25 answers

Kids Messy Bedrooms

OK, I am curious how you moms feel about your children's bedrooms. I have two boys, ages 6 and 12, who have bedrooms that look like a tornado went through. You know what I am talking about....books, clothes, toys all over the floor. I can't even walk through my 12 yr old's room without stepping on something. I feel like I am constantly nagging to clean it up. His preteen arguement to me is that it is his room and if he likes it messy then it shouldn't bother me. I can just close the door and not look at it. Does he have a point?? I am not sure if this is a battle I should be having. I want to instill good values in my children and keeping things neat and orderly is important to me. Not to the point that I am obsessive. My house gets cluttered and messy at times but I clean it. He doesn't see the need to clean his room. There are many times when he can't find something because of the mess and that drives me crazy. Now my younger son is picking up his older brother's habits and he is only 6! What are your views on the neatness of childrens' bedrooms?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

For the teenager, I agree that you should let him have some autonomy in how neat he keeps his room. However, I draw the line and say that you need to be able to at least walk to the bed from the door without falling over something (say it's a fire hazard) and it has to be clean/hygenic. How clean is up to you... does he clean it once a week/every other week/or once a month...vacuum the whole room, dust, and change the sheets.

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I have had this question /battle for years now with my 16 yo. The 14 yo will keep clean, but the 16 yo will not. My first advice is to realize early that you will NOT win the war.

I just go thru on a regular basis and clean it up...hoping that he will someday learn to appreciate a clean room. I also sometimes ask him to gather all his laundry and bring it down. Or bring down his bathroom trash...small tasks. Did you read today's blog about being grateful? I try to remind myself to be grateful that he is a good kid and around to make a mess. Someday soon he will be gone...and that perfect (empty) room will make me sad. :(

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I shut the door. If they can't find something it means they can't have it and have to choose something else. My daughter was horribly messy as a child as has the best house keeping habits as an adult. Who knew that would happen????

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More Answers

Hi, H.,
My view on the kids' rooms is: I expect my children's rooms to be kept neat. It is one of their daily chores. After breakfast, they tidy up their rooms and make their beds. They do not question it, or argue about it. It's one of their chores, and I expect it, so they do it. All of their chores have to be done in the morning, or they don't get to do anything else all day. So they do them.

I have explained that we all live in this house together, and as a family, we work together to keep it neat. It is not spotless, by any means! But at least we keep the floors cleared of toys and clothes and shoes. As a member of this family, we are all responsible to do our share. And they do not get paid for it. I have never believed allowance should be tied to doing chores. Chores are part of one's responsibility as a member of the family. (I do, however, pay them for going to school, which is their "job" for right now, and they get a weekly pay of five dollars; three - 60% - of which they get to keep. The other 40% is broken down and put into the following "accounts" - church, charity, college, short term savings.)

Sorry - I digressed!

If my 12 yo (or my 8 yo, for that matter) ever told me that I should just close the door because it's their room and they like it messy, I would 1) give them "the look", which immediately lets them know they overstepped; and 2) inform them that yes, it IS their room, but it is in OUR house, and we owe it to each other to keep it as neat as we can.

That argument is just not acceptable. You are still the parent. You are running a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy! Expecting your children to keep their rooms clean is not detrimental to their psyche or their development or anything else! It does NOT make you a control freak! It makes you a good mom who is trying to instill good values in her children.

Stick to your guns! You know what's right - that's why you're the mom! : )


4 moms found this helpful

First of all, your son is NOT A GUEST in your house. The house we live in is ALL of our home.

Also, I am SHOCKED by these responses! I asked this same type of question and most of the responses were to let them keep their room the way they want and to just shut the door.

I feel it is the one spot in the house that they have control over and it isn't a battle worth fighting. So much of this time in their life is controlled by a parent, teacher, schedule, coach etc that I don't see a problem letting them have their own space the way they want. I refuse to be a control freak.

I feel sorry for the kids that have moms that feel they don't belong in the home except for their own bragging rights. Shame on some of you Mommas!

3 moms found this helpful

My view is that it's my house and if they actually did clean it properly and put things away every so often, then I'd deal with some clutter. But the reality is that their idea of "cleaning" means all clothes from the floor goes into the hamper which makes work for ME! And most everything else gets stuffed into the closet or under the bed.

Perhaps you can still "work" with your 6 yr old and devise some simple reward system for keeping his room clean. (Also I've found for my kids that 90% of the mess is due to too much stuff in their rooms, lack of storage they can reach well and "old" stuff like out of season clothes/too small clothes/lots of books, etc. Get the clutter out of his room, buy him some new storage and he might be inclined to put everything in it's place.)

