new hope!

Hi Everyone,

I've been away and wanted to post about my positive experience.

I spent two weeks with my family at my father in law's house.  My husband and his siblings wanted to have a weekend celebration for their father, who turned 80.  My husband and I decided to make a vacation out of it and get there a couple weeks before the event so that the kids would have time with their grandfather.

a bit of background:  My mother in law died in 1997, at the age of 48.  She had an aggressive cancer and it was only 8 months from diagnosis to death.  When she died, the two older boys were grown & out of the house, but the younger kids were 17 and 15.  The 15 year old (the only girl out of 4)  took over the role of her mom, cooking and cleaning for the whole family while also going to school, babysitting and doing a paper route.  When she went to college, her brother stayed behind, attending college sporadically, getting into all kinds of mischief, including, I believe, setting up a robbery of his own house.  (What kind of thief breaks into a house, leaving nothing disturbed but knows EXACTLY where to find the 2 most expensive pieces of heirloom jewelry?  And how did this thief know about a computer in the basement and why did he decide to open the computer and remove a particular chip instead of simply stealing the computer?)  For the next decade or so, he and my father-in-law lived like bachelors.  The house, as you can imagine fell to ruin, much of it, untouched since my mother in law's death.  Every time we visited for holidays etc. I would be desperate to clean, but would not even know where to start and everything I saw just lead to another thing that needed to be fixed...  on top of that, my little brother in law, in his 20s, was supposed to be helping around the house with cleaning and chores as part of 'rent' and anytime i attempted to do anything, by father in law would get angry at HIM because it was supposed to be his job to clean.  The kitchen would be waste high in garbage and recycling, but no one would tell me how to get into the garage (separate from the house, under a code) to take it out because it was my brother in law's job to take it out.  He, of course, was never home, and the chaos, garbage piled up.  I would get SO depressed there.  My husband didn't seem to notice or care and neither did the other men in the family. They sat in front of the TV watching various series on DVD. His sister would try to clean up, but she has a high stress/demanding job in another city and cannot be there for more than 2 days and (understandably) would rather spend time with her dad than clean a hopeless mess).  usually after 2 days, my soul would be crushed and I would give up too.

The brother moved out a few years ago, but it was still difficult for me to clean up while there because i had an infant, then a toddler, then and infant AND a toddler.  I would manage to get the kitchen and the bathrooms clean, but couldn't do much else.  To top it off:  there is a cat.  My husband AND my daughter have severe cat allergy.  I have to dose my daughter with Benedryl, Zyrtec, Flovent (inhaler) AND Albuterol for wheezing.  The albuterol makes her hyper and angry and violent.  She punches and kicks and gets really angry and I can see in her eyes when she gets like that that she is even afraid of herself.  She has given me a fat lip and bloody nose while we've been there while on albuterol.  

So this time I made a decision before we went there.  I was going to clean that house.  And... try to fix anything that I could fix.  I decided I could not put up with living in filth and I refuse to subject my children to it.  At first, my husband would take the girls somewhere with my father in law and I would make up some excuse to stay home so I could clean.  Anytime he saw me cleaning he would tell me to stop ("no! that is not necessary!  Sit down and have a drink!") and i would back off for a while.  But finally I thought, f*ck it.  I am cleaning this house and i refuse to stop.  It is work that HAS to be done and someone's got to do it and that someone is me.  before DH's siblings arrived I was cleaning out the bedrooms where they were going to sleep.  There was enough cat hair stuck to the drapes to make 3 large sweaters plus spider eggs, dust bunnies - ok dust rhinoceroses - and everything was covered in 2 cm of dust.  Oh yeah:  and clutter.  papers, books, change... wrappers, clothes... you name it.  All over the floor.  My father in law kept telling me to stop cleaning, that all they needed to do was put sheets on the beds.  well... all the bedding was covered in cat hair, there was ONE pillow (for a family of four) the rooms were filthy and one room had been a sewing room, so there were dozens of pins and needles on the floor and other sharp dangerous sewing materials within reach of the 2 year old & 10 month old that would be in there.  Over the next week I scrubbed the kitchen floor, I washed the living room drapes (who knew?  they are white!)  Scrubbed the food-splatter marks off the dining room wall.  cut dead branches off the plants.  DUSTED the plants.  washed all the couch cushion covers, vacuumed and dusted everywhere cleaned the laundry room in the basement because there was not one surface that was not filthy and I could not take our clothes out of the washer and put them into the dryer without touching something that would leave grime on myself or the clothes.  I scrubbed the rust and paint and grime off the sink down there til it shone like a silver Christmas ball.  Took the crumpled clothes and towels that had been on the floor YEARS and put them through the wash and folded them.  I vacuumed the steps to the basement that had been caked in cobwebs, cat litter, dust etc....  many other little projects...  Everyone was astounded.  Everyone was happy.  My brothers in law and my husband trimmed some trees in the yard and before they put the ladder away I went around the house with it and washed all the windows.  went inside and while my husband and sister in law prepared a huge birthday dinner I cleaned the INSIDE of the windows.  The result was amazing, and I opened ALL of the curtains and let the light in.  It is a totally different house now.  When I came inside from cleaning the windows, my father in law, who had previously been so upset/embarrassed about my cleaning frenzy stood up and said simply, "Thank you very much." and I almost cried.

