Messy Rooms?am I the Only One

Updated on May 20, 2010
A.C. asks from Pleasanton, CA
27 answers

hello well my daughter has a really and i mean REALLY messy room, soda cans everywhere, sheets crumpled, and laundry and toys EVERY WHERE so am i just a bad mother or is this normal she is 11 and her room if i clean it stays that way for about 5 weeks then goes back but this is the same ever since she was about 6 can u help please i need answers thanks

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thank you i will try all these things and im glad to know im normal thnaks any other suggestions are ok but i got it thanks

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answers from Columbus on

I don't have answers, but I have a kid with a room that should be condemed! My only advice, a snow shovel, and a big trash first I thought it would only be one time I would use it, but sadly, I go in and she looses everyhing once in a while. For the rest of the time, I shut the door.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Normal, yes. Acceptable, maybe. I can deal with mess, but soda cans? That can attract bugs.
She is old enough to clean her own room, and to keep it clean. No clean room? No TV. No clean room, no going somewhere. No clean room, no allowance. If you want her to keep her room clean, make her do it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You are definitely not alone! My 8 year old granddaughter develops an emotional attachment to every single piece of paper she's given at school! She never wants to throw ANYTHNG away but she doesn't want to put it away either! I wait until she's gone and then I go in and throw the unnecessary paper away. She doesn't miss it when it's gone, but she won't throw it away herself. I think she's a junior hoarder! Anyway, like with you, if I clean the room it stays clean for a while but eventually makes it way to messy again. I don't allow eating or drinking in the bedroom, so there's no soda cans, or dishes or food garbage but it's messy. I do make her clean it really good every couple of weeks - just send her in there and she can't come out until it's done and passes my inspection. Sometimes it takes her quite a while because she'll get side-tracked and start playing with something, but that's okay. doesn't matter how long she's in there and i don't nag at her to keep working. If she wants to take time to do something else, okay, but she doesn't come out until the room is clean. Now it's not always done the way I would do it, but it's done well enough to pass inspection.

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answers from Washington DC on

First - they are all messy.
Second - you need to have the no food in the room rule. That will cure the soda can issue.
Third - close the door. There are so many other issues to deal with that something has to give. The kids need a place that's just theirs.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

My son thinks I'm the garbage woman. Sounds like your daughter does too! I can't stand the dirty, cluttered room, especially the garbage. Think bugs... YUCK! What I started to motivate my son is no electronics until his room is picked up every evening. It's a whole lot easier to pick up 3 or 4 things at a time then wait until it's a disaster. I would have her help you so she knows where things need to go. Help her get rid of the stuff she doesn't use or need. Maybe she needs the organizational tools: shelves, storage containers, etc., Then every afternoon she takes 5-10 minutes to pick up and once a week she vacuums. I can't even force myself to do it more than once a week, so I don't expect my son to vacuum more than once a week.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

all i have to say is you are not alone! I was extremely messy as a child,teen, and as a young adult. I have gotten as i get older but i still struggle with it. and i see it coming through my son also. my mother tried to teach me about having a clean room but she finally figure out that i was just messy! I was messy but not trifling, some people are just messy they want to be neater but it's just not them. so if you can try to understand that about your daughter you may not get to frustrated about it. lol good luck! p.s. and you are not a bad mother at all!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

My house is bad, and I'm 26! :) Thankfully it is mostly just toys, books, boxes (the kids play with empty boxes so it looks awful but they have fun), and pillows and cushions they are playing with on the floor. However, I had a very messy room as a kid, and that was not that long ago.

I struggled to be neat--it did not (and still doesn't) come naturally. Some children and adults are just naturally neat and clean. I usually had better things to do (like reading or playing outside) and at the end of the day, my room was not a priority. I also cleaned house and was starting to mow the lawn by that age, so I was doing a lot of work and again, my room just was not a priority.

It is reasonable to talk to your daughter about neatness in her room. It is as much for her health and safety as your sanity. You could set out some ground rules for her room (she lives in it--it is not going to be perfect), talk to her about what would make it easier (like rearranging, buying some organizers, helping her sort), and make a project of it with her. If there is something that would make her want her room to look nicer, use that as incentive.

