Boogers, Beer Bottles and Begrime

opinion 1 I am looking for advice on how to handle working in a household where "messy" is an understatement. Trying to keep this post as anonymous as possible, here is a list of the ongoing issues:

- Piles of Mail/Flyers at front door and hanging over mailbox that go unnoticed.
- A re-occurence of garbage/recycling bags that have not been put out for weeks.
- Toys everywhere and no distinct rule or place to put such items even through there is a toy box.
- Liquid spills, boogers on walls and furniture that is in the common areas of the household.
- Random clothes piles that go unmoved unless I tend to them.
- Unmade Beds on a daily basis. [Parent included]
- Dirty Laundry piled up, that will go unwashed for extended periods of time unless I do it after it stinks for quite a while. [Even though laundry service is not in my contract]
- Full sink of dirty unrinsed dishes after the weekend. [I wash all dishes on Fridays only to come to a weekend's worth on Mondays]
- Full dishwasher of sometimes half dirty/half clean.
- Full, foul-smelling compost kitchen catcher.
- Untidy kitchen counters with take-out food boxes and random alcohol containers, untended to unless I return them!
- Fridays dinner left-overs, still on the table.
- An almost empty fridge with limited/no options for dinners, snacks and lunches. [Mind you, I pick up groceries once per week, however basic items are never restocked]
- Floors full of debris that need mopping and sweeping.

Additional Information:
I have been with this family for 3 years and this has been re-occuring since the beginning. I have verbally addressed the issue, as well as through letters and detailed requests. Nothing has changed or shows signs of changing. I adore the children as well as the parent (single parent household) however I am at a point of enough is enough... also, this takes so much of my time and energy to tend to. My contract states child care only/child laundry... I go above and beyond my job descriptions which are left "unnoticed" and almost "expected" as it has been going on for so long now.

I am heavily compensated for my child care job, banking between $2,500-$3,000 a month for one child, trips, and access to a car... however, do you think I deserve more, or that this issue should be addressed, or should I just suck it up and be happy because I make great money and have fantastic perks?

~Clean Nanny~


Wow said...

Only you can answer that question. You are working as a housekeeper/nanny (notice I put housekeeper first). Is that what you want your job description to be? If the answer is no, start looking for another job. If it hasn't changed in all this time it's not going to. However, I notice leaving is not one of the options you mention. If asking for more money or sucking it up are the options, I'd definitely ask for more money. Find out how much housekeepers earn in your area and come up with a figure for housekeeper/nanny. And revise the contract - not that it matters because you're not following the original one anyway. But at least you'll have it in writing.

I guess another option would be to ask MB to hire a housekeeper to come at least once a week, but how likely is it that she would? I, personally, would leave. Not worth it. Disgusting!

unicornsparkleprincess said...

Maybe I didn't see, but are you supposed to clean all this up? Has she asked you to clean everything? Or are you just cleaning up more than you're supposed to because it bothers you? If it's the latter, then stop cleaning so much! I work for someone whose house is messier than I would like, but I don't clean up the messes that were there before I got there because that's not my job nor has she asked me to do so. If anything, I think it's dangerous to go so far in your cleaning because you're setting a high standard for the parent to expect of you, when it's not even your job.

Honestly though, I can't believe you would send letters repeatedly telling them to clean up! Maybe it's just not my style or something, but it's their house and I would never think of asking my employer to keep their house clean for me. That is unless she tells you to clean up their messes, which I'm still unclear on.

alex said...

wow, I couldn't do that no matter how good the pay was because I am not a housekeeper, but you need to ask yourself what you can handle. I like the suggestion of asking her to hire a housekeeper once a week. It isn't fair to the kids or you to be in this dirty situation!

Yuck said...

