I feel really ashamed about this, but I live in mortal fear of having visitors, and I can’t have friends round, because I’ve let the housework get so out of control.

I still work, and have a salary, so I know folks will say: “Get a cleaning lady! Problem solved!”. But then I feel I’ve got to clean up before I engage the cleaning lady, so I’m only asking her to do the routine maintenance - not fix it from scratch.

I’m quite a quiet person, not that keen on entertaining, so most times, it doesn’t really matter. But now I have a friend wanting to visit from France. It’s the end of November, so plenty of notice, but I’m already really worried about it! I’d much rather meet for a meal/drink on neutral territory, outside the house, but feel really bad saying he can’t come here.

It’s so bad, I’m almost tempted to “lose” his e-mail, and say: “What a pity! I never got it!”

Has anyone else found a successful way to make themselves do the housework? Alternatively, has anyone had any success with the strategy of being honest, and saying: “Look, it’s best for me that you not come to the house, because it makes extra work”? (My friend does know I’m not well, and was very upset). I know he’d almost certainly say: “Don’t worry, it’s you I’m coming to see, not the house!” But I’m sure anyone who’s been in this position will understand it’s not quite as simple as that. I will still stress about it, even if he’s said: “Don’t worry, I’m not interested in that”.


Hi Tina

I can really relate to the lack of house cleaning (mine sounds similar). However I wouldn’t stop people visiting I’d simply say to them yes its not the same as it used to be but that’s life my illness means I can’t keep up to it - so if you want to do it you have my blessing. Its funny how they then say well its not too bad. Believe me it is.

I work full time and am too tired when I get home and at the weekend I go for oxygen therapy which wipes me out for the weekend. I’m reluctant to get a cleaner in as I don’t like strangers coming to my house and as I live in a rural area they would most likely want ferrying to and from my house and I’m simply not up to that.

If you’ve told him your situation and if he says he coming to see you and not the house then I’d let him come - you never know he might help you or at the very least get a clearer understanding of how MS has affected you and your life.

I’d hang on to all the friends you can as many so called friends disappear when you have MS and those that don’t are true friends. Maybe he is a true friend but if you don’t give him the opportunity then you may never know…

Best wishes, Mary

Hi Anita

I don’t know if my twopence worth is going to be of any help…

…but one good thing about MS as far as I’m concerned is that there is no expectation that I will do housework.

Your friend is coming to see you and won’t care at all about the house. It is you that it is bothering.

One solution would be to pay a cleaning firm to do a one off blitz and then have a cleaner in periodically to keep on top of it.

Relax don’t let this spoil your enjoyment of your friend’s visit


Hey Tina I can really relate to your problem. As my legs have got weaker and more painful my housework has become more neglected. If I look back this has been getting increasingly worse over time! I go out of my way to ensure no one comes to my house except for immediate family who know the score. Tbh some of them turn their noses up too even though they know my situation! I understand why you do not want your friend to see the mess but I note that you said it is a he, if he’s anything like my husband he won’t even notice! I know it is easy for me to say this because I would feel the same way as you but anyone who is a true friend will not care. I have a feeling that I have not been all that helpful but I do understand how you feel. Thinking of you. Tree65

Oh, I know that feeling. But you know yourself that it is completely bonkers to be reluctant to have nice people to visit because they’ll find out you’re not a domestic goddess. Once you’ve accepted that, most of the problem goes away.

I know it’s hard; I know you would LIKE the house to look nice; you would like your friend (who is a ‘he’ I note, and therefore probably won’t notice one way or the other) to see that you are keeping the house looking nice.

Tina, you know what to do already, you just need to give yourself permission to let your inner slattern take centre stage. It’s easy once you try, and I should know.

Leave the duster in the cupboard, open a nice bottle and enjoy your friend’s visit. If you catch him running a finger across the surfaces to check for dust, kick him down the stairs.

BTW I do have someone who helps me clean an afternoon a week. Despite her best efforts, the place still looks as if it’s come under mortar attack most of the time, but I’m WAY too busy doing interesting stuff to worry about that., and so should you be!



Hi, well of course you could just explain to friends and decide not to be embarrassed about it. That’s one good solution.

I’m just going to offer a suggestion because you and others think your homes are too far gone for a cleaner. I used to be a professional cleaner so I speak from experience. Yes a local person will probably expect it to be not too bad to begin with (although most local cleaners will expect to do a spring-clean on the first clean), but the professional cleaning teams are very used to going into places that are in a very very bad way. They often get called into clean a place where someone has died or gone into care, and certainly not always but sometimes the property can be in a very bad way. I’ve also gone to clean homes of the fabulously rich and you would be surprised… some of their homes are like on that show ‘how clean is your house?’. I can assure you it means nothing to the cleaners apart from the fact that it will take them longer to clean, hence more money for them.

I only write this to assure anyone that there is not any way that somebody should be embarrassed to pay for a cleaner or cleaners. One good solution might be to get a cleaning team in to do the spring-clean and then find a local cleaner to maintain it from then on.

