Do some households actually stay generally clean?

I have discovered over the course of nearly 20 years of marriage that there is something very petty that genuinely infuriates me: Cleaning up after someone else.

This is, as I said, very petty, and I recognize it is not fair or right for me to feel this way, so that’s out of the way. But anyway, the feeling is there.

(And I’m no hypocrite on this: People do not ever have to clean up after me. I clean my shit. I don’t make the mess in the first place, unless it’s in one of my out of the way, not-visible-to-the-public controlled areas that I will clean up. Like the ever-present pile of papers in my office or a stack of half-read books in my bedroom.)

I’m not talking about like sweeping and cleaning surfaces etc. That’s just the natural outcome of people (and animals) being people (and animals) and I don’t mind cleaning that. I’m talking about people leaving their shit out, being messy, etc. I don’t care if they do that in their own space, but in shared spaces? Where I have to either clean it up for them, take actions to request or require (depending on who it is) that they clean it up, or just live with the frustrating sight of it? FRYLOCK ANGRY.

I’d’a never figured myself to be this type fifteen or twenty years ago but turns out I am.

So I have a question. Is my dream of a household where each individual actually takes pains not to make the mess in the first place a pure pipe dream? Is that total fantasy-land? Or are there households (and yes I’m talking children here as well as the two grups in the group) where people actually do keep things generally neat all day?

The cycle of the house getting trashed, and then me having to kind of drill-sergeant the kids into cleaning up some of it while I angrily deal with the horrible things the family has done to my kitchen all day… is this a practically necessary cycle that everyone lives with? Or are there actually ways to get people to… not be messy? To not think of common spaces as a giant trash heap that fairies will clean up later? Etc?

Even better but less probable: Is there a way to help people develop such habits that won’t make me look like a mean-spirited asshole?

Yup. It’s basically how everyone lives. A single person can keep a space clean through the day, but for a group of people it can’t be done unless someone is taking responsibility.

The only thing that helps is getting rid of as much stuff as possible.

It’s a pipe dream unless everyone’s on the same page about what “clean” means.

My mother is clean freakish. I don’t think think she’s full-fledged “clean freak”, but she’s borderline. But she managed to raise 4 kids and keep a clean house without being a mean bitch about it. Her crazy-ass sister is one, so I know we dodged a major bullet.

I’d say there were two things that made it work:

  1. She had realistic expectations about how clean the house had to be at any given time. She aimed for “tidy” during the weekdays, and “spic and span” on the weekends. She didn’t flip out if we had homework projects left out on the dining room table because she understood they would be gone in a couple of days. She never sweated us about making beds before school, probably because she wanted to save her breath for more important tasks.

  2. She delegated practically all of the household chores to the kids. Every Saturday morning we always had a long list of chores waiting for us. Often we would come home from school and find a slightly shorter list. She ran such a well-oiled machine that the only cleaning she ever had to do was her own bedroom and her bathroom, and mopping the kitchen floor.

Because we were the ones who had to do the cleaning, we kids knew not to get too carried away in with messiness.

As an adult, I am much more laid-back about “mess”. I admit that I always feel better when the house is cleaned up, but it takes awhile before I notice junk.

I grew up in a house with a mother who kept things tidy, and made me take my “junk” up to my room.

It made me feel jumpy and unwelcome in my own house. Also like my things weren’t valued. After all, they were “junk”.

I don’t treat my own family that way.

Homes where people take off their shoes upon entering seem to maintain cleanliness much longer.

It is a great concept.

Or getting rid of those other people.

Homes where people take off their shoes upon entering HAVE TO be cleaner, because people are walking around in their socks. So people who insist on that little ritual have to make sure they keep them cleaner to start out with.

I think people everywhere tend to make messes. Their own stuff doesn’t bother them, because it’s theirs. Leaving it wherever they left it makes sense to them at the time.

The only times my house(s) have ever been completely tidy and organized have been when we’re selling them. It took daily effort that came out of my sleep schedule, but the house needed to be ready to show to a seller without notice, so I made it a priority. Otherwise, the house gets tidied and cleaned weekly, except for the kitchen, which is cleaned every night.

I knew going into my marriage that my husband and I had different standards for tidiness and household cleaning. I decided early on that I’d rather have a happy house than fight all the time about cleaning it.

My suggestion is to pick your battles. Is it worth stressing everybody out to make it a daily priority? I also suggest household cleaning time, where everybody chips in. Trains the kiddos. Many hands, light work. Saturday morning, just get it over with.

With one exception, all of my family’s households. We have different standards: some of us can put up with the sight of an empty yoghurt container so long as it’s their own, others have to put it away as soon as it’s been de-yoghurted, but the general rule of “you messed it you clean it” holds.

The exception was the house of one of my uncles where, with a husband who was a spoiled brat and four boys, my aunt had given up on having anything other than the kitchen in a normal state of order and cleanliness. The one time we visited was also the only time I’ve seen a bathroom with several empty toilet-paper rolls standing around. One, ok, someone changed the TP and forgot to take the old tube away with them, but multiples? :confused:

For developing the habit: it’s like with dogs and cats. If you find some poop in a corner, clean it, and then yell at the culprit, the culprit has no idea what your problem is. Same when the animals in question walk on two legs. You explain the rules of “any trash you produce must go to the appropriate trashcan as soon as it has been produced or, at the latest, the first time you leave the room where you made it” (that’s a really big source of dirt, partly because it is and partly because of the “broken windows effect”), and then any time you see someone who doesn’t follow it you point it out. Don’t yell, just say “oop! Joey, your empthy yoghurt. Where does it go?”