I didn't get everything done that I wanted to, but have a list for our next trip.  This time, I will insist that DH help!!!

For me, this was a huge lesson in doing things a chunk at a time, something every day and also just learning to not let myself feel hopeless.  I have felt all year like my life was not in my own control and this showed me that I can really make a difference - not just for me - if I use my strength and make changes.

Hyperfocus?  Maybe a little.  But I DID recognize the things I could manage and things that would just be ridiculous, and only took on the projects that I knew I could handle.  How many times in my life have i started something only to realize halfway through that i couldn't finish it because it was simply too much??

Anyway - feeling happy and ready to take on my second year in this city.  Determined to be happy.  determined to stop feeling overwhelmed & worthless.

Hope y'all are well!


You are fantastic!!! Can you

You are fantastic!!!

Can you come over to my house now? Kidding! ;) 

While it's annoying and unfair that the whole job came to you, congratulations on seizing power and doing what had to be done! You did what was right for YOU, and as a result, helped everybody. I am so impressed. That is an EPIC job!!! Jaw on floor. 

I can relate on a much, much more minor scale, having recently gone into a garage cleaning frenzy for pretty much the same reasons [ crazy mess not allergies though ] It felt so good to take charge and take back the space. 

You are the exact opposite of useless! How about, invaluable. 

Seriously, rock on!

rara avis


Yes, in the end, it really was doing something for myself, as I was so much less depressed being there....  But the house was getting smaller and smaller, as areas of it got too cluttered to go into. 

I am now determined the next time I visit my parents to help my father clean out 2 rooms that he's destroyed over the last decade.  My mother is a decent house-keeper, and has limited his mess to those two rooms, but she can't keep up the whole house plus organize his mess.  I'm going to try to help him.  It's tricky, because when it's not your stuff, you don't know what's trash and what is a treasured memory...  Unfortunately my dad likes to keep EVERYTHING.  I'm thinking that even if he refuses to throw stuff away I can at least make sure that the trash is CLEAN trash and put away neatly!  As it stands, the door to each room only opens enough to get in and sit at a desk with a computer on it.  the rest of the room is floor to ceiling crap.  It could be in an episode of 'Hoarders" 

My dad is ADD, my mom may also be, but she is VERY good at coping strategies.  However, she is too old to deal with the mess and my dad is exahusting in his hyperfocus for new hobbies each month after he retired.  Also - once it gets to the point where he can't open the doors i'm afraid he'll destroy another part of the house!

This convinces me...

that my husband could keep the house clean if he chose to. It is very hard for me since I have physical limitations which my husband chooses not to make any allowance for. It is the biggest bone of contention in our marriage, outside of his not working.

My ADHD daughter goes into "cleaning frenzy" mode on occasion. I learned to just let her alone. Her apartment is spotless, my house is a wreck.

Well, Sueann....

