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.