Thursday, July 3, 2014

How To Get A Teenager To Clean Their Room (Or Not)

Ah, to be a 16 year old boy.  My son dislikes cleaning his room, and in fact seems to prefer to live amidst a state of constant chaos.

Hmmm......how can he find anything in here?
When I was young, I was really messy and my mother, who lived by the rule that "Cleanliness is next to godliness" used to do crazy, periodic room cleanings where she'd upend everything in my room and throw it all in a big pile on the floor and then leave me to restore order.  She'd literally take all my dresser drawers out and dump them in a big pile in the middle of my room (yes -- reminiscent of Joan Crawford in "Mommy Dearest").

It used to completely freak me out and was extremely overwhelming and has undoubtedly contributed in some part to the many years of therapy that I've gone through so far in my life.

When I had kids of my own I resolved not to foist such lunacy on them, and have been (I believe) extremely generous and non-judgemental about how they keep their rooms.  I've decided that I'm more interested in them getting good grades and being kind, generous and caring people than clean freaks.

But every other Monday my cleaning lady comes and so I have a firm rule that whatever is on the floor of their rooms must be removed and put in either the laundry room, the recycling bin (note the many water bottles) or in the garbage bin on every other Sunday night before Maricel comes to restore order to our home.  This way she can actually get in there to vacuum the floor.

Recently I went into my son's room and found this note taped to his book shelf.

This note is strategically taped to his book case, wonder where in the world he found this?
After I snort laughed out loud for a while, I gotta' say I was kind of impressed that he took the time and effort to find this little scientific discourse, print it out and tape it up there without telling me, assuming that the next time I went in his room to straighten it out, I'd see it (which of course is exactly what happened).

And, I was more than a little impressed by the fact that he knows what the word "entropy" means.  I mean, I was an English major and all, so the fact that he knows what entropy means makes me a lot happier than a clean room ever would.

So I guess I'll just leave his disordered room to it's entropic state.

What about you guys, are your kids as messy as my son?  Do you just give in to it, or do you have firm rules about how they keep their rooms?

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18 comments:

  1. What a great note and that has to be one great kid! I'm guessing he is creative:)
    I never sweated over their rooms, just requested any leftover food and trash be removed once a week or so.
    My kids grew up and all have orderly homes except for their kid's rooms.

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    1. Hi Doreen - Yes, in fact, he is very creative :) Nice to know I'm not the only one who hasn't decided to fall on a sword over this one.

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  2. It was more like "or not" for my mother!

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  3. I like his style, Claudia. Kids can talk back when they use words like "entropy" and typed notes. As for getting kids to clean their rooms: it's my biggest parenting failure (along with the related issue, of course, the LAUNDRY.) Wish it didn't bug me so much. But the ship has sailed, and now it's someone else's problem.

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    1. Yes, the whole laundry thing is a whole other story. I actually plan to teach my daughter how to do her own laundry this very weekend!

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  4. Oh my word! That is one fantastic son you have there!! Yes, that he took the time to find that, print that and tape that in his room shows how much he cares! I knew where everything was in my room, especially when it was a mess! My room was way out of the way and nobody could see it if they visited our house, so I didn't have to keep it clean. My mom just did not like clothes on the floor....so my pile was on my desk chair! haha

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    1. I plan on just keeping his door closed for the next 2 years until he goes off to college :)

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  5. Very funny Claudia. I think my 15 year old son is a bit more subtle about his messiness. To the naked eye, his room looks pretty straightened but then when you open a closet or draw...look out!

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    1. I guess he figures what's out of sight is out of mind!

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  6. I love this post because it is soooo relatable to me. In fact, I burst out laughing at the picture because I swear it's a replica of the current state of my 18 yr. old son's room. And yes---he claims it's NOT unhealthy and that it's just his "style" of living….

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    1. Oh I love that whole "It's just my style" thing that 18 year olds use on us as they become so grown up! Too funny.