At the risk of making another sweeping generalization, there are only a handful of men I know who would even notice thick cat hair on drapes and stains from a ceiling leak on curtains.  My non-ADD husband noticed his father's house was a mess because of his allergies, but didn't think it would be worth the effort to clean.  Cleaning seems to be a mystery to him.  After I'd washed the living room drapes and they'd gone from dark grey with brown stains all over them to pure white (and were hanging in windows that are now free from thick cobwebs and spider eggs) I triumphantly pointed at them and said, "TA-DAAAA!!!"  My husband stared for nearly a full minute, perplexed... then finally said, "What?"

  I discovered though, that he CAN do SOME cleaning because when I came back from a business trip he had tidied up the kids' toys and cleaned the kitchen (ok so pots were soaking in the sink and the counters had not been wiped, but the dishwasher was loaded).

If I were nearby Sueann I'd come by& hyperfocus cleaning-frenzy for ya! 

I honestly believe that anyone can house clean with a good

I honestly believe that anyone can house clean with a good enough reason for doing so, and the reasons for doing the cleaning in the example mentioned above were certainly extremely compelling. 

The problem is that one person's compelling isn't always in agreement with another person's.  For example, when we are entertaining, my husband can become a cleaning machine beforehand and even while company is here.   Yet when it is just us, he walks around things that he would pick up for company. 

This hurts my feelings a bit as he seems to believe the coffee table should of course be cleared off for company, but why not for us?  Why do other people get the benefit of things being cleaned up and sparkly? 

Sometimes you have to figure out a way to tap into motivation.  We've done competitions with my mom and various other things to keep him emotionally invested in keeping the house clean.  Unfortunately, for my husband just the value of having a clean house doesnt give him the peace and serenity that it gives me....he needs a different reason to clean, which sometimes is that it gives me peace and serenity so he does it though he doesn't really care.  I guess that is kinda sweet by itself :)

keeping clean

my husband WANTS a clean house - he loved it when we were selling our house and had to have it 'show-ready'  (before we had 2 kids) and said, "we need to keep the house like this from now on..." and by 'WE" he meant that I should do it by myself.  Yes, it was great to live in a clean space, but not great enough for him to do any of it.  I asked him once why he never helps... not even bringing his plate to the kitchen... he just said, "I don't know."  In a way, I find it MORE insulting because he is NOT ADD.  It really IS a choice he consciously makes.

I assumed it's because he makes more money than i do but... that's BS.  I work all day taking care of small children, the house and any part time work I can.  If i insist on something he'll do it, but then I feel like I'm nagging, so I just do it all myself.


We have baskets of what started out as clean laundry in front of the washer and dryer. I can't get to the appliances at all. Then the "clean" laundry gets stepped on, etc. My husband insists (quite adamantly) that IT IS NOT POSSIBLE to put our clothes away. I've fallen several times in there and now refuse to go in there unless it's an emergency. 

My first husband (non-ADD) deliberately did no work in the house just like your hubby. He said it was because I didn't make as much money as him and so to make our contributions equal, I had to do all the housework. The first knee surgery I had was intended to make me able to get to the basement to do the laundry. I was altered instead of moving the laundry room (but it didn't work).

Well I agree that most

Well I agree that most everyone enjoys a clean house, but I meant that for each person the motivation for doing the work to keep it clean is different.  For me just living in a clean and organized house is usually sufficient to get me to do cleaning even when I don't want to.  For my husband this isn't the case, so we've had to come up with other motivations for him.

As far as the men who think it is still 1952 and think all the work should be on the women, it is probably harder to deal with such ingrained and ignorant views than the simple lack of desire to do the work.  I do believe that the people who stay at home should do more of the housework than the person who is out working all day simply because there needs to be as equal an amount of effort as possible.  Now that I work much less than hubby, I do much more of the housework BUT that still doesn't mean ALL of it. 

People need to also acknowledge that taking care of small children is a lot of work.  When I was babysitting my nieces when they were smaller, I was doing good to get a few minutes to shower when I was here with them alone.  So assuming a roughly equal amount of work during the day, both should be helping in the evenings.  However, while doing the cooking, while kids are napping, while kids are content sitting in a swing or whatever, obviously that is an opportunity to get some things done at home.  Some ppl are better than others at keeping kids occupied and getting cleaning/straightening up done.  Loving men will understand that there are days where nothing extra is going to get done except for having clean, fed kids, and possibly even food for the rest of the family.

