to ask for advice on how to help my friend(18 Posts)
This could be long.
My friend (S) lives 200miles away. We've known each 12 years. She has a 7 month old DD, I have 3 month old DS.
She's just wrung me in tears, her partner (P) is annoyed with her due to the state of the house. To be fair, it's a tip. I'm 200miles away but I know this because it's always a tip- at uni I refused to live with her at uni due to how bad she is (empty wardrobes, drawers and shelves as all clothes are on the floor, a small walk way from front door to kitchen etc. She admits she's messy and as can be expected has got worse since she had DD.
We are very different people and conduct some aspects of our lives very differently, which I am aware can make me come across here as judgy- I don't judge her choices in RL, we've learned to accept and understand these differences of approach over the years.
One of the things she admits she really likes about her DP is that he earns a lot of money. She says he's also a nice guy and good dad, I've only met him a handful of times, he seems nice. They have fought in the past about the mess but this time he's really upset her- partially because the health visitor has also expressed concerns.
Things she's told me that are upsetting her/ concerning:
DD spends all floor time in a small play pen/ travel cot due to the mess.
HV is concerned about the mess.
S says she is finding weaning really hard as DD 'takes forever to eat' and 'baby food is really expensive'.
P says she has too much stuff and needs o throw things out. (she agrees with this but struggles to find time).
P doesn't understand why S needs a break from DD, nor does he understand why she can't clear out her things during the day.
P is spending long hours at work - there doesn't appear to be a reason.
P hasn't slept in the same bed as S since she became pregnant, they do have sex but no other intimacy. He says this is due to him not sleeping well.
S doesn't understand why, when P is getting 7 hours sleep a night he is still tired.
S does all night wakings.
Most cooking and housework is equally split, though S admits neither do much and they eat a lot of ready meals.
P hasn't spent a whole day alone with DD, and is unwilling to.
She's distraught. Doesn't know what to do.
As well as listening to her I've made some suggestions and told her some harsh realities.
Baby-led weaning to remove the stress of her feeling like she has to get DD to eat a certain amount. Not sure how practical this is as they rely a lot on pre-made baby food.
That P takes DD to his parents (1.5hours away) for the day whilst she has a clear out- getting a skip is possible (P won't take things to the tip in his car and she doesn't drive).
That they talk about the intimacy issues and reinstate things such as cuddling, kissing, touching
Getting a cleaner (they can afford it)
Suggesting P sees a GP re his sleep (and possible depression).
That P spends more alone time with DD, for their relationship, for him to see how emotionally tiring looking after a child is and to give S a break.
Harsh truths I've told her (lovingly):
(I'm a social worker) a messy house an be indicative of neglect- I'm aware she does not neglect DD but other professionals only have a limited amount of info to make that judgement and the state of her house will be a concern to her.
That it is very difficult for a messy house to be clean (she keeps says 'but it's clean'- it isn't).
That she is lazy - she admits that DD has 2 x 2 hour naps daily, S does no housework in this time, I've suggested she has a 30min break, does 1 hour housework and then a 30 min break before DD wakes up.
That as DD gets older she is going to need space to learn to crawl and can't be kept in the playpen.
That P needs to do more parenting.
Have I been horrible? Can you think of anything else I can suggest?
They moved just before S got pregnant for P's job so she has no family near by and few friends- all friends are recent and not close.
S is reliant on P- he owns the house, earns 4 times more than her and she has no assets/ savings. They are not married.
Dependant on your situation, is it possible for you to go up and help for a week or so? She sounds very alone right now and may be struggling with depression which isn't helpful for cleaning etc. Having someone there can be a huge help and you can help her get into a cleaning routine etc?
For what it's worth, I think you've given harsh but good advice and I hope your friend takes it on board.
Cleaner leapt to my mind.
Does she go to any parent+baby/tot groups? She needs local support network.
steppedonlego I would go and help but my DS is 3 months and EBF, and there just isn't room in her house for me and him, he's a bottle refuser so I couldn't leave him with DH, otherwise I would.
I think you've given her very good advice. You going over to help Or her getting a cleaner isn't going to really get to the core of the problem- she's just a messy person. However she has a home, a husband and child and needs to pull herself together and tackle the issue. You say she's been this way for a long time from uni days, so it's not like a problem that can be put down to having a child and letting things go.