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  7. As the mother of two teen boys, this cracked me up! I love your son - that note is pure genius. I will not however be sharing this with my kids - they don't need any more excuses :)

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    1. I know, I really thought that note was a riot, don't know where in the world he found it. I think he must have known I would get a chuckle out of it :)

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  8. My sons take after my husband and are as messy as can be. When they were kids I straightened their rooms before the cleaning person or service arrived. But when my younger soon was home summers from college and moved back home after college, his door stays shut it his room does not get cleaned, a decision made by mutual consent. It would take longer for him to straighten it up than for her to clean it.

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    1. My husband is messy too, it's very annoying when an adult is like that (which is why I feel so badly when my kids are still this way - I feel like I'm somehow recreating my messy husband)! But, I like your idea of just keeping the door shut. I think I'm going to just keep it shut for the next 2 years until he's off to college!

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  9. dear Claudia, I find your son's note both hilarious and brilliant- you have quite the bright young fellow there! now, since the subject of laundry has come up, here's a little story about how I finally got my daughter to stop slinging every article of clothing every which way and NEVER once following the rules for assigned laundry days - which we instituted to allow each family member to have a day of their choice to get the chore done.

    at first, she got the dirty clothes down to the laundry room - big step, I was encouraged. then she would proceed to wash one batch, stick it in the dryer, then start the second bash in the washing machine. but the next day, my turn, there were clothes still left in both machines! argh!!! typically, she was off somewhere - so I had to yank the clothes from the dryer, replacing the wet clothes from the washer when the first batch was dry. then reiterate the rules, point out the obvious back-ups and extra work for me. this went on and on in a varied set of scenarios until I thought I would rip my hair out. she seemed indifferent, or at best, pleaded, I'm sorry, I forgot. but nothing changed - how to get through to her??!!

    one day I walked into her room - there must have been most of the clothes in her entire closet and dresser drawers, scattered higgley-piggley everywhere - her day to do laundry and nothing even started - it was 5 pm, I was tired, and I was royally pissed.

    here's what I did. first, I calmed down. then I gathered every single article of clothing, and proceeded to fold each one very neatly, making piles of underwear, outerwear, etc. I placed the sorted piles in 2 huge laundry baskets, then took them into the laundry room. my daughter appeared a little trepidacous, knowing full well she blew it AGAIN, and that it was MY laundry day. but when she saw those baskets of her tidily folded things, she was thrilled, came to me and hugged me and thanked me for getting her job done. little did she know...about 10 days later (a period of time she STILL had not been keeping up with the laundry!), I sat her down: "do you remember those 2 big baskets of clothes? well, guess what? they were the ones strewn all over your room. so you know what I did? I folded them all, and you thought I'd done you a huge favor. but not so. I simply folded them, put them in the baskets, but I DID NOT WASH them." this elicited a very shocked facial expression and a big "E-E-E-E-W-W-W-W!" and a pretty unabashed hissy fit as she realized she had been wearing DIRTY clothes! in actuality, which I did not mention at the time, very few items of clothing were dirty - many were things she tried on, then slung onto the floor. or ones she only wore a few hours and could have hung up or put away and worn again just fine. but in her teen-age mind, once donned, it's dirty. to say I made an impression on her is an understatement. I reviewed AGAIN the schedule and told her in no uncertain terms I hoped I would not have to ever again resort to such a drastic measure - but if so, I had a back-up plan that I really hoped I'd never have to act on. never told her what it was. happily, she finally got the message and even though there was a heighted show of "attitude" for a few days, laundry proceeded in a timely fashion. every so often, she brings it up and asks me how I thought of that idea. I tell her the same way she will someday if her 2 little daughters present her with such a desperate frustration; she says now it was something she needed to learn, something about family harmony and cooperation and respect for others and their time. and strangely enough, the thing she loves, LOVES doing in her own home is - you guessed it - the LAUNDRY!

    so that's my story- I hope you enjoyed it!

    much love,

    Karen xoxo

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    1. Oh Karen, you have me roaring! That is adorable, such a funny story! I'm not quite sure that my son would really care, to be honest, but it's worth a try :) Thanks, you made my day. Hugs.

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