Part of being in a family SHOULD be doing what is necessary to get and keep everything done.  Women who don't teach their sons to help at home aren't doing anyone any favors.  The first few years of a marriage are often spent reprogramming the view that it should all be on the wife........the first few years of my marriage were spent that way and my husband agreed going in that it was job of both of us to keep it done.  Way easier to say it than to do it!

I'm with you Aspen

about the evenings.  What drives me nuts is that we both work all day, but when my husband gets home he is entitled to watch videos, play games on his phone etc. while I'm cooking/cleaning up dinner/getting the kids ready for bed.

He says he needs to play games/watch videos to reset his brain so that he can then do his work at night.  But... it still makes me nuts when i see it.

He helps if I ask, but I always feel like i'm using up some sort of babysitting coupon with him, and often don't ask for help if I know i'll need help some other time and worry if i've used up too many 'coupons.'

Interesting that he feels it is brain reset

cause it looks like avoidance to me.  How long does he usually play games before stopping on his own to accomplish something else?  Cause I have no issues with decompression time for either person, especially if it is something like 1/2 an hour and then he comes back to the family ready to participate fully.

Though it is rarer now, when my husband retreats into video games or whatever, he doesn't seem to pop right back out and be "ok I am ready to help now" -- some of this may be ADD, some of it may be being a guy, I just don't know but I feel like I am knocking at the door and asking what is up and when will be "holding time" which is our code. Now he doesn't really mind my gently asking and I never get snapped at about it or anything, but it does bother me a bit to have to ask him after 30 min or a hour or whatever, when we might get to our evening routine.  If I have to ask him what he's doing, he is usually out within about 15 min, but I'd feel even better if he came out on his own more often and asked what he could do to help, settled in for some holding time, etc  To be fair he's been pretty good about this the last several months.

I can't imagine how much harder it would be to deal with if we had kids that I felt he should be helping with.  As it is mostly I just occupy myself with one of my interests until he is ready, and I feel our *solution* is working but 'd prefer if it didn't take a reminder from me to detach him from his reset/avoidance/decompression method of choice, which is usually games.

That's not fair at all.  We

That's not fair at all.  We all need to decompress, but have to limit it before the kids go to bed.  That's just the way it is!

Finally, they're his kids as well.  You have every right to ask for help.  Why does he think he's entitled to relax while you shoulder this burden?  What if you decided the same thing?

O.K.  I just re-read some of the thread.  He's not ADHD.  Well, it's funny because I was thinking I know a number of women whose husbands are not ADHD and they complain (rightly) about the same thing.  Actually, a good number of women. 

nope, he's not ADD. I'm the one with the problem

So, I guess it could be worse:  he could be playing games for hours.

The trouble i'm having (for the last year, since I moved here) is that I am expected to do all the cooking/cleaning and childcare/doctor visits etc./phone calls to insurance co, bank, etc plus I am somehow supposed to earn $36-$40K (after taxes) minimum to make up for what his salary doesn't cover.

needless to say, this has not happened.  LOOKING for a job is a job in itself, and jobs take time.  I have about 90 minutes in the afternoon when my daughter naps when I can get something done, or after 11pm when i've finished cleaning up after everyone (like now) but my brain is fried, my medication wore off long ago and if i DID send out a resume right now it would be riddled with mistakes.

My mom was your traditional housewife, and that's what I grew up understanding.  She did pretty much the same thing I do all day, but there was no pressure or expectation for her to earn money, and she did not hate herself because she was not working.  She was happy with her life, and took pride in what she did for us.  Somehow, my role is traditional housewife with the pressure to earn a full time salary at the same time.  It's not happening.  it's not even close to happening and the paltry amounts of money I make with part time stuff are a drop in the bucket.  We have scaled back as much as we can (we never had any luxuries to begin with, so there's really nothing more we can do).  I'm exhausted and scared all the time.

I had a talk with my husband tonight and he suggests getting up early (like 5am) to apply for stuff online and then use naptimes for research, practice, preparation for stuff. I told him i have no problem busting my butt to get work, but I need  more than one hour in the morning and 90 minutes in the afternoon and that he may have to deal with the apartment being a bit messier and he may have to put his own dishes into the dishwasher occasionally and learn how to turn on the washing machine and iron his own shirts, and put some frozen fish sticks in the oven some nights.