Her Dh must be pretty fed up putting up
With her filthy ways, and it's not right to do that to her daughter.
Does she have many local friends? I struggled a lot when DS was tiny and it was mainly because I had no local support network.
Are you on friendly terms with the husband? Have you tried chatting to him?
You don't sound remotely judgmental, btw - you seem like a lovely kind friend.
She can't rightly get a cleaner until the mess has been cleared, unfortunately. Cleaners are not tidiers!
lljk She does go to some groups but finds it hard to get out of the house on time due generally being disorganised and finding it hard to organise herself and DD so only goes to 1/2 groups per week.
Could you ring Home start in the area? Would your friend mind? Maybe they could give some support.
There is so much going on.
Maybe their relationship is deteriorating because of all the other things going on. Can her and dp plan to spend a day clearing stuff out?
Perhaps they need to start with the house (and she needs to change her ways) and work from their up. I know when our house is a mess it's depresses me.
He doesn't sound great. Do you think he is just a shit or do you think he is so fed up with having to go to work while she does the bare minimum, that he is angry and just acting like shit. But deep down he is a decent person. You did say one of things she likes about him is that he earns good money.
It sounds like a deeply unhealthy relationship. Which won't help her get her act together, which makes the relationship more unhappy, he gets pissed off and she is more unhappy and it goes round and round.
It's difficult to tell wether it's bad relationship or a bad cycle they are on.
I would suggest a big initial sort out where husband and friends and family help get everything sorted with safe playing space arranged. H might be more willing to help when everyone's on board, and can take stuff to the tip! Then a long term plan moving forward, including cleaner, online shopping list, and meal plan. It would be good for your friend to have one or two things scheduled such as sensory / mum and baby group.. but keep everything really really simple with lots of down time . Sounds like she's overwhelmed. I imagine she grew up in a messy household so just isnt at all used to putting things away after her but once she starts she will find life becomes a lot easier as you know where everything is!
I would invite the HV back when the house is sorted too as that might knock her confidence.
Her husband sounds like an absolute shit. He complains about the mess but won't facilitate her doing anything about it. Won't drive her to the tip, won't take the baby. But she is v vulnerable as she relies on him financially, so pretty much has to take it.
I would buy Marie Kondo's book and have it delivered there. I'd also see if there were any voluntary organisations that could come and help her clear out.
Jankinn her parents house is lovely (well certainly was when I visited with her when we were at uni. Very tidy. I don't know where she gets it from.
I don't know if P is a nice person at the end of his tether or if he's a shit. I think she pressured him in to having a baby (as in he wanted them but not quite then and she was just really persistent so he eventually agreed) so that won't be helping.
I find it hard to help and wonder if I'm judgey as I do find her lazy with regards to housework and disorganised (she's hardworking in her job and a very considerate friend) and I'm a naturally tidy and organised person. I've also started konmarie, but I feel it would be one step to far for her at the moment.
There's my theory down the drain!
If she's always been like this I see why it might be hard to be patient. Hopefully an ear bashing from her hubby and the HV will make her see that a certain level of cleanliness and order is called for when there is a kid needing the space. A couple of instances with extremely close friends I've delivered a bit of tough love and told them as it is ie 'you need to get your arse in gear and sort it, you cant expect your partner and child to live like that'. Both times they have thanked me for it afterwards but they are very open minded I know not everyone takes too kindly to criticism!
PS tough love in those instances NOT regarding cleanliness - I am not the clean police, I'm actually a bit messy!!
Maybe if her DP actually took an interest in the baby she would have more time to clean.
I have an 8 month old and am very untidy! My DP loves to tidy and clean, it relaxes him. Even so he wouldn't care if the place was a mess as its my job to keep another human alive and not worry about if I've scrubbed the toilet that day.
Junosmum you seem like such a lovely, non judgey friend - she's really lucky to have you. She does sound very vulnerable at the moment. I wondered if maybe she could be matched with with a volunteer from Homestart? They could be an extra pair of hands to play with her dd while she puts a load of washing on or does the dishes. Plus a listening ear for her, which it sounds like she really needs.
uh…cleaners aren't tidiers? really? i don't mean that judgementally, i just always thought that was…their job?
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