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Lazy DIL and son is asking for my help

Started by TL_68, September 03, 2013, 01:37:55 pm

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First off I need to say that my son has asked for my help so I am not just trying to stick my nose in their business. He is at a loss and needs help.

They have been married for 5 years and bought their first house at 22. It is a beautiful home but my DIL cleans nothing!  They have 2 dogs that my son wants to stay outside but she refuses to make them so they are all over everything in the house. At any given time the sink is full of dishes with stuff growing on them, the entire sink area is covered with dried on food splatters, the garbage can has dried food all over it. The dog hairs are everywhere, huge balls of it fly around the room when you walk!!  I promise I'm not exaggerating!  The dogs sleep in their bed during the day and after my son goes to work in the morning so the sheets are full of dog hair, muddy and or wet.  Not ONE piece of clothing is in the closet or the drawers, they are in baskets all over the house or in the floor.  I honestly couldn't tell you the color of the carpet in their bedroom.  She leaves piles of dog food in the bedroom floor where the dog might be laying so it doesn't have to get up to eat.  And OH MY the master bath is the most disgusting site I have ever seen! The countertop is all sorts of colors from her spilled or broken make up and I am quite certain the toilet bowl hasn't been cleaned since the last time my son cleaned it.  My son works 60+ hours a week and has to be at work at 3am and my DIL is now a stay at home mom since my GS was born about 5 months ago.  The deal they made was that she stays home but she had to keep the house clean and she also agreed to babysit her neice and nephew 3 days a week.  So she still has 4 days a week that she could clean but she doesn't.

She has also gotten their finances in horrible shape because not only does she not have time to clean but she doesn't have time to pay the bills.

Again, my son has asked for my help but I don't know how to help without really being ugly to her. I have talked to her many times and offered help and guidance but she tells me she is doing fine and that "the house isn't that bad".  Any advice would be helpful as my sons 1/2 sister is coming from Germany to meet them for the first time and she is staying with them and my son is horribly embarrassed by the situation.


What a wonderful thing to have a website where I can say this anonymously!  I hate housework and I have never been very good at keeping up with it!  There are two unfolded baskets of clothes in my den now :)  My MIL has always been nice enough to give me enough time to clean up before she shows up, Thank goodness!!  I am not, however, lazy.  I garden, help with yard work, trim bushes, hike, camp and love to cook and put up vegetables.  My kitchen varies between looking like a battle zone and being fairly clean but never immaculate.  Sometimes the dust bunnies get out of hand (they do multiply!) and I do allow my cat to sleep on the beds.  Sometimes he is dirty and some of it does transfer.  My house is currently overstuffed but I know that the week after I throw something out I will need it LOL!  I kept thinking that my son would want some of this furniture when he moved out.....wrong!  Now I have all of these family heirlooms, some expensive antiques, and I don't know what to do with them!  Selling them seems wrong but keeping them in the hopes that someone will want them?  Ugh! 

Anyway, if I were you I would back out of the situation entirely!  Tell your son that you will help your DIL if she requests it.  Do not do anything unless your DIL asks you to and do not offer to do anything extra.  Make her ask.  She will probably clean it up on his urging and if she does not the he needs to fix things, not you! 
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
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My take is that is doesn't matter that your son asked for your help. It is between the two of them and he has to clear that through DIL for it to work. He is an adult...he chose her...and it is his/their mess. You have no place in it and need to tell him that. They have established a new family unit and they get to learn-as-they-go....(or not.) Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Welcome T.  I echo what Luise said.  I know he asked you for help, but this is a situation that you can't help with.  It's a no win for you and it really is between them.  He is going to have to work out the details of his marriage.  It sounds like you have offered DIL help in the past and in a nice way, she told you she didn't need it or want it. 

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Hi TL, I am new to this site and am a dil.  I agree with the other ladies that even though your son asked for your help it is hard to step in because you will be seen as the bad guy.  My only dilemma is this....there is a 5 mo. old baby there and two other children part of the week?  It sounds like perhaps your daughter in law is hovering on hoarding?  These don't sound like messes but more like filth.  How is the baby taken care of?  Is it clean and healthy?   Because to me, this sounds like perhaps there could be rodents/ants in the house?  I'm sure if my mil came my own home wouldn't pass the white glove treatment, but the food and messes splattered around bother me.  I would suggest to your son that rather than you stepping in, a counselor would be a great thing for them.  I think your son sounds like he's drowning here and he needs some help to sort this marriage out and it can't come from you.  Good luck.


