To be annoyed that my mum chooses to live this way?(114 Posts)
My mum is 60, single and lives alone... In absolute squalor. I've always disliked visiting her house because of how dirty the place is. She seems incapable of having anything nice. Everywhere is a right mess, especially the kitchen. There's always a ton of washing up, dirty surfaces, clutter everywhere and I just don't understand how anybody can live like this. She doesn't even own handwash/soap, tea towels, a mop bucket even plates and cups because she refuses to cook. She's a very lazy person and can happily sit in her pjs all day watching TV. It's a shame because hardly any of her friends or other relatives visit her, probably because they feel the same way as me about her house. Is it a sign of depression? She probably is quite lonely and stuck in a rut, although she's been a total slob for as long as i can remember. Should I bring it up with her or just accept it's who she is? She seems oblivious and was deeply offended when I made a joke about not wanting to cook in her dirty kitchen. Even the cutlery in the cutlery drawer is dirty! I feel like an awful person writing this as I do love my mum and I do a lot for her but I just want to understand why she lives this way.
It sounds to me like depression - having had it myself for many years, this is how I would probably end up without my medication and if I was on my own.
Maybe a chat with her GP would be helpful? Forcing her to clear up won't get to the root cause. For some people, living in squalor can be a kind of comfort - almost like a nest. She may even be frightened to start clearing up, as it is like taking away her comfort zone - even if it is bordering on a health threat.
Sorry I can't be more help, I just feel bad for both of you.
I wouldn't necessarily leap to assuming she's depressed or lonely. For many people friends, people visiting and keeping a clean home are just irritations. For lots of people being a slob and watching tv all day would be their idea of heaven (my mum is like this - mid 60s, lives alone, doesn't want a relationship or friends, enjoys her own company and isn't fussed about cleaning).
I think all you can do is turn yourself off from it when you visit and if you do feel she's depressed try to talk to her about it but she may not be.
My dad lives like this, and he is extremely happy, so I am for him.
Cleaning is not a priority for him, and as he lives alone, it doesn't affect anyone else.
Has she always been like this OP?
Is it something she is really comfortable with? Does she ever try to get on top of it? The fact you mention she has no plates makes me wonder if she may have been trying to cut down on stuff that will create extra mess and threw them out, in an attempt to make things better.
Does this make her uncomfortable? Is she embarrassed?
Does the state of her home stop some of her essential needs being met?
As a sufferer of depression and anxiety, (I am ashamed to say this next bit) that my house has, on occasion been in a right state, think of swinging from one end of the scale to the other (currently saved by working from home, and school hols, and generally feeling well!!!)
It's very hard to get out of the cycle of being unwell, and it effecting the house, then the house makes you feel even worse!
Does your mum have spare money? If so, a cleaner may help... if she feels embarrassment it may mean she does a little bit of a clean before cleaner comes. That's one way of helping
What about going and buying cleaning products with her? It always pushes me to clean if the house isn't how It really should Be.
Good luck to you both. Depression is a hard one, I seem to have lost the last 4 1/2 years to depression. But the past 3 months have been better
Please be prepared to not always get on with the first tablet that is tried, and mum will need to try hard to get back on track I always thought the medication would fix it all with no help from me.
It isn't necessarily a sign of depression. I'm a very messy person myself, and so if my DH. We aren't dirty, just messy. It's apparently a sign of intelligence, according to some study. My DH is very, very intelligent. I'm not too bad too.
we had a social worker round for my gran(to fit mobility aids) and were told that actually they really don't realise.there cleaning is weakened by two thirds.so if they scrub a carpet,work surface it wont do it and they'll think they've wiped down everything when they haven't seen due to failing eyesight and mobility the bits we see and take for granted in seeing.she said often they think they are doing the same as they lways have and simply don't have the strength nor sight to be doing so. them wiping the cupboard is like us stroking it.
I'm just back from visiting my friend. It was squalor. Really bad. But she's always been similar.
