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home : columns : dear harriette February 25, 2021

12/23/2020 7:31:00 AM
Messy sister-in-law and kids need to clean up their acts

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm having issues with my sister-in-law about house duties. Unfortunately, she and her kids moved in with my husband and me after she lost her job and could no longer afford her home. My husband invited her to live with us, but it's a problem because they make a lot of messes. She expects me to clean up all the time because it is my house. It is annoying to clean up after everyone when you didn't make the mess.

My sister-in-law gets upset when I ask her to clean because the place looks dirty, but the mess is not coming from me or the few people who visit me and my husband. My husband doesn't realize it is her and her children messing everything up. How do I go about letting her know in a nice way that I am not cleaning up after anybody but myself without offending her? -- Clean Up

DEAR CLEAN UP: Talk to your husband and let him know that you feel the need to set house rules. Get him to agree so that you are a united front, then call a meeting. Be kind and direct. Let your sister-in-law know that in order for your household to run smoothly, everybody has to pitch in. Point out that you understand that children can be messy and create clutter -- and that you need everyone to clean up after themselves. Assign household chores to everyone that should be completed daily, as-needed and weekly. If she balks, let her know that these are the rules of your home, and you expect them to be followed.

She may not like this at first, but the reality is that it is your home, and you have the right to enforce the level of cleanliness that makes you comfortable.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Living with a bunch of roommates can be rough. There are a lot of arguments and disagreements because of money. Each of us put a utility bill in our name; we split the bill and pay the person who holds the account.

One of the roommates failed to pay me their share for the bill in my name. So when she asked me for the money for the bill in her name, I told her to take the payment out of the money she owed me and call it even. She said it was unfair because her bill share costs more than mine. I asked her day after day for the money on my bill, and she said I will get the money, but I never did. I offered to pay her the difference, but she's not accepting it. I can't see why she is being so unreasonable and can't seem to see where I am coming from. Am I wrong? What can we do about bill sharing in the future to avoid this type of misunderstanding? -- Bill Sharing

DEAR BILL SHARING: Having roommates is tough. So are the responsibilities that come with those roommates. Bills are at the top of the list. To get everyone in alignment, call a house meeting. State that the topic is bills, and then be direct in front of everyone about your concern. Remind all that each person has to be responsible, or you will have serious difficulties down the line. Bring up the issue at hand, and ask the group to weigh in. Move on from there.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.





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