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to want to get out the bleach?

(58 Posts)
gratefulgran54 Sun 03-Nov-13 11:26:59

Was at DS1s last night to babysit 3 eldest GC. First time I've been there in that capacity for a while.
I was horrified at the state of the place, and just wanted to start scrubbing. The toilets had a thick layer of dust/dirt/unmentionables all over, the tiles over the bath were grimy and had hair streaked all over them, the sofa smelled of wee (had to strip off and wash myself and clothes when I got home, even though it was after midnight), the floors were sticky, and the kitchen?....couldn't bring myself to enter, and certainly not make a drink.

I'm not a house-proud person by any means, but I do have standards of cleanliness and particularly hygiene.

How do I even begin to address this with DS and DiL without causing offence?

JessM Sun 03-Nov-13 11:54:56

In the context of a tactful discussion about how they are coping generally with the kids, work, life and all.
My DIL is always delighted if I clean, but I would have got very huffy indeed if my MIL had come in an offered to clean.
has there been a big change? Could be a sign that DIL depressed or something?

Aka Sun 03-Nov-13 12:04:57

Are they both working?

thatbags Sun 03-Nov-13 12:11:09

If they had a good hot water supply, I'd have done some washing-up or cleaned a loo at least.

But said nothing.

tanith Sun 03-Nov-13 12:28:28

A difficult one that's for sure, as much as its also my instinct to get the bleach out I think you really need to say nothing. If the kids seem happy and cared for then they won't care how clean things are . Maybe down the road a bit you could ask if there is anything you can do to help around the house.

Mishap Sun 03-Nov-13 12:46:11

Keep schtumm! - unless you think this is a new departure and hints at the fact that they cannot cope and are wanting help. I know this scenario very well and take the view that they must choose how they live - and children are often much happier in an environment where they can enjoy themselves without someone breathing down their neck about the mess. It's when they import it to your house that it gets a bit sticky - in more ways than one!

My DDs are always happy when I just muck in and do bit of clearing up - especially in the kitchen - but it is important not to impart even the tiniest hint of criticism.

If they had any concerns about it, one of them would probably have said "Excuse the mess, we've been very busy." If they didn't, you are forced to assume that this is how they choose to live.

Do the children em happy?If so, grit the teeth and just enjoy the children.

grannyactivist Sun 03-Nov-13 12:48:29

My house is usually pretty spotless, but a few years ago when I'd been very unwell for a time it was starting to bother me that it was getting a bit grubby. My mother in law offered to pay for a cleaner to come in and help out until I was back on my feet. As it is I recovered well enough to get on with it myself, but I was very grateful for the offer and I absolutely knew there was no intended criticism. If, in a spirit of wanting to give your daughter in law a break, you offered to pay a cleaner for a week/month/one off houseclean would she take offence?

ninathenana Sun 03-Nov-13 13:33:12

Tricky one when it's DS house. I very often wash up and tidy at DD's she's never offended. In fact I have a sneaky suspicion she leaves it for me grin

nightowl Sun 03-Nov-13 13:50:13

Mmm not just me then nina. In fact my DD once complained that I hadn't done the washing up she had left for me hmm. Son-out-law even joined in and said I was letting standards slip. Good job I love them both dearly grin

Maggiemaybe Sun 03-Nov-13 13:53:10

Very tricky indeed. Rightly or wrongly, probably much less so if a DD was involved, not a DiL. I would have taken unasked-for help gladly from my mum, but would have been on the lookout for criticism if it had been my MiL, lovely though she was. My DH and I once spent hours bottoming our DD2's shared and filthy student flat while the girls were out. We found that the reason the vac wasn't working was that it was completely blocked, including the length of the hose - they hadn't realised you had to empty it. confused We fought the urge to tidy, and threw most of the mess and clutter back on top of the clean surfaces once we'd done. As each of them returned, they sniffed the air and said it smelt different - I passed it off as my perfume. And three of them spotted that they weren't sticking to the kitchen floor anymore. Other than that and the useable vac, they didn't notice a thing! grin

MrsM Sun 03-Nov-13 14:06:26

It's easy with a daughter - just do it and tell her she's a slut whilst wondering how she's been brought up! smile