My bedroom got redone when I was a teenager (it had never been done--it was in an old farmhouse), and having my walls painted, a new light fixture, my bookshelves built in (a shelf above the windows or near the top of one wall can be pretty, too) made me want it to look nice. I also struck a deal with my mom (again, I was a little older at this time) so that I could have candles in my room but only if I was keeping it perfectly clean. I loved the smell and wanted to be able to light them, so I kept it pretty neat and enjoyed seeing it clean. Take pictures when you have it arranged because she might really not "see" it the way you do.

Anyway, you are not a bad mother because your child's room is messy. Everyone's housekeeping standards are different and children have competely different priorities. I hated having a messy room as a kid, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend the time cleaning, or if I did I got so distracted putting a book away I'd sit down and read it. I actually liked it when my mom came in on a Saturday and sat down and talked me through it. She would tell to clean up the books, for example, then the laundry, etc. I was so distractable but she would keep me from realizing I'd spent an hour standing somewhere reading a book. Set reasonable standards and talk to your daughter about how to get that done. If cleaning is too boring, I set a timer sometimes or turn on a fun song and make myself focus on doing as much as possible in that time. She might never be perfectly clean and tidy, but you can help her be a bit better.

I also wanted to say that if she is keeping her room clean for five weeks straight, that is better than I can do with my house. :) The soda cans would be a problem for me--it would help to make a no snacking in the bedrooms/only drinking water rule. This also helps in general if snacking is designated to the kitchen and dining areas. I also wanted to say that if your daughter's habits are kept in her room, relax a bit more. If it is not creeping down the stairs and taking over your house, you're doing pretty good. I got better in college because I had only ONE room to clean instead of a whole house, and I cleaned and mopped it obsessively. My roommates were another story... :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I used to have a rule that their rooms must be clean on either Saturday or Sunday, their choice, but they had to show me a clean room on one of those days each week. If they chose to let it go to the dogs during the week, they had a lot more work on the weekend to make it presentable. Or, they could choose to keep it tidy during the week and only have a little work on the weekend. This worked wonderfully for my older one. She realized pretty fast that keeping it tidy was easier than tackling a huge mess on the weekends. Now I rarely see her room messy.
Now my younger one (13yrs) is a whole other thing. Her room could go from perfectly clean to health hazard in one day! I now check her room daily when she heads off to bed. It doesn't have to be perfect, but all dirty clothes/towels etc. must be in the hamper, the floor must be fully visible, no books, toys, jackets, etc. strewn about, any trash in the bin, and her bathroom counter must be tidied up. Everyday. She didn't like it much at first, but now she is much happier that weekend cleaning is so quick and not so overwhelming.
Some kids just need more assistance than others in different areas of their lives.
In our house food and drinks are limited to the kitchen and dining room. That goes for adults too. That helps to eliminate potential science experiments under the beds. :)

Good luck! I hope a daily routine will help you as much as it has helped us.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

She manages to keep her room clean for FIVE WEEKS?? Wow, that is amazing for an 11 year old!!! You must be doing something right!!! lol
I am the mother of 3 grown daughters, and I must admit that I am not the neatest person in the maybe that colored the way I dealt with things when they were growing up.
The only thing that I can see here that is a real issue would be the soda cans ( and presumably other food leftovers) which will attract bugs and cause not so pleasant smells. You might need to limit food and drink to the kitchen/living room areas of the house if she can't keep a handle on that part of things.
Other than's HER room...and it does have a door which can be closed to keep it from spilling out into the hallway!!! I wouldn't go in there and clean for her, no way!! That is just perpetuating the problem. When she runs out of the clothes, she is going to want to gather them up and get them into the laundry basket. ( And I would soon be teaching her how to run the washing machine and dryer, so that you aren't the one dealing with that sudden influx of dirty clothes!!) I would go in there and see if it is set up so that it is reasonably easy for her to keep things organized and clean. Does she have enough room in her closet for her clothes, or do you need to weed out the things she has outgrown or the things that are out of season and do something else with them? Does she have shelving and storage for her toys and other possessions that makes it relatively easy to keep things straight? Sit down with her and have a CALM talk about why you are concerned about the way she is keeping her room. But this isn't just about her room, you are also concerned that she learns to accept responsibility, take pride in her surroundings, take care of her possessions, etc etc. Maybe the two of you could work together to get her room back into shape, and then help her come up with ideas of how to keep it that way. Or maybe you could have a "work day" once or twice a month and all of the family work together on things that need to be accomplished in the house!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