Eventually you get to the phase where you can, upon finding an empty yoghurt that wasn’t there last time you entered the room, say “excuse me! Who left a yoghurt corpse in the living room?”

Personal spaces can be kept to whatever level of order their owner deems appropriate so long as there is no danger to feet, necks or hygiene. Common areas need to be in order.

There is a record by Estopa called La calle es tuya, The street is yours. They explain that they got the name when they saw a kid spraypainting a Stop sign and an old man berating him. The boy said “what, the street is yours?” and the old man answered “of course! Mine, and yours, and his, and his… it belongs to everybody, and that is why all of us have the duty to keep it in good order! Do you paint your house like that?” Apparently, the chagrined teenager did not.

Not everyone values clean & tidy as much as others do.

Personally, I’m OK with a level of untidiness, if it streamlines the day. I work from home, and if I’m having a busy day at work, it’s entirely possible the dishes from my lunch will sit on the counter until the end of the day when me/Mr. Athena will do a general clean-up. Mail might sit on the table for a couple days. Our kitchen table tends to collect things - catalogs or magazines we’re not sure if the other person is done with, that bag of misc. stuff that has to be taken back to the store, whatever.

As long as it stays around a level of “it’ll take 30 minutes to make it totally tidy”, I don’t worry about it. I wouldn’t, however, be able to deal with “I’m embarrassed to invite people over to my house because it’s going to take several hours to get tidy and I don’t want to spend the time to do it.”

As far as cleanliness - I’m more of a stickler about that. House gets professionally cleaned once a week, and if I’ve done any degree of cooking, I’ll sweep the kitchen floor and clean the kitchen sink in between the weekly cleanings. Messes, like food dropped on the floor, mud tracked in, doggy issues, get cleaned up right away.

On his own, Mr. Athena tends to be the opposite of me. When we were dating, his apartment was always model-home tidy, but there were times where I was afraid to touch the walls of the shower in his bathroom, it’d been that long since the shower had been washed. Living together, we’ve come to a balance; he’s OK with things being a bit more untidy, and we pay someone to keep things clean. Works for us.

This. God forbid I needed more room than my small bedroom for something. And god forbid I get messy while doing a project for school.

My own house is clean, but somewhat untidy. I’m not going to sweat the papers on the table. They’re in a pile, what else do you want? :slight_smile:

Our house is always neat and tidy, sometimes it can get a bit dusty but one of us will grab the swiffer and take care of it. Then again, two middle aged women with no pets or kids don’t make much mess to begin with.

Same with our car, our friend who owned a car dealership back home always wanted, and gave us top dollar, for our trade ins since the cars were pristine.

I think I might be an example of someone who has been rehabilitated to being neat. My girlfriend keeps a spotless house. Everyday, vacuum, dust and clean off all surfaces, mop floors etc.
I was always the type to clean once a week and let things stack up inbetween. I did do dishes daily however. If I leave something out I immediately hear about it, now I just automaticaly put things where they belong. I actually like it because I never really have to take time out to clean if I stay up on it.

This! This is one of the things I really miss about living with roommates.

Every Thursday evening (so the house would be clean on Friday evening) we would turn off the TV and computers, turn up the lights, and turn on some loud dance music and have a ‘cleaning party’. Then it was hard NOT to clean. People may slack off by themselves, but no one wants to be the only one around who is conspicuously not helping everyone else.

I wish I were neater. I tend to just let stuff pile up, and unfortunately my husband is the same. I’ve always been this way, much to my father’s dismay when I was growing up.

It’s easy to live a clutter- and mess-free life. Just insist on marrying somebody who has the same standards you do.

As with so much else with kids, the key is to be consistent and age-appropriate from the git-go. Waiting until they’re 12 to first mention the idea of them not dropping food on the floor then just walking away will not produce the desired results.
If you’ve flunked that first step and then sealed the deal with kids my only suggestion is “better luck next time”.

Here’s another idea. One of our members here has said that he lives in a house next door to his spouse’s house because they were such an incompatible couple neatness-wise. Felix Unger and Oscar Madison made a funny TV show together; actually living that way would be a bitch. For either of them.

My intended always had tons of books and papers around, and I didn’t dare put them away because he was actually using them for research. So we solved that by having a door on the office… :slight_smile:

You are asking too much, and you are doing it wrong.

You have developed habits of how to keep your own space clean, how you do it is sort of indicative of damage in your early life. That you were not allowed to express yourself in your own home, you were seen as in the way. And had to keep your nose clean so to speak. Living in oppression. Now that’s just a early feeling, and just a possibility (as it could be a rebound for living in a mess as well but whatever). Being at home should have a sense of comfort and also acceptance for who one is, not a walking on eggshells afraid to offend feeling (or the opposite not having any clean space as a child, again both equally valid).

But whatever the reason, you have developed abnormal habits that swing way too far to one side, out of balance and that generally do not work, as you try to enforce them the way you do it you just make it worse and build resentment. You also by feeling the need to clean up, to make your self room to work, have enabled the pattern.

You need acceptance for who you are, a suggestion, you will need agreement and understanding from the adults but can do this with the children with just a talk, I would suggest starting by claiming a small but reasonable work space that you need for your sanity that while it can be used it may not be left cluttered. This will give you the space you need, and also over the children, the ability to order them to stop them at any time and order them to clean up the mess out of that work space you need.

Frylock has said the part I put in italics? Several posters have, but I’ve missed **Frylock **saying it.