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To think that living in a very messy house does impact on children

(323 Posts)
HeatingOnInJuly Tue 14-Jul-20 21:11:15

I was thinking of this based on the "small ways your parents fucked you up" thread so it kind of stems from that

My parent's house was very messy - they would say it was normal family clutter, and that it was cosy and lived in, but I'm not sure I've ever been in a house quite like it since, so I think it must have been unusually messy

Door handles would fall off and were never fixed, ancient carpets would be ripped up and the floor would be left, bare cement, for months. Piles of washing everywhere. Nappies bagged and left on the floor for days, though they made it to the bin eventually. Kitchen was frankly dirty, with sides invisible due to stuff being piled on. Nobody ever put anything away after it was used, it would just be left. I didn't realise until well into adult hood that people would immediately put something back where it belonged after use, as a matter of course, everything from bottle opener to hoover was just left. Never sat at dining table due to being piled high with shit. Never taught how to do any chores or how to clean properly and manage laundry. Cupboards unusable as they were so jammed full of stuff. The furniture itself was good quality - plenty of art on the walls, sofas were expensive, good carpets when we had it - so I think this meant it passed as arty and bohemian but actually it was a tip

Never any clean uniform or Games kit which led to detentions at school. Yelled at for losing things when things inevitably got lost the minute they were set down. Difficult to study as the rooms were kept dark with the curtains closed. We were always late because of things getting mislaid. Clothes never hung up, just picked from a communal pile that lived in a walk in closet.

Friends would have been welcome, but by the age of about 8 I was too embarrassed to invite them,but of course I couldn't tell my parents that so I made excuses.

Parents had good jobs and were comfortably off, they just couldn't be bothered to clean or tidy as there was always something they'd rather be doing.

They insisted until they were blue in the face that it didn't matter, that life was too short to waste cleaning, that sort of thing, but actually all it resulted in was a dishevelled childhood where everything seemed out of control and chaotic. If I'd told them that the house was embarrassing they just would have laughed at me.

When I moved out and had my first child, I did what I knew and for about a year or two my flat was a mess. I didn't know how to keep things clean and organised, and I read things like that "dust if you must" poem that floats around and ignored 99% of housework because I was spending time with my child. But then I noticed the same thing happening especially when nursery started, being late because everything was lying everywhere or no clothes were washed or dry, "losing"new clothes or toys in the mess and only finding them once they were outgrown.... It made me realise that while obviously there's no need to go to extremes and scrub your loo with bleach and a toothbrush every day, there's a reason why being reasonably clean and tidy is seen as a desirable life skill. I had to teach myself how to manage a home and to do the most basic tasks thanks to the Internet

The state of my childhood home had a really negative effect on me, and I could see the same thing happening with my own child. no it's not neglect or abuse, but when your house is so messy that it's not a pleasant or comfortable place to be, or when the mess is causing regular stress and impacting on other ordinary bits of life, then your child probably would quite like you to do a bit of cleaning rather than a craft activity with them, certainly once they're a bit older. I think people are really fooling themselves if they think that level of mess doesn't impact on their children

OP’s posts: |
Gwenhwyfar Tue 14-Jul-20 21:15:34

YANBU. Not being able to invite friends round was a huge one for me. Up to a certain age I did because I didn't realise how bad it was then some girls from school came around to look through the window and laugh at me.
A couple of Christmases ago, I took a nice photo of my siblings and me that I wanted to put on FB. One of them wouldn't let me as he was embarrassed by the state of my parents' house. He's over 40 now, but still seems a bit traumatised by it.
Similar issue with things not being fixed and parents being too ashamed to call in a handyman or tradesman.

lukasiak Tue 14-Jul-20 21:20:42

YANBU - my house was always, always spotless growing up, but my (very young) grandmother's was always filthy and I saw the affects that had on my aunt (6 years older than me). It effects everything. You're embarrassed to bring friends home, it's uncomfortable, and like my mother, as an adult my aunty is a clean freak. Not a nice way to grow up.

icedaisy Tue 14-Jul-20 21:21:01

Yes agree completely and strangely was thinking along these lines today, but for opposite reasons.

My mum was the complete opposite, still is. Everything had a place and stayed in it. Beds made perfectly, curtains opened immediately. Toys out one at a time and away straight away, sometimes before finished playing. She was washing dishes as we ate tea. Hoovering multiple times a day.

If I move an ornament one centimetre she notices and puts it back.

I'm feeling this creeping into me. I can't leave a bed unmade. I can't go to bed if the dishwasher has not been turned on. I'm nowhere near as bad but have to correct myself frequently. I let Dd play but tidy when she is in bed. Hoover once a day.

labyrinthloafer Tue 14-Jul-20 21:25:49

There's a level where it gets too much and things like no clean uniform is not on and does impact.