I haven't got a DiL but I wouldn't presume to do anything in her house. There may be a way in with asking if you can help but that depends on your relationship

gracesmum Sun 03-Nov-13 14:07:29

Oh so hard. Many years ago a friend and I cleaned out her kitchen for an older friend who was in hospital after a minor heart attack. A wonderful caring and entriely unselfish woman, she totally neglected herself and her house was chaos. Nobody ever died of anything in it though, but we thought we were offering practical help.
She was mortified when she came out of hospital as she felt we were critical of her housekeeping (!), embarrassed as we had clearly felt it "needed doing" and also because she had let things slip. I hope she forgave us eventually because the next heart attack was not a minor one and she died.
Only you can know how your DD might react to offers of help - such as a cleaner (difficult) the offer to take the children off her hands or to do a more active sort of "house sit" where she and the children go somewhere nice and you (with her agreement) tackle the bathrooms or the kitchen. You can drift into not noticing your own mess - I know, "I make the house look lived in, DH leaves it in a tip". When DD was pregnant I "bottomed out" one of her kitchen cupboards as she couldn't get down on the floor to do it, and even so I think she was embarrassed that I had done so. (I think, wth 2 scamps, she would bite my hand off if I offered again!!)
Bottom line - is it a health hazard? If not, maybe best leave well alone though. Criticism even unspoken is so hard to get over. My Sis-IL did a magnificent hoover for me when she was up helping me look after the boys a couple of months ago and of course I was left wondering - did it look so awful she felt obliged to?

Jendurham Sun 03-Nov-13 14:19:42

Once my daughter-in-law was staying when my husband was in hospital after he'd fallen off a ladder and broken his back. When I got back home from visiting him in hospital, I found her polishing the leaves on a plant that we had. It had a lot of leaves.
It just showed that she needed something to do. I would not have minded at all if she'd gone through the whole house with a duster and vacuum cleaner.

BAnanas Sun 03-Nov-13 14:52:54

Some bleach I have noticed give me a headache. I'm alright with Harpic I have just done all our loos.

nightowl Sun 03-Nov-13 15:03:31

I don't buy bleach. Have bought perhaps ten bottles in my lifetime, and that was when we had very light coloured worktops that stained easily. I didn't realise I was unusual until a friend commented on it. Am I missing something?

rosesarered Sun 03-Nov-13 15:04:51

In my view you can't offer to do anything [especially if it usually looks like this.] It would be a never ending battle for you to take on another household, and could lead to outrage on part of D-I-L. I suppose you could have a quiet word with your son about the state of the house?Otherwise, maybe do nothing except take a 'throw' to sit on the sofa.

gratefulgran54 Sun 03-Nov-13 15:09:40

Thanks peeps, I thought 'keeping schtum' would be the best thing, but it's very hard.
Unfortunately this is neither a new nor, to me, excusable situation. There are often upset tummies there, as well as UTIs (GD). Neither of them work, preferring to label their children with hard to disprove disabilities (ADHD, Autism, Behaviour issues etc), and milking the state for all they are worth.

Admittedly GS1 has a speech and language problem (he attends the school I work at), but, having experience with SEN children, I cannot see any signs of anything other than lack of discipline in the other 2. But DiL has learned all the lingo, and is very good at talking over people until they agree with her!

DS does what housework is tackled, as well as the washing, shopping and care of children when they are ill. DiL is far more interested in how her childrens 'disabilities' affect her life, and how amazing she is at coping with them (NOT). GC are un-disciplined mostly, but when they are told off it is with a screech and no consequence, so they do it again anyway.

But they spend most of their time spending what they get. DS always has the latest console game on the day of release, DiL is constantly attached to her iphone, ipad or kindle.

A prime example of how things are, was last night.

The GC were still in PJs, not having left the house all day and were running riot when I arrived. They were given a dinner of frozen chicken pie and chips (cooked obviously) and a cup of milk (because it was the easiest thing, even though GS1 asked for water).

After their meal I got them dressed, and we went for a long walk/run round their estate to get rid of some of the energy. When we got back (having had great fun exploring) they were appalled that I suggested a bath, but did all get in eventually, and enjoyed it.

