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Chore Wars: Multi-Generational Household Pain

Chore War from Kathy


I'm in desperate need of your help. I live with my 81 year old mother and my 34 year old daughter both of which stay at home during the day. The problem is I work 8 hours a day and when I get home I'm tired and want to just set down. I'm usually very busy during the weekend and hardly at home. Our house has to the biggest mess there ever was. My daughter even thought I kept a clean house while she was growing up is a slob. She leaves clothes just laying around in her room instead of hanging them up, plus anywhere she happens to put things down is where they stay. Also she uses her grandmother's dining room table as a catch all and has it piled high with stuff. Then there are several place within the house that there are piles also, if the vacuum cleaner is to be run it has to be my doing all the time. As far a dusting, you have to fine the top of a table in order to dust it off and they are all piled high with junk!

Please help!! I would love to just clean it and have nothing piled on anything and see clean, but I just don't know where to start!

Laura's Response: Hi Kathy, I can hear your frustration clearly. We all just want to walk in our home at the end of the day and have it look fairly cleaned and organized. Let's face it our home is our sanctuary the one place we can escape from all the demands of the outside world. The question is how can you get your home to be a peaceful clean place when you walk in the door at the end of a hard day?

Start with DR. Lisa's suggestions. Here's a few more thoughts to help;

Make a list of the top 5 things you want cleaned and cleared. Try to get help from your daughter to complete the 5 tasks. Example:

1. Clean dining room table, no more clutter allowed on top.
2. No clutter allowed in kitchen. (you get the picture, develop your list)

Then become the cleaning police for about the next 30 days to do the re-training should some culprit try to mess it up (AKA your daughter). You can skip the anger like Dr. Lisa says but you still may have to lay down the law!

If you tend to have a passive and non-confrontational personality ---try watching a Tyler Perry movie or play like Madea goes to Jail, or Madea's family Reunion. I think you will get a clear picture of what a woman has to do to get her house in order with her family. Not only will you get a few laughs, but you will see just how you might have to go off for a minute to be taken seriously. Oh, and when you see the play/movie skip the piece of steel she keeps in her purse, we don't have to take cleaning that seriously!

Good Luck!
Laura Dellutri

Dr. Lisa response - The multi generation household is feeling the pains of not really having a head. No one is a child and authority are not assumed. I would start with a meeting, clearly outlining the hierarchy, i.e., grandmother's home and is must be respected, next mother (you Kathy), and then your daughter. It does not have to be an angry meeting, just one to establish some guidelines. Next, you MUST define your expectation of a clean house so that everyone understands. Start with only one room at a time and devote the weekend to de clutter it and give everything a place. If something is not used, wanted, needed, discard it or it becomes clutter for another room. You should be able to get 1 or 2 rooms complete in a weekend. The next weekend, you take on 1 or 2 more rooms and then just clean the rooms that are already complete. Remember that the house did not get in this shape over just a few weeks, but it may only take a few weeks to get it back in shape and in the process, you will likely have less frustration with your family members.

Good Luck,

Dr. Lisa

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