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How Untidy Do You Have To Be?

(191 Posts)
HowMessy Sat 08-Sep-12 23:52:32

Not sure if this is the right place, hopefully there will be someone who sees who can answer this. How untidy does a house have to be for an other wise loving and good parent to have child protection proceedings?

My mum has just reported me to social services for being too untidy. She is happy to state I'm a good mum, I am caring, I give my children lots of opportunities etc but she thinks I'm too untidy.

In the last 6 months I have had visits from different professionals (not for child protection) at least once a month and none have expressed concern, in fact when she put the complaint in I was still under a family support team and the case closed (they were looking to see if they could find a way to help me with school runs as one of my children has mobility problems as do I). The social worker asked the worker about it and she said she had no concerns, Mum's response (she had this call whilst I was with her) was "I'd like to see what her house looks like then!" well she may need to look at the houses of 7 different people who have visited me in that case!

I admit I'm not the tidiest person, but I don't think it's that bad (certainly in a previous relationship and whilst I was childless it was a lot worse and has got steadily better since I had children) it's not so bad that we can't vac 2-3 times a week (as I said, I have mobility issues and pulling a vac around isn't easy for me or it'd get done more often) there's nothing about that's dangerous to the children.

Mum is a child protection social worker and it feels like she's asking her friends to tell me to tidy my room (she did that when I was a teenager!) my previous HV said that she kept trying to get her to make a referral about me but she had told her that it wasn't that bad (it was worse than it is now when she last came here) she told me that Mum isn't taking her work hat off and whilst she might make an issue of a house that looks like mine she can't see that it would be as part of something else and that on it's own she (HV) wouldn't refer it.

I have a social worker making a visit on Monday which will be the first time we've met him. Half of me is convinced he'll say that it's nothing to worry about but I'm also worried because I'm not sure Mum will let them drop it so easily.

Collaborate Sun 09-Sep-12 07:44:31

A house that is really untidy can sometimes be the symptom of a chaotic lifestyle. None of the professionals involved in your family think that to be the case, do relax. Untidiness in itself is not grounds for SE intervention. Perhaps you can share with your new SW how your mother is undermining you. They may be able to help.

EdMcDunnough Sun 09-Sep-12 07:49:26

Crikey. That's really horrid that your mum is doing this sad

Our house is a TIP. I do make an effort to tidy up if a HV is coming round - obviously, when I have a small baby it will need to be as well. But there have been times when it's been atrocious.

My mother is the patron saint of tidiness and she has never threatened to report me to anyone about that - however she did once mention reporting me when I decided to HE my eldest child hmm

She never did afaik, I was gutted that she considered it tbh. And I sent him back to school after a term, when a place came up, as I couldn't handle the antipathy towards my decision and huge lack of support for it.

I would suggest that your house is likely to be way better than mine. Please don't worry. But you might need to think about sacking your mum sad

what are mothers there for if not to support us?

EdMcDunnough Sun 09-Sep-12 07:52:00

I don't mean to put a cat among the pigeons btw - sorry. She might be great in other respects. I just think it is terribly sad and unhelpful of her to be going at you from this angle, rather than trying to help you out with the house for example.

My life is fairly chaotic as well - but the children are always at school on time, wearing uniform, reasonably clean and very very nice people. I think that says a lot more than the state of their house. Though it is not ideal to be messy - of course - I also have some health issues which mean I find it very hard to keep up. But we are trying, aren't we - and we care.

EleanorHandbasket Sun 09-Sep-12 07:53:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Longtalljosie Sun 09-Sep-12 08:05:10

I agree with Eleanor. In fact I'd be tempted to say to the social worker that a pristine house is very important to your mum and you feel that she's using her position to force you to share her priorities.

Toughasoldboots Sun 09-Sep-12 08:08:29

I would speak to your Mum's boss too- she is abusing her power and using that position in her personal life.

I would have nothing more to do with her.

ZillionChocolate Sun 09-Sep-12 11:43:31

I thought your mum sounded like an unreasonable cow until I saw she was a CP SW. In my experience, houses have to be dangerously untidy or coupled with abuse/neglect to justify any action from social services. I cannot understand why your mother has done this. I assume she hasn't offered you help/support which you've rejected.

FizzyLaces Sun 09-Sep-12 11:55:37

Your Mum should not be abusing her position in this way. I would also complain.

HowMessy Sun 09-Sep-12 12:25:06

She's been in a couple of times and blitzed the place, sometimes she's helped me do something like tidy the kitchen but she doesn't see that it's not as easy for me to keep it as tidy as her house (but I don't think I'd even want it that tidy). The social worker is going around to her house on Monday because she has the kids (she took them for a couple of nights last weekend for a break as their dad was working away and took their clothes to sort out and never brought them back!) and he wants to speak to them, so I'm sure he'll see what her place is like.