As for your pre-teen, maybe he has a point? He wants to have some privacy and boundaries - then why not encourage that...Mommy style! If he wants to deal with his room, clothes and personal affects, tell him you're not helping him - when he's lost something, doing his own laundry, vacuum and dust, etc. Let him get a taste of "adulthood". Let him find his lost library book. Let him dig out that missing soccer cleat. And finally, start HIM on doing his own laundry. Maybe giving him what he's asking for will help him to appreciate all that you do for him. And IF he comes crawling back to you, asking for you to "help" him do his laundry, then he needs to keep his room immaculate, except for maybe his closet.

The bottom line is, I'm in to "giving my kids what they ask for"...and then enjoy watching them squirm when they seen all it really entails. Then I get a compliant child who doesn't want to do all the work, but will happily follow my requests, without any screaming or nagging.

BTW - my kids are young grade schoolers. So for them (like your 6 yr old), I give them time to clean up their rooms. When it gets really bad, they are "stuck" in their rooms (like grounding) for that day, until it's cleaned. If they argue or put up a big stink, I come in with a laundry basket and CLEAN the room - all toys, clothes, etc. on the floor become MINE and they have to earn them back.

They now know that I'm serious when I tell them to clean up. I've explained that this is OUR HOUSE and that no room should be a "pit" of dirty laundry and unable to be vacuumed.

So whenever they want a taste of responsibility, I'm happy to comply...Mommy-style!

3 moms found this helpful

I agree with Ladybug. I go in and clean it on occasion for them. I tell them I'm going to do it a couple weeks before I do. I mention the things that i have noticed they play with and tell them that those are the things I'm keeping. They will say...oh, don't forget my whatever...they want to make sure I don't get rid of them. And then I go in and do it. I think its much easier for them to stay of top of it when there is not that much in there. And I also so this right before the holidays and their bdays (last 4 months of the year) so there is room for the new stuff they get. I by no means is am a clean freak and don't expect my kids to be. But I do expect their dirty clothes to be in the hamper and stuff off the floor and not under the bed. Anything else i'm ok with. =)

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I think kids should learn how to take care of all their things. Just like earning money, taking care of your things teaches kids how to care and value what they have. Cleaning their room is part of that training.

I do encourage my kid to clean up after himself and I don't let my kid's disorganization bother me unless he loses something of mine or makes me late for something b/c he can't find something.

I always wondered if an adult argues with a pre-teen, does the adult ever win? It sort of goes along the same line as "if a tree falls in a forest...".

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Hi H.:

It is your house. He is a guest. He will be moving out and it is still your house.

He doesn't value your property by having it look like a cyclone has hit it.
If he doesn't get in a habit of valuing not only your property but his own, what is he going to be like as a father and husband to his wife and children?

I had a fella staying in my house. He is 60. My room was so beautiful until he moved in. Well, needless to say, he was asked to leave after one week.

This example you shared has many connotations:
1. Respect for your wishes as his Mother.
2. Respect for your property?
3. Respect for his property?
4. Demonstration of his values of cleanliness and ordiliness.
5. Demonstration of his values of you as his mother.
6. Respect for Authority.

Just my thoughts.
All the Best.
Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

For the teenager, I agree that you should let him have some autonomy in how neat he keeps his room. However, I draw the line and say that you need to be able to at least walk to the bed from the door without falling over something (say it's a fire hazard) and it has to be clean/hygenic. How clean is up to you... does he clean it once a week/every other week/or once a month...vacuum the whole room, dust, and change the sheets.

2 moms found this helpful

Things he can't locate? Don't help him locate them. If he needs them for school --let him take the consequences there.

Clothes not in their hamper when dirty? You pick them up and they vanish. He wants that special t-shirt to wear today? Sorry, it was on the floor, so I assumed it was no longer wanted. It's gone. (You of course will have it hidden away to restore once he improves.) This one may not work with your son like it would with my daughter, though....

Anything you step on when you come into his room for a legitimate reason? The stepped-on item is gone. Instantly. Goodbye. He will accuse you of taking his stuff and violating his space. Sorry, but there is no "violation of space" if something is causing a hazard to other members of the household.

In other words, if he expects you to do his laundry the laundry must get into the hamper. If he wants to take over his own laundry, great, teach him how and say "From now on if you go to school reeking because you didn't do it, so be it. Any comments you get are all yours." "If you can't find something in the mess, there will be no assistance locating it, even if it's your textbook to study for a test the next day."

In other words, keep your room as you like, but all the consequences will be on you. It may take ages but maybe after he faces some real issues at school because of it, or loses something he really wants like an electronic game he loves, maybe he'll figure out he needs to deal with it himself.

Alternatively, be sure he has set chores around the house cleaning other areas you all use. Same for your six year old, adjusted for age. If they do those chores willingly and well you could back off on the room except for clothes and stuff that is stepped on.

And if they get allowances, and you don't want to go the "keep it messy but take the consequences" route, you can tie the allowances to the condition of their rooms as well. I would do that in a heartbeat.

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