DEAR HARRIETTE: I am having some work done on my house. I can’t stay there, so I am staying with a friend to save some money toward my home repairs. I appreciate my friend taking me in for a few weeks and not charging me rent for a room. I am trying to remain humble and thankful, but my friend’s home living conditions are outrageous. She constantly blasts music throughout the day and night. She has a ton of old food in her fridge and leaves it out on the counter. She doesn’t take out her garbage regularly in the bathrooms or kitchen, and the dishes are dirty and piled up. I have been cleaning up often to help her out and after myself, of course, but after a few days of her not cleaning up, it's a mess all over again. I do not know how she gets by when I am not there to clean up for her.
I do not feel it's my place to say anything. I want to pack my things and run to a hotel, but I just can't afford it. How can I make this arrangement more viable for myself? -- Stay-at-Home Maid
DEAR STAY-AT-HOME MAID: Maybe you can take this approach: Ask your friend if you can have a chat. Thank her again for allowing you to live with her. Then tell her that you have noticed that she needs some help to keep her home in order. Point out that you have been cleaning and are happy to continue while you are there, but that there are a few things she could do that would help. Suggest that she devote an hour a day working with you in her home.
I say this because she clearly doesn’t have the discipline. If you make it fun and focused, you may be able to teach her a few things that will help to get her on track. Maybe you can work and talk. She needs to get engaged for it to be possible for her to develop new patterns. Gently encourage her to work with you a little bit each day.
No matter what, as long as you live there, you will need to pull more than your weight. You have to be OK with that. It beats rent that you cannot afford.