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Cleaning someone else's house.

My brothers wife just had her third child, as a gift to the family my mum and I cleaned their house. When I say cleaned I mean really cleaned as it was a tip. My sister in law feels her place is to look after the kids not clean all day, my brother does a bit but not heaps. My SIL was really upset about us cleaning and feels her privacy was invaded, I feel terrible mum and I were just trying to help as she must be exhausted. My question is would this upset and do I apologise?

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Answers (17)

If it was my sisters cleaning, I would be grateful.
If it was my in laws, I would feel judged.
I think that's just how it is...
Lovely thought, but she was probably feeling a bit embarrassed and judged.

To avoid conflict. Apologise for not realising how that would invade her privacy, explain your reasons for helping out and acknowledge her thoughts and feelings. I would quickly discuss it with her before it festers too long and she gets more upset.

 Absolutely love this reply. I'd say she does know it's quite the mess and is deeply embarrassed.. Ensure you spend time reasurring her now and in the future.
helpful (0) 
 I sent a card and wrote I'm really sorry I upset you, I was trying to give you a nice surprise for when you came home not a bad one.
helpful (1) 

I would HATE my mother in law and sister in law to do that! It would feel like a massive insult if they did. But I wouldn't mind if my mum and sister did it. Not sure why

I would HATE it if someone did that to me!! But I do understand you're coming from a kind place (not a judgmental one) so just apologise and she should forgive you.

Most people are going to tell you she should have been grateful and thanked you, and that they wish someone would do that for them however you have to understand that some people are very private and yes she probably feels you've now invaded hers. I personally am one of those people and even the thought of someone coming into my house and going through my things stresses me out! If it was an absolute tip she probably also felt pretty embarrassed about it and what you guys must have thought of it.
It was a lovely gesture but perhaps not the right one for her. I don't think you need to apologise though, you were only trying to help!

 I am one of these people also. I would apologise and just let her know that you didn't mean to upset her you just thought she might have liked the help. It is done and you can't change it but maybe ask / suss it out a bit better in the future.
helpful (2) 
 why be a pig and do you enjoy living like a pig ?
helpful (0) 
 Never said I lived like a pig, my house is usually always clean and tidy. I can however put myself in others shoes and imagine how they COULD be feeling about a situation.
helpful (3) 

Coming from a lovely place of kindness but I also would have had a fit if someone did that to me. Your intentions were great but you did judge her for her house being a tip!! Exactly what she would have expected and the reason she wouldn't have wanted you to do it.

 It's just laziness. I am a single mom and have never had any help from anyone. I have three kids and I cook clean and garden myself. My house is always clean and tidy because I have a routine and make an effort.
Really, I don't understand why you feel bad. You did a massive favour. Hell if I had nieces and nephews living in filth I would not just turn the other cheek. I would have told both parents ages ago and reported it to DOCS.

helpful (0) 
 You're the reason why genuine kids in need have to fu****g wait for help if you actually would report to docs
helpful (7) 
 Refusing or failing to keep a clean house for children is a form of neglect you uneducated baboon!
Given that the mother has no interest in cleaning is an indication that she is not coping and chances are that she has Postnatal Depression which she has no disclosed because she probably is well aware of the fact that she is failing to care properly for her kids which is NEGLECT!
You have no idea how many children are left to live in squalor who also suffer emotional and physical abuse as parents refuse to admit that they need help or refuse to accept it!
It is usually the one that doesn't get reported by people like you that really need help! If they are prepared to cover up the mother and father neglects to clean the house then they are likely to not disclose other relevant signs of abuse.
Just cleaning the pigsty is not a long term solution. These parents need to learn about hygiene and health!

helpful (1) 
 There is a big difference between messy and squalor. Having a messy house is not a form of neglect, providing the people who live in it are not at risk of injury or illness due to their living conditions. And sometimes people with postnatal depression do not even realise they have it. Or if they do, they are unable to do anything about it. Depression in all its forms can be such a debilitating disease. Maybe you are the one who needs to be educated before making such sweeping, judgemental statements.
helpful (3) 
 Do you know what happens when docs get involved? They put support in place and get a diagnosis for depression.
helpful (0) 
 ^^ I'm sure in a perfect world with a perfect system that isn't busting at the seams, that would happen. In the real world, I imagine a case like that would be low on list of priorities and that simply wouldn't happen. If you want support for this person, there are more effective ways of going about it. Firstly, talk to the person! Offer them your support, encourage them to seek help. Docs should not be your first port of call.
helpful (3) 
 Bu do you work? Your a single mother, where do you get your income? Centrelink i presume? Stop being so judgemental top poster, and Docs has certainly more important issues to deal with someone who is having a little trouble keeping a tidy house, not as high a priority as keeping the children alive. F**k.
helpful (2) 

Look within yourself ..do you judge her ..yep ..so she will take it like that

You really should have spoken with her first, just explain you meant it as a nice surprise and are sorry that you didn't check it was okay before going ahead with it.

