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Ask UfYH: Generation Aggravation

Q: I live with my retired mother. We constantly argue about how to keep the house clean. I say we need to list the chores/tasks she wants completed and when. She says I should just “see” what needs to be done. How do I get her to understand that we need a clear schedule? Without one, I feel like I’m cleaning all day. And even then it’s never clean enough.

A:¬†They say the parent/child relationship is supposed to improve once the child is a grown-ass adult, but I think that rule goes completely out the window when you’re living in the same house. What’s working in your favor here, though, is that you are, in fact, a grown-ass adult, and you are fully capable of taking charge of the situation in a way that’s not going to frustrate the hell out of you.

Make the schedule. Make it the way that it makes sense to you. Put it somewhere you both can see it. I can pretty much guarantee that within a relatively short time of you making said schedule and putting it where she has access to it, she’ll start making changes to it, which, in turn, lets you know what her actual expectations are.

If she continues to say you should just “see” what needs to get done, tell her clearly and in a way that doesn’t invite discussion, that you, like most people, do better when you know what’s expected of you. Tell her that the house is almost certain to stay cleaner if you have a schedule to follow, and she’s welcome to follow or not follow it, whichever she chooses.

It’s hard to deal with your parents as people and not parents, but you deserve not to be treated like a child, and frankly, your mother should be thrilled that she has a daughter who wants to keep the house clean to expectations. She really lucked out with you; time for her to realize it.

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By [E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

One reply on “Ask UfYH: Generation Aggravation”

I am much like your mother. I used to think that my husband should just “see” what needed to be done. You know what happened? I regularly got frustrated and upset, Husband got defensive, and his eyesight for some reason did NOT magically improve! Also, oddly enough, he never ONCE received ANY psychic transmissions about taking out the trash! (I’m adding that in because “just see” and “just know” tend to be closely related).

Unfortunately, what solved the problem was MY realization that I was the one causing the problem. Once I understood what I was doing, we were able to solve the problem. BUT, most of the work was done by me because I was the one being the most unreasonable.

So, here are some things that worked for me, and you might try to guide your mom towards-it’ll work better if it’s “her” idea. If something needs to be done, I ask him nicely and give a reasonable deadline if appropriate. For example, “The trash is getting kinda full. Could you please take it out before you leave for work tomorrow?” It doesn’t make him defensive and it gives him a large period of time in which to work it in. For non-time-sensitive or longer term stuff, I stick Post-it Notes on his computer monitor.

It sounds like your mom doesn’t think that there’s a problem, or at least, a problem that she has any part in solving. Maybe you could try asking her to write down her requests so you don’t “forget”? Cause then she’s not writing a schedule, but it might help you figure out the schedule that’s in her head.

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