My filthy home

I’m sick of cleaning up after a busy mom, two teen brothers and a dog — but I can’t live in filth.

Do what you can without driving yourself crazy, says our elder. Smile, and let some of it go.

Dear EWC

I am a 21-year-old female who lives at home with my mom and two brothers (14 and19). I go to school full time and work as a nanny while also doing an internship. My problem is my family and the way they keep our household. I do all the cleaning and can very rarely get anyone to help out including my mom. We also have a Bernese mountain dog that is constantly shedding, leaving our white kitchen floors filthy with dirt and black hair. Needles to say, I am exhausted. Our father, (who was an incessant clean freak) passed away when I was 10 years old. Ever since then I have pretty much been doing all the cleaning around the house, and doing my best to take care of my brothers. My mother teaches elementary school and is very busy, which is the excuse she uses to not have to do any cleaning.

I can feel myself running out of energy and when the stress builds up I break down and cry. This usually happens about once a week now. It stresses me out to live in such a dirty house and it severely affects my mood and productivity. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried talking to them countless times about being better about cleaning up after themselves but it always just comes down to, “If you want a clean house do the cleaning yourself.” And for a while I just accepted this, but I don’t know if I can anymore. I cannot afford to move out. I plan on transferring in a year but I need a solution in the meantime. I hate feeling sorry for myself because I was raised being told that “life isn’t fair” and I can fully accept that. What I cannot accept is essentially killing myself just so I don’t have to live in filth.

PicklesMarie replies

Life isn’t fair and cleanliness, oftentimes, is next to impossible. It seems, to me, that you need to bolster your tolerances. I don’t mean that flippantly. I do mean there is only so much you can do and you need to understand that cleaning is one of those endless tasks. You may be driving yourself crazy.

I’ll repeat that. You may be driving yourself crazy. Cleaning is an endless task… you do it one day and it needs it again the next. Once and done doesn’t work with house cleaning. It is an endless thankless task.

You dream that once on your own all things will be clean. Nope! There will still be dirt and mess… even if it is just you. Don’t imagine that there won’t.

You are busy with school and have a mother who is busy teaching and two teen brothers. Give up the idea that all will ever be clean!

It would behove you to tend to your own things. Do well at school. Keep a limited (limited) amount of places clean at home. That big long haired dog will continue to shed… so only clean up after him/her about once a week. Any more will drive you crazy, and not make any difference to the rest of the family.

Life isn’t fair, as importantly, life isn’t perfect and life isn’t pristine. I hate to sound like the enemy, but, maybe filth isn’t the worst thing to live with. Maybe your intolerances are making you weak. It may be that you have some perfectionist tendencies that you need to fight against. Life is seldom perfect in any way.

I’d point out that you cannot change any of these ‘sloppy roomies’. I’d urge you to take another tack here. There are three slobs (four if you count the dog) against you. Crying won’t help. Wearing yourself out cleaning up after these slobs won’t help either. Stop! Know that life for all can proceed if you don’t knock yourself out cleaning like your dad apparently did. Let go. Accept things (sort of) as they are.

You will never be able to convince the rest of your family to clean up and, of course, the dog is lovable, but, hopeless. Smile. Let go.

While your quest is noble, it is also impossible. I hope I’ve been a voice of reason. If I was of no help, please don’t hesitate to contact someone else at EWC.

Letter #: 450639
Category: Family

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