Maybe your dil isn't lazy, maybe she is suffering from post-partum depression.  Most moms experience the baby blues after giving birth, but ppd is a serious mental condition that needs treatment.  Has she always been messy and careless with finances? 

Housework and babies are never-ending drains on our physical, emotional and mental energy.  Don't underestimate how overwhelmed your DIL may be caring for a 5 mo and her niece and nephew.  If her husband is gone 60 hours each week working, that's a lot of time to be cooped up with three children.  A lot of times the breadwinner decides s/he shouldn't have to pitch in with housework or childcare because that's the other parent's job.  Well, that's the other parent's job while the breadwinner is at work, but parenting is a 24-7 job.  When the breadwinner isn't at work, s/he still needs to step up to plate.  My husband used to complain that after a hard day at work, he wanted 30 min to kick back and relax when he got home.  I told him he could have his 30 min AFTER I got my 30 min.   We still culturally dismiss the value of the housewife/sahm (or househusband/sahd).  There may be more to the story of the messy house than your DS is sharing. 

In any case, this is a problem between your DS and DIL.  There are 168 hours in a week.  Your DS works 60 of them.  Let's say he gets 8 hours of sleep a night (a lot with a 5 mo!), that's another 56 hours.  Your son has 52 other hours each week. It's up to him how he wants to use them.  He can use them to clean house.  To convince his wife to clean.  To complain to you.  If he is that embarrassed at his sister's impending visit, he'll clean up. 

It's easy for us to tell you to back out and let your DS deal with the issue.  However, if you ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY HAVE to do SOMETHING, maybe you could get your DS a gift certificate to a housecleaning service for a one-time clean up.  This could run well over $500 if there house is big and it's that much of a mess.  Another thing, you could offer to take the baby on a day your DIL isn't babysitting.  But only if you don't get mad that she uses the time to sleep, do her nails, watch reality TV, etc., instead of cleaning. 

Good luck.


Thank you for all of your advice! It is really helpful to hear thoughts from people that are not emotionally connected and I appreciate it all. 

My DIL is a wonderful mother and I'm certain she isn't suffering from post partum depression as she is a very happy person, she just doesn't like to clean. She is perfectly content with the way her house is and would rather sit back and do her nails or watch TV in her free time. The problem I have is that right now my GS isn't crawling or walking so he isn't in danger right now, just living in a mess. But in a few months he will be crawling/walking and I have very serious concerns as to what he will be putting in his mouth and just the filth in general he will be subject to.  His 2nd day home from the hospital he was in the bed with them and when she was changing him the next morning she pulled a tick off of him!!  Once he is crawling I worry that he will be eating the dogs food straight from the floor.   :(  My DS wears dirty clothes to work because there is no way to tell clean from dirty without a smell test and after being mixed up with dirtys the clean clothes don't always smell so good.  I hate laundry as well and quite often live out of laundry baskets, but I do know what is clean/dirty and do not have animals rolling around in and sleeping on my laundry.

My DS does help around the house but the problem he has is that she won't do ANYTHING unless he is right there helping her so 2 days a week she only has DGS and she still does nothing. I was a single mom with 2 kids and a full time job and I still managed to keep a clean house most of the time. It wasn't neat and tidy but it was clean.

I have advised my son to talk with their church to see about counseling and I can only hope it will help.  In the meantime to avoid his 1/2 sister (his fathers daughter) walking into a really really dirty house and sleeping on a bed that reeks of wet dog, my mother and I (with DS and DIL approval) are going over to spend the day this weekend getting their house clean and ready for company and will go back a day or two before she gets her to do touch ups.  I just think it's sad that DIL doesn't care that we go over and spend HOURS just cleaning 1 or 2 rooms.  It is just an average size house so it's not the space, it's the daily lack of care on her part to spend just a little while a few times a week to straighten up.  My son says that the sheets on their bed (which dogs sleep on) only get changed/washed every couple of months if that often. I have always had several pets (dogs and cats) in my house and I also have dog/cat hairs all over but at least once a week or before I put babies on the floor I will pull out a vacuum.