OMG, I could have written this exact post. The house I work in is disgusting and I find myself constantly cleaning up (even when it's not in my job description) because I just can't stand it. I can't easily fix the kids' lunches when the counters are still covered in dinner plates from the night before. Disgusting. Also, if I don't want to break an ankle during the day I have to come in and clean up the several hundred toys and little pieces of toys that are ALL OVER the huge house. Things are really bad on Mondays when I haven't been there all weekend. And why is it that they can't pull their trash cans and recycling to the curbs? Ugh! Now they have mice in the house because they let the kids walk around all over the house as they are eating so there is food everywhere.

I'm just going to suck it up and keep cleaning up because I really like the kids and the parents (the Mom anyway) and I really don't feel like looking for another job. It does blow my mind though how people can live like such pigs.

MissMannah said...

I'm with Unicorn. I work in a house that is messier than I prefer, and I have done so in a previous job. You just have to learn to look through the messes, rather than at them.

I did not understand one thing: you said first that laundry service is not in your job description and then you went on to say that it is. Well, which is it? Surely you're not doing the mom's laundry without her asking? If you are, then you're a sucker. If her dirty clothes are in your way, like my MB's are, just kick them into the corner of the room, which is exactly what I do.

If dirty dishes are cluttering the table and sink, pile them all up on the kitchen cabinet, which I also do. Eventually she'll get the hint and have no choice but to wash up. I use 1 plate and cup for myself and 1 plate and cup for Baby K every single day and I wash them by hand twice a day.

You've been working there for 3 years so I don't know why you've been letting it bother you for so long. Just let it go or get another job with a neat freak. Right now I am looking at a disgusting crumb-encrusted stove top that has not been wiped down once the entire 3 months I've worked for this woman. Also, it just occured to me that the only time the baby's clothes have been washed was the time I finally gave up and did it myself. Most of the time she'll just go out and buy him new outfits rather than do laundry. But it is none of my business and none of that is in my job description so I just stay out of it because I enjoy the good relationship I have with her.

MissMannah said...

Yuck, ok I said OP was a sucker for cleaning up after her boss. I don't think you are because you said there's mice in the house. That's a health issue and nannies are mandated reporters. You need to call CPS. But then you'd have to find a new job so I don't know, it's rally one of those "rock and a hard place" situations.

don't do the cleaning! said...

My first nanny job I was in a similar situation. The boy was 7 years old and the parents were such scatter brains that their house was a disaster. They would try and enforce cleaning but it just consisted of the boy shoving stuff in the corner so you could see the floor. At first I would try and organize the toys but I became so frustrated when I would return the next day to a mess again.

The kitchen was another story. There would always be dishes piled up and they never asked me to do them. I would leave one night at dinner time and when I returned the next morning, all the dinner dishes were still all over the place. It was hard to make lunches and cook with dirty stuff all over the place but I tried my best. I don't think it was that bad that it was a health issue but it was definitely their lifestyle to get it when they felt like it. I am so much cleaner but it wasn't in my job description to clean so I didn't.

As for OP's dilemma.... I think you should not do any cleaning other than what you agreed on. If you start doing other cleaning then it is probably making the parents rely on you to do it. It is their choice and their right to live in a messy house but if it is not suitable for the nanny or the children, that's when it becomes a problem. If you are willing to do more housework, I would approach them and ask them for a raise to do so. If you don't want to do the cleaning, suggest that they hire a housekeeper. If they don't want to do either of those, you either have to quit or just continue to deal with the mess. If the mess is unhealthy for the kids, call child services. Just don't start doing the cleaning for no extra pay, even though I know it annoys you. That will back yourself into a corner and won't be good for you. Best of luck and please update us!

OP said...

Dear Everyone :)

OP here.

To clear the confusion, the child's laundry is listed on my duties not the parents.

Also note, there is no MB just a DB thus it is even harder as men are known to be less tidy than women in most cases.

After I read some of your posts I realized that my DB's house is not as messy as the mice ridden house @ Yuck I believe the poster. I would love to talk with Yuck furhter as I feel that you best would understanding my point of view.

I make a huge about of money with great perks and thus leaving isnt an option. The parent has a cleaning service that comes in once every two weeks and they are willing to bump that up. I feel that the issue isnt so much a cleaning service as much as it is being "tidy" and taking care of the day-to-day....

