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17 yr old DS - hygiene issues...

(37 Posts)
raskolnikov Wed 31-Oct-12 06:46:50

So my DS2 (17) left school in the summer and started a well paid job. He commutes into London every day, works a long day, comes home, vegges out, goes to bed at 11, gets up at 5.45 for a 6.30 train. He wears a smart suit, shoes and shirt every day.

The thing is, his room is an absolute tip. By my estimation he hasn't washed one item of clothing in about 6 weeks. We are at absolute loggerheads re money (contribution to housekeeping - NIL), chores - nil, tidying up - nil. All lifts have stopped, I've told him to buy his own food so he's not eating at home now. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. He texted me a few days ago saying he'd run out of money and could I lend him £20 til payday. I wrote back a long list of what I've done to help him and how he's done nothing in return and said no.

I'm a single parent with DS1 at uni and DD 13 at home. He goes out all weekend with his gf to mates' houses and just pops back to change clothes. He doesn't shower very often and so he smells. The last time I ventured into his room (about 3 weeks ago) I put all the clothes in a pile on the floor, put rubbish in a bag by the door and hoovered around everything. The rubbish bag is still there.

His argument re housekeeping is that since his Dad pays CS til he's 18, he doesn't need to pay anything. He's 18 in January. His Dad has little to do with our everyday life but sees the kids most weekends. He's currently away on his honeymoon.

He's a sweetheart but I could strangle him. I'm amazed his gf will go anywhere near him tbh. She hasn't stayed over for a while but I've decided that's stopping too now.

Sorry its long, i'm at my limit. Dont want to throw him out because I had 'issues' with DS1 at the same age and he spent a year at his Dad's - it was such a difficult time for all of us and altho' things are ok with DS1 now, it was awful. Surely there has to be a better way. I'm in tears writing this cos I feel so down about it. I got up at 5.30 to see him and make him coffee and wanted to say something but I couldn't face him stamping out again.

soaccidentprone Mon 05-Nov-12 18:03:55

Well done -smile It's s much more pleasant atmosphere at home when you can agree about certain things. I think sometimes you have to decide what is worth 'nagging' about, and what isn't worth making an issue. You have to choose your battles. Keep up the good work grin

And in answer to LTL - when it gets to the stage that the bedroom door can barely be opened and pots get broken 'cos they are left on the floor and then other 'stuff' put on top, then IMO something needs to be done and if that takes me going in and sorting it, then that's what it takes. DS1 usually arrives within 1/2 of me texting and takes over, though I do have to micro-manage him a bit as he genuinely doesn't seem to notice the mucky mugs on the windowsill etc.

But most teenage boys can be lovely in their own way, but sometimes it's hard to see that under everything else!

raskolnikov Mon 05-Nov-12 09:46:42

I think that should be DS2's nickname wink - when did Halloween celebrations last 4/5 days confused.

I don't want to be too tough on him - he's a sweetie, but he's as stubborn as his mum, so things can easily go pear-shaped! Hooray - we now have clean shirts and socks - life can go on! grin

Homebird8 Mon 05-Nov-12 06:49:06

I quite like being homebrew!

Glad you are working things out together :0)

raskolnikov Mon 05-Nov-12 00:46:47

His dad got him the job at his company, so getting the job was relatively easy but he's been doing those hours since July, so credit to him there. He gets his fares paid and over £1k/m net. All he pays for is his lunch.

Result: I had a quick word before he went out this afternoon and said I'd help with the washing if he brought it downstairs. He's put a load on this evening so he'll be clean and sparkly in the morning - he'll be like a new boy!! Fingers crossed we can keep it going.

LittleFrieda Sun 04-Nov-12 21:59:07

I'm in the softy camp: he sounds a good egg, if a little whiffy. grin Respect to your son for being a grafter: it's not easy to get up early and travel in ad out for work, day in, day out. He sounds as though he deserves your support. With a sensible coversation about a financial contribution from him in due course.