But a house at the too clean end can be unpleasant for children too, not relaxing.

CleanQueen123 Tue 14-Jul-20 21:27:14

I grew up in a house not dissimilar to yours OP, although we did at least have clean uniforms and clothes which gave the impression to the outside world that we were a totally normal family.

I was too embarrassed to have friends round. The few that I did allow round were very close friends that I knew wouldn't judge me.

My parents used to blame each other for being lazy but they've been separated over a decade and both their respective houses are just as bad.

My sister isn't too much better when it comes to housework. I think her partner has higher standards so that keeps it in check.

I vowed to never let my child grow up in a house like that and to feel too embarrassed to have friends over. As a result my house is almost always "guest ready" or could be at short notice.

I taught myself how to clean because that certainly wasn't a life skill my parents were going to teach me.

HeatingOnInJuly Tue 14-Jul-20 21:29:35

Yes the other extreme isn't good either, one of my sisters has gone like that. Her kids are allowed to play and get dirty, but they have their wellies and play clothes in a special box and it's all brought out specially and then my sister is up at midnight washing it all to within an inch of its life. It's definitely a reaction against the way our parent's house is I think.

OP’s posts: |
Attictroll Tue 14-Jul-20 21:29:40

My parents overly tidy house impacted mine - not feeling relaxed enough being scared of friends coming over and leaving any mess. Walking on egg shells never living up to standards being nagged constantly. I vividly remember being badly scolded for leaving a used tea spoon on the draining board and on another occasion not pegging clothes on a line the right way up think pegs at edge of a skirt not waistline. My brother and I gave also discussed how it has impacted our adult relationship with parents neither of us like inviting them over as scared of any mess bring on show. My father usually manages to be rude about my home before he has walked through the front door!

SerenityNowwwww Tue 14-Jul-20 21:32:02

We used to joke that out house was always ready for the queen to stop by. I’m not kidding - scrubbed three times a week (hoovered daily). We also hikes that you could drop something and mum would have it put away before it had a chance to hit the floor.

Mum didn’t like me to have friends around - and I was embarrassed because we had ‘the big house’ and some kids were little shits about that to be honest. We had a big house and huge garden - but that was because we had a huge family ffs!

Our place is small but in a really nice location. I do dream of having a cottage and a garden but hey, you can’t have everything can you?

BertieBotts Tue 14-Jul-20 21:32:17

This graphic was shared recently in a FB group I am in, and I was surprised because everyone was relating to it and I cannot. Mess just does not stress me out. Like you my house was often a tip growing up although probably not to the same extent. As an adult I admit I am useless at tidying up and keeping things nice. To be honest I am a bit ashamed of it, but only when I really think about it - most of the time it doesn't bother me at all. I don't find it stressful (except for the losing things part).

But your post made me think of it, so I thought it might be useful to share as a lot of the group members said it was helpful for them to contextualise.

SerenityNowwwww Tue 14-Jul-20 21:33:21

Funnily enough - all us kids are pretty messy! I was neat when I was younger but I can’t be bothered these days!

BertieBotts Tue 14-Jul-20 21:33:24

Didn't attach I don't think (it will show up in 5 minutes and make me look silly!) smile

CodenameVillanelle Tue 14-Jul-20 21:33:47

Actually it is neglect. What you describe about the filthy kitchen as well as the rest of it is definitely neglect. Children NEED a home that is safe, secure, sanitary and with space to play, learn and develop. They need clean clothes and enough organisation to get to school on time every day. You didn't have any of that. Your needs were neglected, and it's shit.

farrah93 Tue 14-Jul-20 21:35:30

I'm 15 years older than my youngest brother, and since my parents got divorced, my brother has now grown up in a house probably more worse than yours. It's vile, rat infested, smells, decorating got abandoned 8 years ago.

I've tried everything, but she won't accept blame, i've offered cleaners etc the lot..

now my brother is becoming down right a tramp.. and his mental health isn't good.
But he won't come to live with me either..

my husband has had to teach me basic life skills such as cleaning, and everything you've described!!!

Popsie17 Tue 14-Jul-20 21:35:43

I am a firm believer in tidy house, tidy mind.

Of course it’s not healthy to be cleaning constantly but it’s not healthy to completely avoid housework.

Messy houses like your parents sound chaotic and yes probably would have a negative impact.

There’s a lady who lives near me. She openly admits her house is a tip, you can see it in the background of her photos and videos (she posts a lot on social media). I’m not just talking a little mess I’m talking you can’t even see the floor there’s that much junk on it, things piled high etc. She says that it’s because she doesn’t want to spend her life cleaning but to spend time with her kids. I get that.. it’s not healthy to be cleaning constantly (I probably clean too much tbh). But what she is living in is unhealthy and I would imagine she is some kind of hoarder. Her kids are always grubby too!