She's got worse. It's awful..... And sorry, but you can't have mess without dirt. It was dirty. Flies in the kitchen and piles and piles of 'stuff' including rubbish, stashed everywhere
She was embarrassed, but she won't change it
How clean are you OP? It can affect your perception of other people. Are you very, very clean?
mumontherun i have a clean home and kitchen but always have a few flies lurking in my kitchen this time of year because I have a dog and two cats to feed in a tiny kitchen. Flies don't necessarily indicate absolute filth and squalor
Thank you for all your replies. It's comforting to know my mum isn't the only person in the world living like this! I think she's probably suffering from depression (this wouldn't surprise me as she has had a lot of trauma in her life). I'm not an obsessive cleaner and my house gets cluttered, I think the difference is that I clean up as I go and have a proper clean once a week, whereas my mum doesn't bother doing either! I probably need to try my best to ignore it and help build up her self esteem.
Can you arrange to meet her elsewhere? That way you don't see her house or have to cook in her dirty kitchen AND it might get her out and about and give her something to look forward to. If you've tried to talk to her and she was offended, I think you have to let it go.
I really would not concern yourself. I have some relatives in law who are similar. I have concluded after a couple of huge clean ups, clear outs and I mean 8 adults spending 16 hours each that it is a lifestyle choice. Yes there may be complex reasons behind it but frankly life is too short.
If your mum lives alone and is happy enough then just leave her to it.
I just stayed in a house with someone like this. It was absolutely disgusting. We couldn't help but clean a little bit more each day. I expect it's back to the same level of squalor now (eg dried on vomit all over kitchen tap & sink when we arrived). The house belongs to a friend, I'm not sure what to tell the friend.
I find it odd the lack of hand wash/soap. How does she clean her hands after the loo?
I think, like most things, you can't force people to change if they don't want to. And sometimes, even if they want to, they're not emotionally equipped to be able to do so easily.
The state I live in is a good indicator of how my mental health is doing- extreme either way and I'm probably not that well. If I can keep a balanced middle (keeping to basic cleaning routines but not allowing cleaning obsessions to develop) then I do ok. During depressive episodes the place would deserve a visit from Kim & Aggie. I can watch "obsessive compulsive cleaners" and empathise with both the cleaner and the cleanee!
I think all you can do is make sure she knows that if she wants help to sort it out, you will help her.
Lots of people don't clean their hands after the loo- my mum doesn't and it drives me crazy. She has had the same empty bottle of hand wash on her sink for the last 4 years. She also lets her dogs drink the dregs of the tea out of her mugs and so on. She's always horrified when she visits my house and I Hoover every morning and bleach toilets everyday and so on. She thinks it's all unnecessary and such a waste of time!
" Flies don't necessarily indicate absolute filth and squalor "
I was shocked by the accusation that they do! I have fruit flies because I have to have my food bin inside (live in a flat with no outside area). I keep water and vinegar in a jar and they do eventually drown in that, but having flies doesn't mean I'm dirty!
Perhaps the OP's DM had a DM like Fairylea/?!
I was brought up in a pretty untidy home, my mither did very little cleaning! But looking back, I can see that her and my DF were unhappy for years, (eventually divorced) and she was probably depressed! I'm now in my 60's, and all my adult life I've had to have a clean and very tidy environment, it's not obsessive, but I do think it's the result of living in a mess as a child!
I think living with a parent like my mum does make you go the other way. I am bordering on obsessive about keeping the house clean. I just can't ever let it become dirty as it reminds me of growing up in such a mess. I was always embarrassed to bring friends back and I used to take my school uniform upstairs straight away from the washing machine and hang it up in my own bedroom with the door shut because my mum chain smoked and the whole house stank of it. She thinks she is normal and I am extreme ....!
How long as your mum been like this OP?
I feel sad for her tbh. She does sound like she's in a rut.
A friend of mine(much older than me) lives like this as well. He is prone to depression but he's always been like it. I didn't mind until he had a stroke and I realised his flat was uninhabitable. I had no choice but to go and sort it out as the hospital wanted to discharge him. I should have made his son come and do it. And not let him put me down as next of kin because social care wouldn't help as he had me.
My mother lives like this. She just can't see how revolting the house actually is - kitchen is vile, there is literally a chopping board sized space where she has to prepare everything in a reasonably sized room. I've tideied and sorted for her so many times, but within weeks its back to the same old shit hole. I can't go there anymore because it gives me the rage. She does have depression and other mental health problems though.
I see a lot of houses like this. It's pretty horrible and I do think it impacts on people's mental state, but ...
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