One big mistake that people sometimes make is to get a cleaner in until the place looks wonderful and then don’t think they need a cleaner for a while. Big mistake. Having a cleaner come in once a week, or at least once a fortnight, is the only way to keep it clean and well maintained.

Now I’ve said all that I’ll also agree with others… so what if the place is a mess? If you can get over your embarrassment about it, so much the better, but if you can’t, get a cleaner. It’s money well spent.

Pat x

Hi Tina, I think I recall you having a problem like this before, eh? With a visitor I mean.

Ok, so how do we contact Kim and Aggie?

Failing that, perhaps it would be a good idea to engage a cleaning agency…so what if the place makes you feel embarrassed…they are there for cleaning up, arent they? Dont feel embarrassed, just use the services on offer.

Then perhaps it will be easier just to keep tidy. If my PA has time after sorting me out in a morning, she runs the hoover round, gives the kitchen and bathroom a quick mop and wipes the porcelain round.

Do you think you are in a position to need/try for Direct Payments? It took me a few years to get hubby to agree to this, but now we really value her efforts and would hate to be without her.

Joan Rivers says this about housework;

You clean the floors, you make the beds, you do the laundry…then 6 months later, you have to do it all again`.

True, innit!

luv POllx

Hi Tina, I wouldn’t worry tbh, your friend is coming to visit you and not to do an inspection of the state of tidiness of your house. You referred to your friend as"he" and this will apply even more to a male friend, my guess is that he won’t even notice! As for tidying the house, this is not meant to make me sound like a domestic goddess, lol, but I try to maintain tidiness. Rubbish goes straight to the bin, if something is left lying around I ask if it is anybody’s and for it to be tidied away, if not I bin it! But I try to thik of housework in 10-15 blocks eg 10 mins first thing gets the washing done and then the same later on gets it put away. Then when I get home from work, 15mins gets a job done and then the same before bed. I just try to keep on top of it. I am not good with the Hoover, far too poorly balanced and bad at walking so my mum tends to Hoover when she visits. Sorry, this makes me sound so regimented, I am not, it is the only way I can do it. Tina, I hope you enjoy your friends visit. Cheryl:)

The very first thing I did when I got DLA was get an ironing company. The second thing, about 5 minutes later, was get a cleaner. YAY!!!

It’s true, I do have to tidy up a bit before the cleaner gets here, otherwise it would be tricky for her to clean in places, but I never clean first. You don’t really have to tidy up much either - I’m talking about things like telling the kids to clear their bedroom floor of clothes so you can actually see the carpet(!) and piling up all the papers I’ve left lying about the coffee table. It’s actually quite good - if she didn’t come these things wouldn’t happen at all! I did once have a cleaner who used to tidy up too. We still speak of Ingrid in awed tones of voice - she was INCREDIBLE! Her VISA ran out and she went home though :frowning:

If you are sure that you can’t stand the thought of him visiting a messy house (I sympathise with this - I’m the same), I’d go with Anne’s suggestion and get someone in to do a blitz. You could then arrange for someone to come regularly if you wanted to keep it up. You don’t have to get them to do all the rooms and you can get them to do other stuff like change sheets and clean windows etc too - money well spent for me anyway.

I hope you enjoy the visit, whatever you decide.

Karen x

I remember a lady I work with who also has MS and her approach was that if visitors had an issue with the clenliness of the house, she ould show them where the cleaning materials were. I do like to be tidy but with a family who are less tidy-orientated, I have to accept that my house will never be a showhome.

Take care Tina


Hello Tina, you’ve had lots of helpful replies with good advice I think. 2 thoughts occur to me 1. why not say to this friend that ‘why don’t we go out for meal, so we can both relax and enjoy catching up on each other’s news’ and you can invite him back for a coffee/chat afterwards if you feel more comnfortable about it all by then? or the other way round, quick meal at yours and then out for a few hours so the focus won’t be entirely on your home.

You don’t suggest the friend is actually going to stay over, so surely there will only be the need for him to see a few rooms - hall/living room/kitchen/bathroom perhaps - so could you try to do a bit of tidying up perhaps a room a day, get each up to spec and shut the doors to any other rooms! And order a pizza, Chinese, or similar to keep the workload down.

enjoy your time together, there’s nothing like the company of good friends

Gill x

Thanks everyone. In some ways it’s a relief just to hear from others who can relate to the problem.

I think part of it is I never know if it’s MS, or “just” laziness, so I tend to feel guilty and embarrassed.

I’ve always been naturally untidy, which doesn’t help. But things have slowly got worse over the years - presumably as my health has deteriorated. Although the strange thing is, even though I noticed I wasn’t getting as much “stuff” done - including housework - it never dawned on me it was a health issue. Not until after I was diagnosed.