At bedtime, I was informed that they have music on to help them sleep. This entailed music files set up on an xbox in their rooms (Yes, the boys both have them, they are 8 and 6) and a PSP in GDs room (she is 4). All this music came with weird psychadelic pictures on large TVs, and they all had bright lamps that apparently had to be on too!
No sleep happened until I put my foot down at 10pm and turned everything off...all asleep in 10 mins!

Frankly I couldn't give a hoot how DS and DiL choose to live, but it hurts me greatly to see my 3 innocent GC being caught up in their lifestyle (and being used to fund it!)
They are my life, and so different when here with me, or when we are out somewhere, and I could cry when I see them living like that!

Galen Sun 03-Nov-13 15:13:27

I would love it if my dd offered to clean up, if only the bedroom does been using when she stays! She never makes the bed and to be fair, that's all thar needs doing. Kate does the rest.

gracesmum Sun 03-Nov-13 15:28:13

gratefulgran - there is clearly a deeper issue here and my heart goes out to you. How about having the DGC overnight at a weekend to give them a more "normal" taste of life? I am sorry if that sounds judgemental but children grow up kowing what surrounds them. It might be fun for them to have a change? I hope there is nevertheless plenty of love in the home - that is what matters isn't it? But I too would be concerned to see the DGC experiencing a life so different from the one their parents grew up in. Hard one for you. flowers

Mishap Sun 03-Nov-13 15:29:20

Oh dear - how very difficult for you. Their entire lifestyle is one of which you do not approve (and we can all understand that). Your involvement has to be such a positive thing for the children that you may have to continue the tongue-biting in order to remain a part of their lives - and that clearly is the most important thing. They can do different and interesting things with yo and gently absorb some of the osrts of standards that you might wish for them.

But in the end they are not your children - much as you love them dearly and want the best for them, if they are not suffering the sort of neglect that might result in them being received into care, there is nothing you can do, except take all steps to keep on the right side of everyone so that you can offer the children other experiences.

I am sorry that you are facing this difficult situation and wish you lots of luck with it - I am sure you are doing the right things, hard though it must be.

Stansgran Sun 03-Nov-13 15:35:16

It is difficult. I'm told I'm obsessive about work surfaces but the only people I know who are different a re the DDs! My DD1 has a cleaner who is brilliant so it doesn't matter that she is very untidy and she has improved enormously(inher own home not mine) and when I used to be collecting dust bunnies from under the beds I know end up putting the children's toys and books in some sort of usable state.

penguinpaperback Sun 03-Nov-13 15:37:26

gratefulgran54 it must be so difficult for you and it sounds as though it would be walking on eggshells if you ever questioned their parenting or housekeeping skills. The times the children have with you now may leave a lasting impression on them long after they've grown up and have children of their own.
I speak from experience, my paternal Grandmother was a wonderful woman. smile

Maggiemaybe Sun 03-Nov-13 16:01:22

These days, Jendurham, I'd be grateful for anyone, anyone, to offer to do that! grin

hummingbird Sun 03-Nov-13 16:13:05

Good advice, Mishap! It's difficult not to measure them by your own standards, isn't it? My daughter is cheerfully messy, and looks forward to my visits as I get everything shipshape again. She's not in the least embarrassed, and I'm aghast at the fact that she doesn't even make a show of trying to maintain it - she doesn't even wait for me to go home before she messes it up again! My daughter-in-law is much the same, but has a cleaner, which has improved things no end in their house. I don't think I'd be able to stand your situation, Grateful, I think I'd have got on and done some housework. Can you visit a bit more often and offer help in a light-hearted way? You don't know, they might be really grateful! Good luck!

Jendurham Sun 03-Nov-13 16:13:51

So would I. Unfortunately I now live near Durham and she has split up with my son and moved down to Cambridgeshire.
I do live in a smaller house now, a bungalow, and the plant's out in the garden getting its leaves washed as there's no room for it in the house. My other son has just invited himself and family to dinner so we can go and see some fireworks after that. I put down the phone and noticed it's started raining again.
I think it's a soup night tonight.