How much does he earn, and how much does he spend on travel?

mathanxiety Sun 04-Nov-12 21:32:49

Sit him down and ask him if there is any system he can think of that wold make things run more smoothly. Approach it from the pov of solving a problem, not criticism of what has gone before. Teen boys like to 'fix' things that are not working properly. They are not interested in the emotional baggage that goes along with problems -- they do not want to hear where they are going wrong or how you feel about it all.

Tell him he will not impress his colleagues or his manager if he doesn't wash or wear clean clothes and ask him how he will tackle that particular problem. This is the basic problem to pose to him.

Fixing it may involve getting a laundry basket, enough shirts to last a week with a clean one every day and taking time on the weekend to wash, dry and iron them, or it may mean buying non-iron style shirts. He may need a specific time to do his wash before his weekend entertainment begins.

Ask him how he will tackle the problem of sleeping on smelly bedding, with the ultimate aim of getting ahead at work in mind.

Remind him that putting clean clothes in a dirty room will cancel out the cleaning effort.

Ask him how he will tackle the problem of showing up for work unshowered, what it would take to have a shower in the morning -- how much earlier he would need to set his clock to fit one in, whether the bathroom is cold or there isn't enough hot water and what can be done to ensure he washes..

If the solution is that you need to lend a hand with laundry and clearing up his room then he needs to tell you what he is going to do to help you out, how much he will pay you for doing that when the CS money stops, bearing in mind that if he was living on his own he would have a LL breathing down his neck about vermin etc in rented accommodation.

Rascalls3 Sun 04-Nov-12 18:20:19

I completely agree with silver73. I think you need to take responsibility for his laundry/room/meals at the moment. I'm sure there can't be many 17 year old boys who are expected to do all of that on top of such long working hours.
Concentrate only, on making sure he takes a daily shower and get your relationship with him back on track. Good luck.

frostythesnowlady Sun 04-Nov-12 15:44:36

My DS is 20 and has a job - works hard, travels a long way. As soon as he got it he was told we agreed he'd pay me money each month for his keep via a standing order.

He used to be quite smelly poor with his personal hygiene but after a spot of work experience in his last year at school suddenly discovered showering and teeth brushing.

I cook his meals, keep his room free of vermin tidyish and wash his clothes. If i didn't he'd live quite happily with the mess. If I couldn't get him to tidy his room etc when he was younger, I'm not going to get anywhere now. I've decided not to mske an issue of it. DS is doing well in life and we're able to live together mostly happily.

raskolnikov Sun 04-Nov-12 09:33:30

confused homebird ... what am I thinking?? grin

raskolnikov Sun 04-Nov-12 09:32:21

Thank you for the flowers and tea homebrew - lovely! smile

raskolnikov Sun 04-Nov-12 09:31:20

Thank you all for your helpful comments - I do appreciate that he's working long hours and that its all very new to him. We have made some progress over the last couple of days - he paid me back some money he owed me that I wasn't expecting to get and has asked me to save money in an account for him too. This is all a step in the right direction.

I'm going to have a chat with him today about his room and laundry etc, try to do things amicably - I do feel that its a battle of wills much of the time, but he can't be wanting to sleep in a messy room and wear dirty clothes can he? Well, maybe he can live with the untidyness, but not the smell etc.

Homebird8 Sun 04-Nov-12 06:03:48

I don't think this is a money issue really is it? Beyond the scummy teenage hygiene issues it seems to me to be more about working together as a household.

Personally, I prefer my washing machine loads to be full loads so we don't waste power and water so I ask my sons to put their dirty laundry in a basket so that I can add it to the washing that I am happy to do. It's their responsibility to make sure it's sorted and ready for me, and to put away their clean washing appropriately when it's done. However, in return for my doing their washing I expect other tasks around the home to be volunteered for when they spot them (like emptying the dishwasher if it's clean and full, clearing the table at the end of a meal, vacuuming a floor if it could do with it). Sometimes I might point something like this out, sometimes they just notice and do it.

We are a household, not a parent servant / entitled child establishment. It's hard for everyone when we're tired, or when something in life changes like a new job or a new school. We take account of that and make sure over time that everyone feels valued and nobody too put upon.

