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on a lighter note - how messy is TOO messy?

(9 Posts)
brdgrl Thu 04-Oct-12 21:37:52

I know a lot of posters are dealing with big issues at the moment. This is a relatively small one. (despite the over-long post!)

My DSCs are 15 and 17. DH and I have taken the view that the kids' rooms are their own business, basically. When we all moved in together and put together 'house rules', I said that I did not want food/dishes left in the rooms; and the rooms could not be a fire hazard.

I have insisted on the rest of the house being kept tidy. The DSCs (and toddler DD) are expected to clear away anything they've left in the comon areas of the house, every evening. We have a jobs rota: the DSCs help with dinner and washing up; they get a generous allowance, part of which is linked to doing their chores. The rest of the housecleaning falls to me and DH; we almost never 'just ask' the DSCs to hoover the front room - they do their assigned chores and that's it, really. DSD will occasionally mow the lawn.

The bedrooms are, therefore, messy to say the least. They never make their beds, clothes are piled up rather than put away in wardrobes and drawers, things are just left on the floor. DSD's isn't a problem, as far as I am concerned, because although it is very untidy, it is not completely overrun, there are seldom dishes or empty food wrappers, and it gets tidied and hoovered when she has a sleepover (a few times a year, I guess). DSS's room, though, is disgusting. About once a week I go in and take out the dirty cups and mugs. (In general, I don't enter the kids' rooms, though.) He leaves sweet packets, crisp packets, coke bottles all over the place. His desk is so covered with trash and papers that he can only use a corner of it, and I think it does affect his ability to focus when he is doing his schoolwork. His clothing is strewn about or in a pile at the bottom of the wardrobe. He has a hard time finding things, and is quite disorganised and loses focus frequently when trying to do any task.

Anyway. I know that everyone says their teenage boys' rooms are a mess, but I admit that I wonder if this is just over the top. Also, even if "it is just normal teenage behaviour", is it normal for us to let it go?

In the past, Dh or I has offered to help him clean, maybe once a year. In reality this means DH and I doing most of the work. DH asked me if I thought we should give his room a clean again - but I think 15 is too old. It was fine at 8 or 9 to be cleaning his room for him... Perspective, please?

purpleroses Thu 04-Oct-12 22:29:58

I strip the beds, and then present them with a neat pile of laundered sheets which they must then put back on the bed. We don't let them take food up to their rooms, really and don't allow dirty plates/cups, etc to be left. Clothing I fortunately don't have to deal with for the DSC as they take it all back to their mum's grin I battle with my own nearly-teen on that one.

Think you need to pick your battles really - so I'd focus on things that affect the rest of the household - crockery, definitely yes, v smelly clothes or bedding, yes, but messy desk and unmade beds, probably not. You should get him to bring the crockery down to you, rather than go hunting around for it.

Helping them clean does work I think - but it needs to be them that are doing most of the work. I usually do something else, whilst helping my very messy DD, so I'm kind of popping in and out and providing bin liners, etc, rather than doing it for her.

brdgrl Thu 04-Oct-12 23:10:46

Thanks, purple. Yes -that's just it - I am trying to pick my battles and I really am mostly not bothered by the mess - although I suppose it is the fact that it has gone so far in DSS's case that winds me up a bit; I end up thinking "we are pretty laid back and don't ask you to do much, so why oh why can't you at least put the crisp packets in the bin???!!!" - and as soon as I think that way, it becomes an irritation, IYSWIM!

I'd love it if we could stop them eating in their rooms, but it is not to be. They are not allowed to eat in the front room, but DSS seems to find it impossible to remember that.

Think I will try the more 'self-directed' way of helping him clean, like you say...it is tough, because the minute you leave the room, he gets distracted, ro starts playing xbox, or texting friends...you can hand him a bin bag and tell him exactly what to do with it, then come back in five minutes and the bag will be sitting on the ground next to him while he's gaming...and then he acts surprised because he forgot. DH deals with it by doing things for him, but that doesn't help at all.

RubyrooUK Thu 04-Oct-12 23:15:07

Oh dear. I think I was your DSS. My mum used to disinfect every mug that had ever been in my room. blush

Good news is that I did grow out of it, especially when I wanted to bring round boys. Suddenly I became very house proud. Perhaps encourage DSS to have a few girls round and I imagine you'll see a vast improvement in his bedroom. (Possibly not advice that parents want to hear. grin)

brdgrl Thu 04-Oct-12 23:26:50

rubyroo, good point! His personal hygiene certainly has made a 180-degree turn since he started being interested in girls...

OK. Invite girls round.

purpleroses Fri 05-Oct-12 09:43:28

Remove gaming devices (or computer mice) for the duration of tidying and give them back when it's tidy. Allow music on instead.

brdgrl Fri 05-Oct-12 19:56:55

ah, but then it's a battle!

theredhen Sat 06-Oct-12 06:48:44

I think, with most things about parenting and wanting to change a particular behaviour, then it is a battle you have to have with the reward being the tidy room one day.

Like so many things with parenting, you have to choose your battles.

My dsd is horrendously messy, dirty cups, clothes, wet towels, make up everywhere, razors left on the floor! confused

Like many things dp promised he would make her keep her room tidy when she moved in, so once a fortnight she shoves everything under the bed and dp feels his work is done. angry

brdgrl Sat 06-Oct-12 12:58:20

ooh, yes - the wet towels. Grrrr.

I think I will try doing a supervised clean every month, and see how that goes over. He always does seem genuinely pleased when the room is clean; he's just not capable of keeping it from total chaos for even a few days.

There are things that bother me more, so I think this one I will probably let go. DD is getting older and into more things, so we've talked about putting a hook on the outside of the door, so that when no one is in the room, she can't go in (worried both about her breaking his things and getting hurt on something).

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