Not Compatible

In college, I always managed to live in basically what amounted to Grand Central Station. Lots of roommates, someone always sleeping somewhere in the apartment, someone always cooking something in the apartment, someone always drunk, someone always hungover. Always people to hang out with.

Occasionally I had a roommate that I was not compatible with. This was usually (always?) because of that person’s lack of cleanliness. I liked things orderly. I could handle the crowds and the chaos and the noise and the lack of privacy and the drama and the parties and the steady stream of people in and out (in fact, I loved most of those things) as long as a mop was shoved across the floor and the toilets scrubbed out on a regular basis.
When I came across someone that was a pig hard to live with, it was nice to know that living arrangements would be changing up again. And soon. College was one fluid motion of classes and new apartments and seasons changing and moving and new roommates. I could endure anyone, for it was never longer than a year before I had a chance to opt-out of any given living arrangement.
As you can imagine, my need for cleanliness has not lessened since getting married and having kids. However, babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children tend to reek havoc on my nice, tidy ideals.
And I have lowered my standards, quite a few times, since becoming a mother.
I feel like I’ve now reached the rock-bottom for how low I’m willing to go. Living with these other four humans drives me INSANE. Not a single one of them gives two shits about being even the littlest bit tidy.
Joan and Kate leave a tidal wave of dirty dishes, wrappers, scraps of paper, little bits of broken toys, crumbs, crushed food bits, sticky spills, pee drips, muddy footprints, peeled-off socks, dirty laundry, crushed/torn school projects, discarded napkins, and grime in the wake. Marin is following in their footsteps.
David is guilty in that he doesn’t see any of their messes, and if he does, he doesn’t DO anything about any of it. He helps me clean, sure, but he does the bare minimum- vacuums only the most obvious places, takes out the recycling only when it’s towering near the ceiling, and has never organized a single, solitary aspect of our home in 11 years of co-habitation.
If this were college, I’d clean like a fool and placidly tell myself that next year will be different.
But I can’t do that anymore. I have to live with these people for the unforeseeable future, and the thought of their never ending messes… well, I can only think about it with despair. I love these people deeply and desperately, and yet I cannot stand wading through their junk.
I’ve tried, and am trying, to teach the children- and, as it turns out, the husband- how to clean up after themselves. I don’t “allow” them to throw their garbage around. And yet, they all still do. So, I make them pick it up. But their definition of “picked up” and mine are very different, and no amount of training is helping to improve the situation.
I am simply not compatible with my housemates. What do I do now?
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