I think it's you feeling undervalued and perhaps 'bought' in your DS's eyes by his father's money which is the biggest thing. A chat at the weekend (when there's a bit more time than early on a work morning) over a coffee and some yummy cake where you both have the opportunity to express your feelings lovingly might help. Sending you some thanks to brighten your day and a couple of brew brew so start your finding a new pathway together.

Oh, and I would mention the BO. Perhaps he's not aware of it. DH had to deal with this issue with one of his team a few times and found it difficult. Much easier for a loving mum.

silver73 Sun 04-Nov-12 03:54:23

I'm with LittleJo too. He is only 17 and I would talk to him about personal hygiene I would hate to think of people in an office talking about my son behind his back. I also think he must be exhausted. Could you agree a transition stage whereby he agrees to shower every day and you do his laundry and then move onto him doing his room and having a shower everyday. Maybe in January when he starts to contribute you can agree to continue doing his washing? He has done very well to get a good job in this climate but I do think his personal hygiene issues could cause a problem with his job at some point.

My son is 17 too and not working as such as he is doing A levels but I still do his washing and room as I don't think he could cope with anything more at the moment.

LongTimeLurking Sat 03-Nov-12 21:46:18

When his room gets too bad I send him a text telling him I am about to go in and tidy his room. This is enough to bring him home ASAP as I might move his 'stuff'. he has also complained it's an invasion of his privacy, but I told him if he kept it tidy I wouldn't need to go in there."

But surely it is an invasion of privacy. Unless his room is so filthy it is posing a health hazard to the rest of the house/family why do you need to go in there at all? Surely at 17 he is old enough to choose to sleep in a messy room if he so wishes...

I agree with the rest of the post though, sounds like he needs some budgeting lessons and a very blunt discussion about personal hygiene - if your own mother/family can't tell you that you smell then who else can!

Also, if you are getting £250 CS and your son is working and buying his own food/clothes and so on, he does kind of have a point about the housekeeping. I would be tempted to say to him once he turns 18 and the CS stops he has to contribute the £250 himself.

soaccidentprone Sat 03-Nov-12 17:52:46

DS1 (17) is a little like this - but only on the slobby room front. the rest of time he does his own washing (he has his own washing liquid as he doesn't like the stuff we use. He also cooks for himself and his g/f most nights (they usually buy their own food).

When his room gets too bad I send him a text telling him I am about to go in and tidy his room. This is enough to bring him home ASAP as I might move his 'stuff'. he has also complained it's an invasion of his privacy, but I told him if he kept it tidy I wouldn't need to go in there.

Your ds is probably struggling with the long days and also the level of maturity expected of him, especially if he is earning a reasonable amount but still running out of money before the the next pay day. Also if he is running out of money so quickly how will he manage when he has to make a financial contribution to you?

I think you need the carrot and stick approach, and there needs to be a level of compromise on both parts. Maybe you could do his washing (and show him how to use the washing machine), but he needs to hang it up and iron it - if necessary (can he iron?) and take out his bag of rubbish?

Maybe you could tell him that you need to talk sensibly and maturely and ask him when would be a good time to do this? Explain that you a trying to prepare him for when he leaves home and give him the life skills he will need to survive.

You need to help him draw up a financial plan ie income and expenditure - travel pass, lunch, fags etc. I know it is easy to go a bit mad with cash when you first start earning and you don't have rent and utility bills to pay etc and this is obviously something he is struggling with. Buy him some nice 'smellies' just for him and maybe some other bits and bobs that show you do love and care about him, it's just his behaviour you aren't happy with.

Or maybe just tell him he smells like a tramp (no offence to homeless people intended) and that if he needs to go for a shower grin

Good luck

ImperialBlether Sat 03-Nov-12 17:20:24

The £250 is what the OP thinks her son is thinking of paying.

Any contribution should be agreed, not decided by your son, OP!

Fairylea Sat 03-Nov-12 15:34:27

I would be really really blunt with the smelling. I'd just say look you smell awful. Have a shower. Please.

I think with teens sometimes you need to be blunt.

Id also show him how to do the laundry again and explain to him that if he doesn't start making some effort he will lose both his job and his girlfriend.

Tell him you expect some contribution to the food bill and you will start cooking / buying food for him again providing he makes some financial contribution. Leave a shopping list out that he can add sensible things to. Make it clear he can have some treats but not all junk.

SecretSquirrels Sat 03-Nov-12 15:24:13

I'm with the softies as well. He's only 17 and he's done well in the current climate to get a reasonable sounding job. I would do what I could to support him in his new job. I also think if his dad is giving you £250 a month for him it's enough for now.

Also if his own mother cannot tell him he smells then maybe no-one else will?

ImperialBlether Sat 03-Nov-12 13:29:13

I agree with LittleJo.

I would wash his clothes - I couldn't bear to think of people noticing he smells. He must be exhausted - I know that's no excuse but it's a big change in his life, to get up so early, travel to work, then have a day's work etc.

You could say, "If you want to give me some money, I'll buy in some meals for you" rather than "You should give me rent."

Of course he should be paying rent but I think he's thinking his dad is paying his share for him now.

littlejo67 Wed 31-Oct-12 09:21:57

Maybe I am on my own on this one and I will get slated but here goes-
He is only 17, he is working and travelling, he must be tired. He has a social life at weekends- good for him.
I think he should be contributing financially a little but I also think it would be nice if his mum was still engaging with him and helping him with his washing. This is a huge transition for him. His mum hoovering his room occasionally is a loving supportive thing to do, not something to be resentful about. If he was my son I would be so proud of him and see the positives. I would ask for a contribution but in return I would help with his washing and make sure there is food in the cupboard and freezer for him. I would even cook him the odd meal. He is 17 not yet an adult and not a child. Support is what he needs now. I know this is in the remit of normal teenage behaviour but just a thought - may be if he felt valued and not judged he would value himself more.

raskolnikov Wed 31-Oct-12 07:27:51

The bedroom I can put up with, the hygiene bothers me because its unhealthy (he smokes btw) and the idea that he might cook or tidy up elsewhere is beyond a dream (shakes her head in disbelief that a teenaged boy might actually do such a thing). The gf watches with interest - in her house everyone mucks in, even to the extent of cooking separate evening meals for themselves (household of 6 teens and adult siblings).

Yes he does work in an office, attends meetings and has an induction day today.

TanteRose Wed 31-Oct-12 07:20:14

again, is the "doing nothing" in relation to HIS hygiene/room etc.?

or do you want him to contribute to the household by, say, making dinner once or twice a week, or hoovering the living room/cleaning the bathroom?

if so (and the above are quite reasonable in and of themselves for someone who is living at home...) then you will need to get stricter.

or you could just STOP ENGAGING already and leave him to it - he may well change over the next few months. He is still probably feeling "entitled" to be a slob now he is earning his own money, but when his girlfriend leaves him coz he smells, then he might wake up grin

brightermornings Wed 31-Oct-12 07:18:09

Does he work in an office? I would think if the smell gets really bad he will be pulled to one side and someone will have a quiet word with him.
As for his room just ignore. My ds has just turned 18. I have not entered his room to clean for 2 years. It gets messy but he will tidy up I throw clean bedding in every couple of weeks.
Your ds is still a teen and just because he's working he thinks he's all grown up but he's not quite there yet.

raskolnikov Wed 31-Oct-12 07:17:53

Thief - thank you. CS is high and he's already said he won't pay that much, he's thinking around £250 AFAIAA.

ToothbrushThief Wed 31-Oct-12 07:14:22

The room: let it go. Don't enter it. Definitely don't clean it

Cost of living: personally I'd leave that argument until after CS finishes. In fact why not agree to do so and then DS pays the same from his wages?

Smelling: if he was within reach of my nose I'd say something but otherwise ...no

This sounds more about you feeling unappreciated (I am a mother of a teen....I get this) and fear of him not growing up to be a 'nice young man'

He's a teen. They all go through a vile stage. Back off but don't be a doormat. He will return one day as a nice man if you do this.

Pester, nag and clean up after him and he will stay vile and abuse you

Oh...and don't lend him money

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