Thank you everyone for your posts and please keep posting with suggestions as I do read the blog daily.

I am almost at the point of stating that I will watch the child out of my home rather than their dirty/unorganized home...


Village said...

It's harder to get a house clean than to keep a house clean.

I suggest asking DB for a housekeeping service for a full house deep clean. And be prepared to throw a lot of stuff OUT. Think Hoarders. If it isn't clean and in its place at the end of the deep cleaning, it is thrown out. Then maintain that level of cleanliness.

Help DB with a schedule. Make a HUGE note for him when it's time to take out the trash. (Can you put the trash between him and the door to his car?) And make a grocery list for DB, and tell him when to use it.

Whether you like it or not, you are the House Manager. Once you get the house running like a top, ask for a raise. Start making decisions, like sending our his laundry if you have to. The children deserve to grow up in an orderly and fully functioning home.

SSA said...

Hi OP. I find this situation interesting, my mother has a lot of shi* around her house and dirt and general untidiness. I can be there for around 3 hours before I start cleaning because it bugs me so much. However, I dont think she notices the dirt/mess/dust because she sees it all the time.

Maybe the DB who lives in the house every day just doesnt see the mess. It clearly doesnt bother him at all or he would hire someone/do it himself/ask you for help etc.

My general feeling is that its not your house, its not your job and it may be conceived as rude for you to do tasks such as laundry without instruction to do so. Same applies for throwing stuff out, unless its in the garbage do not throw it out, its not your decision.

On the other hand - maybe the wife (before separation) kept the house clean and he never did anything around the home. This could be part of his transition into single-parenthood.

If it were me I would do my duties and nothing more regarding cleaning. This can be applied in any area of the job one does. My MB allows the 4yo to drink from a bottle, While I don't agree with it, she is the mom and thats what she wants.

However, I do understand your feelings - my moms dirty house just makes me want to clean and sadly it never ends well - "did you throw XX out?" "did you move xx" "why did you throw XX into the garage" etc etc.

♫♥Amy Darling... said...

If your DB is a working single parent, I imagine with work and kids, he barely has time to clean the house. It would be great if he could hire a housekeeper. Perhaps you could "hint" to him that he should.

You make great money and have great perks so in this economy, I would do everything I could to hold on to this job.

MNNanny said...

I am with you, OP, and some of the PP' of my families (I'm in a nanny share) is so messy/dirty that I feel like I need to shower the instant I get home. Same situation: I'll do dishes, laundry, clean up everything short of scrubbing toilets just so I can live and work there for 9 hrs a day, and it'll be back to the same conditions the next day. Seriously. FOUR sippy cups, for ex, in ONE night. How does anyone need that many cups in that short of time??

I've come to realize, though, after them never thanking me, that I honestly dont think they "see" the way they live. I know I have pretty high cleanliness standards and can be admitedly a little ADD when it comes to that, but this is way beyond gross. Another ex: I got there one morning to find DC's dinner plate from night before upside down on the kitchen floor with dried ketchup and food on it. Presumably for their dog (dont even get me started on how dirty he
Is!) who is given their plates after meals to finish off, including DC's HIGH CHAIR TRAY!

Ugh. I love the family though, and my DC, so I try not to mind it anymore and just remind myself that I get to go home to my clean house at the end of the day! :)

nanny2 said...

Definitely ask dad to bump up to once a week (or twice a week, if willing) housekeeping services. Also, try to renegotiate your contract with him by stating, "I seem to have taken on these responsibilities, which are not in my contract. I would be willing to make these part of my regular responsibilities if I could be compensated for them..." etc. (of course that's if you're okay continuing with whatever tasks you've taken on). Although I would find sending out dad's laundry at your own discretion (as one pp mentioned) slightly presumptuous, there's no harm in asking if he'd like you to call a laundry service once it piles up.
As for the toys, depending on age of child, teach him/her to clean up their own toys. Then you can mention to dad, "Child has gotten really good at cleaning up. Have him show you tonight before bed!"

nanny barb said...