I think the fact that we play World of Warcraft is part of it because it's been a factor in a few of her cases lately, but I play weekly if that, he plays a little more often and we're not into the raiding that is time intensive, we're part of a grown up guild where everyone has life priorities. We don't allow the children on it which has been an issue she's come across.

She's told them I have bug infestations, we're in a maisonette in the last house so unfortunately it's doubly par for the course. We have salted access points to stop the slugs getting in which has worked and we raid to stop the bugs (roaches mostly) she keeps saying she comes out of our house covered in bites but other than a bad mosquito bite I had (which the GP diagnosed wrong because it couldn't have been the mossie that I was trying to stop landing on me) no one else has ever been bitten.

I plan on telling the SW what she's been like and suggesting he talks to our old HV, hopefully she'll be willing to back up what she was like. I don't care if this gets to her managers, I hope it does. I don't think she's going to stop unless shes gets told off for it and I don't think anyone else is going to work.

edam Sun 09-Sep-12 12:28:56

Messy's one thing - my house is a tip thanks to hoarder dh - but cockroaches?!

colditz Sun 09-Sep-12 12:41:30

Now I say this as a filth pig, so don't think I'm judging you because I'm not.

But to have cockroaches, you've got some deep cleaning issues going on. You can raid them, but until you dig into the grubby cracks and clean them, they are going to keep coming back. The slugs are not a cleaning issue, even very tidy people get slugs if their house is in a damp patch.

Are you sure yve not gone blind to it? It's very easily done.

Go and grab some bin bags. If you can fill more than one per floor, you've got too much crap hanging around and you need to address it.

Said with love and total empathy x

EdMcDunnough Sun 09-Sep-12 12:42:53

Ok. Now you have got me - cockroaches are notifiable I think? I'm not sure - do you have a dodgy restaurant downstairs or something?

I think that this might be something you need to deal with asap - I'm not sure what the harm is that they do but I have a feeling they can spread food poisoning and so on.

Sorry, you sound like a nice, reasonable and intelligent person but if you have cockroaches then they do need to be sorted. The council should be able to help.

That aside I still think your mum is being unkind.

margerykemp Sun 09-Sep-12 12:54:33

Is your landlord not responsible for cockroach infestation?

Surely this is a professional job?

Have you got a photo of a room in your house?

What is in your sink and on your kitchen worksurfaces right now?

When was the last time the DC's bedsheets wee washed?

Are the clothes they have on today fresh on?

When did they last have a bath?

when was the toilet, sink and bath last disinfected and scrubbed?

Is there any debris in any of the kitchen cupboards or fridge?

Are there any full bins/bin bags waiting to be emptied/taken out?

EdMcDunnough Sun 09-Sep-12 12:56:50

Rentokil page about roaches, might be useful - you can identify the type you have, it's got pictures and everything smile

SavoyCabbage Sun 09-Sep-12 13:01:14

My very good very lovely friend has a hoarding problem. There are no clear surfaces at all. There is nowhere to sit. There is nowhere for her ds (10) to sleep as his bed is underneath stuff, he sleeps in her bed. She often can't find any uniform for him so he stays at home.

It's so hard as she is lovely. She just can't do the housekeeping thing at all.

I am so worried about her but she's not just untidy!

EdMcDunnough Sun 09-Sep-12 13:05:55

Savoy, it sounds a bit like ours except we have a pretty clean kitchen and bathroom. There's not rubbish lying around much, just 'stuff' of which we have too much.
Not many clear surfaces (except in kitchen). But my children always have uniform and always get to school on time, and they sleep in my bed because they are anxious at the moment...though ds1 does sleep in his sometimes, and he can do this, it's not covered with stuff.

I'd love a tidy house, I just don't know how to do it.

I doubt there is much you can do to help your friend apart from trying not to judge too harshly, that will be valuable to her - I am always ashamed to have visitors.

SavoyCabbage Sun 09-Sep-12 13:12:08

I don't judge her because I can absolutely see she can't help it. I couldn't make her walk if she had two broken legs. She doesn't want to live in chaos.

She has lovely things. Furniture and loads of wedgewood. But has been eating off paper plates for a couple of years.

She can't throw things away. That's a big problem.

Your mum is probably just trying to help but she's really crap at it. I know my friend has has other people try to help her by decluttering and it doesn't help at all as it stresses her right out. People just seem to think that there is a quick fix but there isn't.

EdMcDunnough Sun 09-Sep-12 13:16:07

Savoy, you're one of the rare people who seems to understand this problem. I'm glad she has you for a friend.

You're right - no one else can solve it for her. I find it very hard to get rid of things - yes if they break, hooray, I can chuck them without feeling bad. Otherwise it is a case of huge guilt and anguish over how much I paid for them, what a waste it was, and things like that.