Any time-management geniuses out there want to help me with this one?

Maybe he could look for a

Maybe he could look for a part time job while he is working full time too. Lots of people have two and three jobs for a short amount of time. If you are doing a full time job (house and kids) and he is asking you to get another full time job to make (+\- 40,000), then i think he should also look for something since he isnt carrying his weight around the house or with the kids.. If you really are ready and wanting to look for work, the best scenario is to go to a temporary placement agency. They also provide permanent employment. You interview with them, give them your resume, and they LOOK for you. They make money when they place you somewhere, so there is a major motivation to get you a job. you can sign up with multiple companies too.


I am working with an employment officer and temp stuff too.  Trouble is, I can't take last-minute stuff (the majority of what temp agencies deal with) because of childcare.  I'm going to try more agencies...

he doesn't have time to get another job.  His job is not over when he comes home:  he has to write books, research, edit etc. etc.  So he always SHOULD/COULD be working on something.  So there is never a time or day when I can ask for help or have any expectation of help because the response is always:  "I have to do some work."  (even if he's watching a football game online with headphones on or playing a game or watching some stupid video his brother sent him at the moment I ask for help).

some ideas to consider

I think you're asking for help on finding time to look for a job? If not, then disregard.  I have no advice on how to solve the issues of whether/not to work.  I also don't know the age of your child, I'm guessing very young.  First, you can get something done in the 90 minutes naptime -- let that be your focus time on job-hunting, not housework. Your first session should be getting the resume spiffed up.  Email it to a friend or several for feedback.  Or, whatever your career field, send it someone in the place you used to live for guidance... that way they won't feel like you're looking for a job with them, just mentoring.   Try stopping your job-hunt work sessions 5 minutes before you have to to plan the first activity in the next 90 minute session.  That way, you won't spend much of your precious 90 minutes getting back in the "groove" .  Include your daughter in the housework time -- useless dusting or pretend spraying with cleaner is a great way to keep them occupied while you get the things done that must be done.  My personal preference would be to work on job hunting in the evening after kids are in bed, but I am not taking meds that wear off that time of day.  If you're not done with housework until 11 pm you must have a way cleaner house than I do! LOL.  Maybe try  keeping a diary for a day or two to see how much time the housework stuff actually takes, and try to compress it into a smaller block, so it feels like you have more "free time".   Do you have a friend or two with whom you could trade babysitting so that once a week you could do in-person job hunting or be available for interviews or use library resources?   All that being said, however, your paragraph about your mom makes me think you really would prefer to not be working at this time.  Until you can resolve that, finding a job will be very, very hard. Is not having enough time, or getting help from your husband, for sure the real issue?  Best wishes.

Thanks, Gardener!

Yes, I am trying to figure out how to find a job.  Would I like to be a stay at home mom for real?  Yes.  But I know it's a fantasy.

I was just thinking today  "... huh... i wonder how much time I actually spend cleaning???"  So yes:  i'll time it. 

My daughters are 4.5 and 2. the older one is at school from 8-3, but the two year old is VERY clingy and is hard to distract.  She is literally hanging on my leg all day.  If she doesn't get the attention she wants she emits ear-splitting screetches.  I've tried all the tricks:  giving her a duster, having her 'clean' or giving her some other thing to distract her but it always seems to lead to something frustrating her and then the screeching starts again.  I've tried videos, but she's more interested in smashing the computer buttons than paying attention to the video. I might get 10-15 minutes  I might get 2.  It's stressful to not even know how many minutes I might have to concentrate on something.

I'll drop the cleaning during nap and see how much I can get done.


Yeah, they're his kids as well

...I didn't want kids because I knew there was something 'wrong' with me all my life and the responsibility terrified me.  I worried they would come to harm because of something I screwed up or did or forgot to do.  My husband convinced me to have kids because he said his life 'would not be complete' without them. 

He just asked me if he could go out for drinks thursday night.  Every time he goes out with this particular friend, he comes home at 3 or 4am.  I told him it's fine.  It really won't make a difference, since he doesn't help in the evenings anyway.