If you have great pay and perks...maybe ask for a raise? I am a nanny and every day I clean up the kitchen...go to the laundry...cook dinner. You know what is in my contract? Kids laundry...I love this family and want them to have quality time together in the evening...that's why I do so much. Also doesn't hurt I am paid $4 more an hour than any other nanny I know...and have a million other perks. I know I have a sweet deal. I am just saying that if u like everything else...maybe just help the family out if you truly have great pay and if I was making 10 an hour...I wouldn't do nearly as much. I would just make things nice for the child..but I do think most Nannies take care of the family laundry...and maybe you need to get more groceries when you go shopping or need to go more often.

been there too... said...

I can relate to both sides of this post as well.

I used to care for a family whose house was so disgusting, it really freaked me out and yet the parents didn't care at all. When mice started living in the kids' closet, the parents thought it was CUTE that the kids named the mice. The baby's third word was "today" since her learned from her siblings to try to ask 'is this from today?' before eating or drinking any food since even the baby had drunk food that had gone bad.

In my other jobs, I used to pick up the kids toys, collect and wash any dishes from throughout the house, and do laundry all without asking just because I wanted to help the parents (more so for the families that I liked). However, with the very nasty family, I started taking the kids out for activities or to 'playdates' at my house and to restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because I was afraid to feed them anything from their house. Eventually i realized I was spending so much money to feed and entertain the kids outside the home that I really couldn't swing it anymore financially. Although I am a wimp about confrontation, I had to tell the parents that they had to have the housekeeper ocme more often, or just bring them to me at my house anytime they wanted me to watch them. I loved the kids but I just couldn't deal with the mess or pay to avoid it anymore.

After about 9 months the parents decided that they didn't want to go out of their way to bring the kids to me anymore and found a caregiver that would go to their house... Unfortunately, in the last three years they have been through at least 7 caregivers which is too bad for the kids...

oh well said...

It does sound like you are in charge of the entire household.
So why can't you decide a specific place for toys? Also, is there any way you could involve the kids with a system of chores - and I am saying this as a mom, because it seems to me that if the children are old enough, they can probably make their own beds and take care of piles of clothes and put their toys away? I am not sure there is much you can do about the dad, though.

Yuck here again... said...

Okay, today I actually found some granola bars in the pantry that looked like the mice had been eating (through the packaging and all)!!! Beenthere, my one charge also asks "Is this old?" because he's drank old sippy cups full of curdled milk one too many times to know that now you ask before you drink. And just like MNNanny, there will be at least 4 sippy cups for each kid in the sink from the night before. How does one go through 4 sippy cups in a few hours before bedtime!?! I have actually posted on here before about this messy situation and everyone advised me to report to CPS, but then there would go my job. I have my own kids that I need to support so I really can't do anything that would risk my job. I just try to get through my days in the filth. I am very careful where I sit over there (gotta watch for those mouse turds) and where I put my bag so nothing jumps in. I also do not eat a thing from their house. I won't even drink the water (it has a really weird smell to it). If I didn't have time to pack something that day, then I don't eat.

Nanny S said...

You just have to make the choice of if it's worth it or not. Really, the pro vs. con's list. If ANYONE is going to change, it will (and should) be you. This is THEIR house. They employ you. You two come to agreements about cleaning or whatever and that is that. Even though I'm sure it's disgusting, this is like ANY working condition, you need to either get over it or if you think it's unacceptable and inhibiting your happiness to the point you should find a new job.

I babysit regularly for a family like this. Their house is messy, and the kitchen is atrocious. Sometimes I am stressed just standing in the living room, but the mother is wonderful, as are the children so I don't let it bother me. Sometimes I clean because a) I can't stand it and b) I can tell by the mom's reaction that she is so grateful and so run down from having three kids. They are not well off enough to afford a house keeper so me babysitting 3-5 hours a week is a luxury and they pay me above market rate, so I make it work.

Carefully weigh your decision and then don't feel guilty about it too. This is a factor in your happiness and that is very important.