search icon

“How Do I Keep the Place Clean When No One Will Help Me?”

You’re asking this because you’re invested in the unfucking process, and the people who you share space with are not on board. It could be roommates/flatmates, spouses, children, parents, significant others, whoever. The point is that you’re cleaning up and they aren’t. I love bullet points, so I’m going to bullet point the important stuff in this situation.

•You cannot change anyone’s behavior but your own. You can ask for help, you can beg for buy-in, you can threaten, cajole, plead, or yell, but in the end, you can really only control what you do.

•This is your priority, not theirs. This one might sting a bit, but it’s true. You’re on board, you’re energized, you’re motivated. Something spoke to you to get you going with this. They are not there. They have different priorities, other things occupying their time.

•With very few exceptions, they are not actively sabotaging your efforts. I’m just going to come out with it, because this can be a hard one to hear, but: chances are, they either don’t notice, or they don’t care. Before you make any progress with how you look at this situation, it’s really important to fully understand this. You’re seeing ill intent where there’s likely just apathy and/or laziness.

•Sometimes it’s better to be happy than be right.This one’s going to ruffle some feathers. I’m not saying be a maid for the people who live with you. I’m not saying to clean up after them. I do advocate putting all their shit somewhere (after telling them you’re going to do it) so that it’s not in your way, but if all you’re getting is upset and annoyed, you have to weigh whether it’s more important for you to have buy-in or to have a clean space. Again, you don’t have to be their maid, but cleaning your half of the stuff is still a 50% improvement from total disaster.

•Passive-aggressive behavior never works. It doesn’t. It backfires. Constantly. Post-it notes, snide comments, throwing stuff (well, that’s more aggressive-aggressive) does not accomplish anything besides allowing your resentment to breed and making the other person think you’re unreasonable and immature.

•Use your words. Explain to the people you live with why you’re doing what you’re doing. ASK them to help you out. Ask for help with very specific things, with specific timeframes. Let them know you’re going to keep doing it, and you may need to move their stuff (hell, toss it in a big box, I don’t care) in order to do so. Have the conversation as often as you feel is necessary, but have it without resentment, anger, or sarcasm.

•Give them time. Like I said, right now, you’re all in about this. They aren’t. But the more your behavior is consistently being modeled for them, the more likely they are to adopt it.

•Keep on keeping on. Don’t let someone else deter you from doing something you want or need to do. It sucks if you’re doing it alone, but this is about you, not them.


© Unfuck Your Habitat