I am guilty of judging people’s house. I know that family houses are meant to be lived in and never going to be a show house. I’m not just talking about a lived in house but years ago as a teenager I went out with a guy and he took me to his house. Jeez. It was vile!! I won’t go into detail but I would feel really dirty there. There personal hygiene was fine but the house - yuck!!

Lifeisconfusing Tue 14-Jul-20 21:36:10

@Attictroll I could have wrote that post. I have 3 children and I am very house proud but my parents will always and I mean always find a fault.

There a mark on the window
Silly things like this.

I’m on edge the whole time it‘s like I have to clean 🧼 for the queen.

Gomezzz Tue 14-Jul-20 21:37:45

I don't think either extreme is good and can cause problems

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Tue 14-Jul-20 21:38:22

I have a friend whose parents had what I would class as a hoarders house. Even now, it has no heating at all, a garden wall fell in 15 years ago and every stone is still where it fell. They keep every newspaper, every box, every takeaway leaflet. They've never had their granddaughters over as the environment is not safe.

It's a mental health issue. Completely. It has ruined their relationship with my friend. My friends home is comfy, warm, inviting, tidy and clean, but lived in - not a show home, family home. Thankfully it hasn't affected that area of her life, but she constantly feels let down by her own parents for not being "normal".

Fishfingersandwichplease Tue 14-Jul-20 21:39:21

I think a messy house equals a messy mind. Don't mind a bit of fresh mess, ie only been there a day or so, but when stuff has been lying around for weeks or months, it stresses me out! Def think either extreme (messy or tidy) affects you as a child.

Sunrise234 Tue 14-Jul-20 21:39:45

Yes I 100% agree.
My mum had a mixture of MH issues so she was OCD/germaphobe as well as a hoarder. For example, she wouldn't cook us 'proper' food it would be something like oven chips that she wouldn't have to physically touch but most of these were 'dirty' so we weren't allowed to eat them but because she was a hoarder she wouldn't throw them out and they just stayed in the house.

I am a single parent and although my DCs are clean, well-fed etc I do struggle with basic household tasks like cleaning and cooking just because I hadn't been taught so like you I had to learn from scratch.

This post has made me realise that my DC will be learning from me so I need to make sure I am showing/teaching them the skills that I wasn't taught.

MitziK Tue 14-Jul-20 21:40:52

I agree that it is neglect at best - and outright abusive for many of us.

I grew up in a shit tip, too. Every single one of us has an immaculately clean and uncluttered home.

If it hadn't bothered any of us to get injuries from stuff left around, to have illnesses and allergies going insane over the sheer volume of dust and dirt everywhere, to getting bullied at school for being dirty and scruffy, to have this constant visual noise shouting at us, we wouldn't have made a point of teaching ourselves to clean and not constantly accumulate rubbish whilst refusing to ever throw anything out.

Merryoldgoat Tue 14-Jul-20 21:41:49

I agree OP. My house wasn’t so much messy but in a terrible state of disrepair and I hated it. It made me feel really embarrassed. Half finished decorating or DIY jobs etc. It wasn’t nice and I never learned how to tidy and organise
My home until I was much older.

I don’t like housework but I’ve realised clutter is the enemy so I’ve been doing a lot of sorting and odd jobs and it’s making a big difference to me.

I am desperate for my children not to grow up in that chaos.

Smallsteps88 Tue 14-Jul-20 21:44:33

I just want to say a very well done to you OP for actually recognising it wasn’t healthy and working hard to make sure your DC didn’t grow up as you did. It can be very hard to undo the well established “rules” for life laid down during our childhoods so you’ve done amazingly well to change it.

Also no it's not neglect or abuse

I actually do think it is low level neglect tbh.

SonjaMorgan Tue 14-Jul-20 21:45:37

I think there needs to be some sort of balance. My mother kept a clean house but never spent anytime with me. As soon as I was old enough for school I was made to "play" outside so that I wasn't making a mess indoors.

lunar1 Tue 14-Jul-20 21:45:58

My home growing up was always clean and tidy. But my brother and I never had what we needed. Uniforms always had things missing, having to borrow pe kit at school. Sent on a sleepover without pj's.

Never checked we had a shower. Never had the right equipment for school, we didn't even get stationary for the new year. I always made excuses why I couldn't go to parties as my mum didn't get a gift or card. I vividly remember the teacher using her lipstick to paint my nose red as I was the only child without for Red Nose Day.

It wasn't money, it was that she couldn't be arsed.

Without question I overcompensate now. My children go back to school with literally everything imaginable. Without fail I go through everything my boys need for the next day with them the night before. I go to every event the school invites parents to, and do the required baking etc!

I have overwhelming sadness when I compare my childhood to that of my friends.

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