DEAR ABBY: My mom has recently retired and is spending a lot of time at our home. She's constantly doing things -- emptying the washer, drying dishes. Anything that is untouched for a few minutes she'll get into. She also reorganizes our drawers and cabinets and thinks her way is best.
She even remakes the children's beds, which is part of their chores. She feels a bed needs to "air" for an hour after its occupant wakes up. When I tell her she doesn't need to do it, she says she doesn't mind -- but she's missing the point.
Mom is hurt because she feels I don't appreciate her, and I am hurt that she doesn't respect my rules. I'm grateful for everything she does, but I would like her to visit with her grandchildren and enjoy her retirement while she's at our home. What should I do? -- FRUSTRATED IN AUDUBON, PA.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: The problem isn't that your mother doesn't respect your rules. I suspect it's that she has worked all her life and isn't used to being idle. She may also feel so at home in your house that she automatically behaves as though she were in hers.
Have a chat with her and try to reach a compromise. Your drawers and cabinets should be off limits, and the children should be permitted to fulfill their chores. But if emptying the washer and drying the dishes makes her happy, let her do it and thank her for her efforts.
Your mother appears to be full of energy and have a lot of time on her hands. So why not encourage her to volunteer some of it at her church, a thrift store or a charity of her choosing? It will help her develop outside interests, meet new people and form some new friendships -- all of which will allow her less time to be "helping" you.