Hi thanks so much for the replies. I sent a card and apologised to her. The problem is she sees it as my brothers responsibility which I agree at the moment it is, it had got to the point where he just didn't know where to start so it kept getting worse. So I was cleaning for him, I wish it didn't upset her though. Mum is going to offer her help if SIL wants it, but is going to contact docs if it gets like that again, I just don't know what to do.

 Rather than contacting docs, maybe she should have a good chat to her son. Docs would only put more strain onto a situation that doesn't seem like everything's ok
helpful (4) 
 Or maybe offer a weekly cleaning service? As a gift for a month? Whenever friends or family have a baby, we hire a local chef who does healthy meals delivered to door step (really cheap!!), a lawn mowing service and a cleaner for a weekly tidy up for a month :)
helpful (1) 
 Why do some women think that pregnancy and birth turns them into an invalid and they can't do anything? Why does your brother have to do everything while she does nothing? Shouldn't they both be doing it? Does your brother work? Sounds like she needs to grow up a bit.
helpful (2) 
 Mum is going to offer to help, docs would be the absolute last resort. My brother works full time and does help a bit, he does the garden, cooks a couple of nights, dishes and cleans kitchen every night, picks up toys at night and most washing, folding etc on the weekend.
After having the first baby SIL said she didn't get to spend any time with the child as she was cleaning all day, I understand how she feels but my brother wants to spend some time with his kids too.

helpful (1) 
 Can't believe then responses. My house would be messy to your perfect standards but I a man pregnant and sick. Sometimes being pregnant means you are sick all day, so what if the house falls short, your sister in law should be more important than a vacuumed house. DOCS won't remove a child for the house being messy
helpful (2) 
 We cleaned very mouldy food out the fridge, the oldest child had wet the bed long enough ago for the pee to have dried, dirty nappies left on the floor, bin overflowing. It was awful, you want to live like that it's up to you, but not my niece and nephew.
helpful (1) 

I'm an introvert and I hate having people in my home at the best of times. I see where she is coming from but the reality is you were trying to help her out and I am sure in time she will realise this. I don't think you need to apologise but maybe Mention your sorry for making her feel that way, it wasn't the intention. (Your a champ btw)

She probably hasn't let anyone else see the state her house was in until you cleaned.
I understand people like their privacy but comon three kids stuck in a pigsty she is really lucky you helped her in the first place. Anyone else would likely report it if it was that bad.
I am a straight forward person so I would probably just say if you don't like it then clean your own house. It's not fair or healthy to expect kids to live in filth.
If she couldn't cope with two kids it's quite likely that this will be an ongoing thing

Many years ago my family lived upstairs in a house in Detroit and my mom's sister lived downstairs. They were going on a trip and my aunt asked me, a twelve year old, to sweep her kitchen floor and wash dishes for her. I was having so much fun pretending it was my house, I wanted to keep going. Mother's house was spotless, always, and her sister was a bit of a slob. I begged mother to help me clean their whole house as a nice surprise for when they came home. Mother balked and said sis would not like it, but finally gave in to me. It was so clean and nice I was sure they would jump for joy. :) Afraid not. My aunt, who was married to my dad's brother, gave her husband an earful which he had to pass on to my dad. I couldn't understand it, but now that I am grown with a not so spotless house, I do. I guess the best thing is to mind our own business and buy presents instead of cleaning houses.

if my mum did it I'd be fine, if MIL did it I would be pissed (it would never happen). however I feel her presence in my house an alien invasion.

Oh boy. I get your intentions but this could be a major invasion of privacy to some people. It's just not done. :(

I would apologize because she feels her privacy was compromised. Some people don't like others in "their space." I would tell her it was meant wit only positive feelings in mind not to upset her. Then I'd ask, next time before doing something like this.