I still don’t feel very confident or comfortable inviting my friend round, despite all the good advice. The fact I’m worried a month in advance shows it’s never going to be a relaxing or enjoyable experience for me. So I’m going to have to insist we go out for the evening. If he wouldn’t mind the mess, then equally, he should not mind my preferring that he didn’t come to my place. No, he hasn’t suggested staying over (yet), and there’s no romantic interest - on my side, at least - so I won’t be missing out on anything in that respect.

He’ll be on a business trip, so he’ll be at a decent hotel, at company expense. It’s not as if he hasn’t anywhere to spend the night.


Hi Tina,

Have you thought about getting a robot vacuum cleaner? You just set them to go, they bimble about the floor and then park themselves back on the charger when they need to. The good thing is that you need to have the floor clear of stuff so that it can get places, so it helps with tidiness too. I used to have one when I had two cats and a dog with short hair and it coped well with the pet hair - then we got another dog who has longer hair which just clogged the hoover, so I sold it and now hoover sporadically with a normal one. Another thing I have found is that if I spread the housework out over a few days, I can get it done, the days are gone when I could just do a blitz, so I hoover one day, dust the next, do dishes every couple of days (I’m now on my own in the house, so it’s possible for me to do this). My house is not as clean and tidy as I would like, but it’s passable.

I think that the suggestions of getting a professional company to do a blitz and then a cleaner to do maintenance are good.

Luisa x

Hi Luisa,

I was one of the first converts to the robot vacuum cleaner - mine’s a Roomba (I’m on my third one, I think). I’ve even got the Scooba kitchen cleaning robot, too.

Sadly, neither has solved the problem. Having to tidy up everywhere before they can run is the very reason I hardly ever get round to it. And I got fed up with having to “groom” it all the time - all those fiddly little bits.

I still think they’re quite good. I got one for my mum, but much to my annoyance, she never uses it either, but for different reasons. She got annoyed it keeps getting stuck in inaccessible places, and she can’t get it out. She also finds it difficult to stoop to pick it up, being at floor level.

Thanks anyway, for the suggestion. For anyone who’s struggling with vacuuming, they are a boon. They just don’t solve being defeated by the housework altogether. :frowning: When they invent one that can tidy up as well, I’ll be first in the queue!


Hi Tina, really interested in your roomba, I considered one myself on many occasions because I find hovering quite awkward but my mum seems happy to do it when she is here and she is here a lot so just settled into a routine with this. Cheryl

Hi Tina,

I can only add that the one thing that really guarantees that I have the incentive for cleaning, is for me to put on a Queen cd. Somehow Freddie’s dulcet tones can kid me into thinking that polishing is actually a great hobby. Either that, or get in a little woman regularly who will hoover and dust 'til it’s spik & span.



Shame you’re in Scotland. If you lived anywhere near Mum (Northern fringes of London), she’d probably be happy to give you it. I’m sure she’s never going to use it!

There are pros and cons. I don’t think it’s quite as effective as conventional vacuuming, but for anyone who struggles, it’s a whole lot better than not being able to do it at all. As already discussed, you have to clear the decks before it starts. It can navigate to a certain extent, i.e. around large heavy objects like wardrobes or sofas, but if there’s anything smaller on the floor, like books or magazines, or computer cables, it will blunder into them and get tangled up.

It also takes an age to do the whole floor, because rather than move purposefully, it adopts a more-or-less random pattern, that relies on eventually covering everywhere by chance! If you’re sitting watching, you may get frustrated and think: “Even I could do this quicker, MS and all!” So ideally it’s better to let it run when you’re out or doing something else.

But then you might return and find it’s stuck somewhere, and bleeping for help, and has only vacuumed about a yard. Haha, it’s quite funny, really. It’s hard not to think of it like some crazy animal, because it seems alive. A lot of people give them names.


Does anyone have a cat that takes a lift on the Roomba? It seems the Roomba can save on your pet’s energy too.

Steffi xx

I have the same feelings about my friend coming to stay next weekend,and like you often feel lazy/guilty/ noticed I’d stopped doing stuff leading up to dx. Well, some ways I’ve approached:

  • Roped in a helper, my mum.
  • Doing a very small amount each day-even just once surface/one shelf at a time.
  • Pacing myself and having breaks (so tidying away for 3 minutes at a time with 5 breaks, rather than 15 mins in one go etc.)
  • Lowered expectations!

Is working for me but if not solveable right now for you, seems you’ve had good advice re: cleaning company, not visitng your house or just not worrying about the MesS! Hope you will enjoy your friends visit anyway!

Hi Tina,

Make your life easier and keep your energy for entertaining your friend. We all need friends.

My cleaners have just gone. They come in once a fortnight for an hour and hoover everywhere and clean the bathrooms.

It’s a great help and I just have to do the little bits.

If i have visitors I save up all the sheets and towels and take them to a laundry service - done in two days and well worth the money.

Food - order online - at sometimes of the day it is only £2.

Enjoy your freindship, they want to come and see you not your house.

Jen x