Again, thank you for your advice and for a place to vent about this without hurting my DIL's feelings. I love her dearly and minus the cleaning part she is a wonderful DIL. I just worry what it will be like when he is mobile or when they have a 2nd baby.


You are a much better person than I would be in that situation.  Best I MIGHT do is to hire someone to do it, but to go clean it up and then have to go back and do touch ups, no - sorry.  If she or her child were sick and she truly needed help, I might would reconsider.  What's going to happen when it gets in that same state and she has more company or even more children.  They might need to budget for a housekeeper a couple times a month.  Not trying to be mean or offensive at all.


The only reason I am doing it is to avoid the embarrassment for my son and wanting to make the first time my children meet their 1/2 sister a pleasant visit for all involved.  Not to mention she is traveling all the way from Germany and I would hate for her to have to stay/sleep in the mess after traveling that far.  The only other time I have done it is when they brought my GS home from the hospital, I only wish I would have had the stomach to tackle the bedroom and possibly avoid the tick incident!  I do not, nor will I ever make it a habit to bust my back cleaning what she should be doing.

My son has also laid the law down that she either keeps the house clean or she has to go back to work so they can afford a housekeeper. We'll see how well that tactic works.


September 05, 2013, 09:39:09 am #9 Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 09:46:06 am by luise.volta
All we can do here is the best we can to imagine what we would do if faced with the same issue. I would let the company come and stay there and I'd step back so my DS and DIL could learn whatever they might need to learn from the consequences of their actions and inaction. They set it up and it's theirs. Enabling, no matter how well intentioned, is enabling.

It sounds to me like your DS had made this your joint problem and your agree. None of that makes sense to me no matter how much you explain it...but/and it doesn't have to make sense to me. This is a place for you to sort out your thoughts, to be heard and to get the perspectives of others. "Take what you want and leave the rest", TL. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I thought of you as I was doing paperwork with the TV on in the background this past weekend.  A few episodes of Everyone Loves Raymond came on.  I thought if you were like the character Marie Barone, you'd love to have a lazy DIL so you could swoop in and clean up her mess and feel needed.  Alas, it doesn't seem like housework is your breath of life. 

I hope your DS and DIL can resolve this issue and you can stay out of the firing line.  Good luck. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. 

PS - I don't want to start a discussion on the ELR show.  It would be a minefield for this forum, I think. 


QuoteThe only reason I am doing it is to avoid the embarrassment for my son and wanting to make the first time my children meet their 1/2 sister a pleasant visit for all involved. 

As Dr. Phil says - "when you choose the behaviours, you choose the consequences".  As Luise said - "enabling, no matter how well intentioned, is enabling".  I hope that I'm not being too blunt but many of us here feel we need to "make everything easy and good" for our adult children; I can guarantee you that my parents did no such thing.  Frankly, this is not our job.  Oh - I never could watch ELR - just too, too much ....


September 09, 2013, 01:32:27 pm #12 Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 09:51:08 am by luise.volta
I have no TV...on purpose, so I don't know what you are referring to. I still find myself sometimes trying to figure out how I can help with my AC's issues and have to put the emotional brakes on. I think I have quoted my dad here before but it's probably worth repeating. I was headed into one of my 'young adult learning adventures', (sounds better than again making and defending stupid decisions), and my dad said. "If you run out of money, honey, call me and I will tell you how sorry I am."  :D :D :D
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Quote from: luise.volta on September 09, 2013, 01:32:27 pm
I was headed into one of my 'young adult learning adventures', (sounds better than again making and defending stupid decisions), and he said. "If you run out of money, honey, call me and I will tell you how sorry I am."  :D :D :D

Lol  ;D


I agree with the other posters. It's best, usually, if a MIL doesn't get involved in issues between her AC and his/her spouse. There's likely no way to emerge unscathed. Now if a DIL/SIL were to come to her/his MIL asking for help, that would be different.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb