Does this sight look in anyway familiar?

Does it make you want to swear and throw a bloody big tantrum?

Or maybe it inspires a desire to have the world’s biggest rant and rave, lecturing said room owner until your face is blue and your words have entered one of their adolescent ears, echoed through the void, and exited their other?

Major Disclaimer: This is NOT my son's room. I believe that I wouldn't and couldn't stand and take this photo without a can of petrol and a match if it were his permanent habitat! It would be the end of me. And him.

Major Disclaimer: This is NOT my son’s room.
I believe that I wouldn’t and couldn’t stand and take this photo without a can of petrol and a match if it were his permanent habitat! It would be the end of me. And him.

Honestly, any chance of domestic harmony would be shot in the foot if either of my teens regularly allowed their rooms to disintegrate to the extent illustrated above. I’m no advocate for “display home perfect” by any means and let me tell you upfront that I’m not a germ-a-phobic neat freak at ALL  ….. just ask my parents who ARE and they’ll surely and ashamedly hang their heads and quickly let you know that I fall very short of the mark!! BUT if you have a messy teen under your roof does their “right” to maintain their room in whatever level of pigsty is ok with them negate your “right” to determine what is (and isn’t) acceptable in your household?

Nope, I don’t think so.

So, short of starting World War 3 (which may have to be the last resort), how then can you work alongside your teen to maintain a balance between their freedom to manage their own personal living space and your entitlement to not be subjected to having a room in your house look like it’s in a permanent state of trashed?

Captain Obvious may try and tell you that a tidy bedroom comes from habit and that the tidy-room-routine should be instilled from toddlerhood. He’ll nod and say that with sufficient early training, the above disaster zone would have been preventable. Blah, blah, blah Capt’n. With all due respect, I disagree.

In my own parenting experience AND after talking with many frazzled mothers of adolescents (boys and girls) even the tidiest pre-teen can unexpectedly morph into a dirty-clothes-dropping-food-wrapper-tossing teenage terror who insists that 2 years between changing bed sheets is just the way it’s done these days and maybe you need to get with the program, Mum (insert eye-roll here, ok).

This 10 step tidy-up plan can have your teen living in a clean-ish room with minimum fuss or aggro. You may have to do this routine with them once or twice as their cleaning coach and so that they understand your expectations … but from then on they should be more than capable of going it alone.

1. Open the blinds and window and let them put on a pumping tune as loud as need be to motivate them. For this exercise, putting up with their crap music belting out is actually the lesser evil.

2. Grab a garbage bag and all obvious rubbish goes straight in – papers (sort through all of those messy paper piles as you go), food wrappers etc. If any dirty dishes are retrieved (tsk, tsk) then it’s straight to the sink with them.

3. Clothes lying around the place? Sort these into 2 piles – dirty and clean. If in doubt, sniff then assume dirty. Dirty pile needs to be hauled straight to the laundry and if you pass Mum on the way, a kiss on the cheek is obligatory. Clean clothes get folded (neatly) and placed in drawers or hung up.

4. Anything that doesn’t belong in the room now needs to be returned to its rightful owner and/or correct place. Time for the brother’s electric guitar to be returned!

5. Sort out the school bag, hunt for dead lunch and other rubbish before putting all the required books in. Have it well organised and somewhere handy.

6. Shoes need to find their mates and be put where shoes go – bottom of the cupboard is a great place to keep them out of the way.

7. Working across the room, from one side to the other, ensure nothing is remaining on the floor and that everything is now in it’s proper spot.

8. Time to change the sheets and make the bed. Fresh sheets are a little bit of heaven on Earth!

9. Vacuum the floor now that it can be seen … and how about a little squirt of air freshener (not Rexona!)

10 Keep it tidy! It’s easy to spend 5 quick minutes each night before bed to keep it up-to-date … isn’t it?


so much better

This is also NOT my son’s room, though I do live in hope!

How do you go with this issue? Can you close the door and just walk away Do you tidy their rooms for them because you just can’t stand it any longer? What happens at your place?

* I previously published this at

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