If someone arbitrarily tried to take over those decisions for me I think I'd be really upset. (my own mother tries to tell me to throw it all away - but hardly anything is broken! I can't do that). Plus my mother hates having possessions and is always giving things away. I think there is something wrong with her - well I know there is - she admits it. I'm scared to turn into her. I wonder if one day I'll feel strong enough to forge my own path without the fear of becoming the other extreme.

SavoyCabbage Sun 09-Sep-12 13:24:41

That's exactly what she says! She thinks about how much it's cost.

I once went round to help her with her ds's room and I was baffled when I found that we were doing it without a binbag! It hadn't occurred to her that we would need one. grin

I tell her that she thinks of the past and the future far too much and the present not at all.

For example her ds has over-flowing bookshelves because she can't bear to part with "That's not my dinosaur" etc do he can't get to the books he wants to read now.

She spends most Saturdays trailing around garage sales and markets. She is collecting a dinner service for her ds. Who is 10! She can't see that he would rather go to the park on Saturdays now, than have a dinner service in 20 years.

EdMcDunnough Sun 09-Sep-12 13:30:28

Oh that is really sad. It sounds like by buying stuff, she might be trying to displace thoughts of real things - in short, you're right, but she doesn't want to think about the present because it scares her or is just too frightening or painful. For whatever reason - possibly an irrational one.

So instead she thinks about something a safe distance away sad

For people like her/me, life's default position is one of running away, wanting to crawl under a stone and hide from what we really ought to be doing or thinking about. Like when you might avoid starting a huge essay or something - even if you know you can do it and will do it really well, you just can't find the bravery to start, to go to that place it will take you to, and get that involved with it. You know it'll be a big deal once you begin. So it's safer to put it on hold and nt even go there.

BalloonSlayer Sun 09-Sep-12 13:33:58

"The social worker is going around to her house on Monday because she has the kids (she took them for a couple of nights last weekend for a break as their dad was working away and took their clothes to sort out and never brought them back!)"

Sorry . . . are you saying that your DCs went to your Mums for a couple of days a week ago and she hasn't brought them back again? Are you OK with this? Or is it the clothes that she hasn't brought back?

HowMessy Sun 09-Sep-12 19:51:06

The roaches come from the same areas as the slugs – the access panels. I’m on the outside so goodness knows what lives in them, the access areas go the entire 5 floors of the building so I’m keeping them mostly out of ours by spraying where they get in but I can’t get them out of there. It’s honestly not an infestation, at least not in mine, goodness knows what the access looks like.

Have you got a photo of a room in your house? I’ve got some pictures, I’ll see what I can put onto my profile later.

What is in your sink and on your kitchen worksurfaces right now?

When was the last time the DC's bedsheets wee washed? They’re currently stripped because they’ve been washed, before that was the last week of august (so only slept in for a few days)

Are the clothes they have on today fresh on? Not here at the moment but they always have clean clothes on.

When did they last have a bath? No idea, see above, I don’t believe daily baths is good for their skin but they have about 3 a week. I only have to ask if they want one and they’re upstairs naked plugging it in!

when was the toilet, sink and bath last disinfected and scrubbed? I tend to do the toilet when I use it (I hate poo stains!) I keep bathroom wipes handy and use them when I wash my hands/ brush teeth (not every time obviously) bath gets cleaned when it’s used, it’s another one that’s not easy with my mobility problems.

Is there any debris in any of the kitchen cupboards or fridge? Not last time I looked.

Are there any full bins/bin bags waiting to be emptied/taken out? No.

EdMcDunnough, that’s how I worked out what they were.

BalloonSlayer, it’s both I’ve not had back! I should have had them back yesterday when their dad got back from working abroad but she’s decided that they can’t come back, whilst he was away she was talking about going for private fostering or a residency order! We spent some time with the youngest yesterday and have had the three today, we’d have kept them but we have nothing to dress them in. Hopefully the SW tomorrow will tell her she has to give them back!

Colditz, I’m not blind to them or it, honestly. I’ve had 7 different professionals in my house for various reasons over the space of 6 months and all have said there’s nothing that they’re concerned about. One of them said to me it looks like a normal house with children in. I’ve been using the time without the children to get ready for Monday and I’ve got half a bin bag at the moment. Some in the kitchen went into the kitchen bin but that’s smaller than the bin bag and that’s not full either. I’ve actually impressed myself with how little I am taking out.

ZillionChocolate Sun 09-Sep-12 19:57:45

I had slugs when I moved house, took some time to find the right hole to block up. I hated it and couldn't settle knowing that they might come in. I don't have much understanding of cockroaches, but that sounds like a much greater problem than untidiness. Maybe having an objective opinion will help.

StripyShoes Sun 09-Sep-12 20:06:34

Wait! She took ALL their clothes? That's not going to look good to a sw, that they have no clothes in the house Also, make sure beds are made.

I would be very very angry if this was done to me!

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