The rule in my house is that having food and beverages in any room is a privilege. If you don't take the left overs, including soda cans and dishes, out to the kitchen before going to bed then you lose the privilege.

I suggest that you help her set up a system and a schedule. Work with her, letting her make choices. Be sure she has a specific place to put dirty clothes and toys. Does she have shelves and/or bins for toys? If it's important to you that she make her bed then make that a requirement. Decide together what has to be done and how often. Have her put your agreement in writing and post it somewhere that she'll be able to easily see it. You could also make a chart so that she checks off each chore as she does it. Plan a consequence if her chores aren't completed. Ask her what she thinks is a reasonable consequence.

When you include her in the plans she is more apt to cooperate because she then has part ownership in the plan. Think about what you want before you get together with her to plan. Then be willing to compromise and be open to her ideas too. She may want to do more than you had in mind.

You are not a bad mother but a mother who hasn't found a way that works. You asked for ideas. That's the mark of a good mother.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My kids were always messy too, but I did not allow food in their rooms. We also did a cleaning every Saturday and they helped. This way the mess does not get out of control. When you let it go for long periods of time the accumulation is very overwhelming for them. It is almost like climbing Mt. Everest. LOL!!! So if the mess stays somewhat under control it will not take as long to clean it up, therefore not as much resistance. I would help her this time with a big clean-up and get it to where it needs to be and then every Saturday morning do a clean-up. If she does not do it then there should be consequences. No friends, no phone, etc. It works for us.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It is something you have to keep up with DAILY. My 9 year old (10 in August) is a little pig. There is NO nice way to say it. This child will sneak food in her room when she knows it's against the rules. She plays with things and just drops them everywhere. I can go in there and help her clean it, barking out orders for her to pick up this, take this there, and in about 5-20 minutes we can have it clean again. We do this sometimes 3 times per day! A few hours later it's a mess again. She is a homeschooler and we do have a daycare. So she studies in there and she entertains children in there. That's why I am willing to help. But it just DOESN'T get through! She'll do well maybe for a day or half a day. This kid doesn't care about filth.

Sadly, she comes by it totally naturally. My mothers a pig, my husbands a pig, and my 3 grown daughters are not so bad all the time. They can and will clean it up at times. But they let things get way out of control before they do. I am the neat freak in our home. I have to settle for keeping the kitchen, bathroom, and living room very clean at all times and letting them each have their rooms like they want them with the exception of the youngest. I only make her keep it clean because of the daycare. My mother has to make space for daycare kids when in her room. It's horrible. The kids don't mind and she stays with them every minute if someone is in there. But it's hopeless. I can't change her at 65. I swear if you went into my mothers room or the whole apartment that we have upstairs my husband and youngest share, you'd be shocked to the core.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You are NOT a bad mom. Your 11 yr old sounds normal, she just needs a wee bit of guidance.

I also have the "no food in rooms" rule along with "water only - no soda" rule. I also require a clear path to vacuum. :D The kids know this and are okay about picking their things up off the floor. And since I have a hip problem, I can get really hurt if I step on something that shouldn't be on the floor. I do emphasize this!

I would probably have her set aside 10 minutes a day to neaten up or pick up trash in her room, but I wouldn't make it a huge deal.

I think kids do need their own space and if they can live with the mess, so can I. What I can't abide by is garbage strewn about. Garbage goes in the garbage can. I don't want bugs in their room and neither do they!

We recently redid the room two of my girls share (paint, flooring, new beds, closet organizer). We're still waiting for their loft beds to be delivered, but I don't think I've ever seen them keep their room so tidy. We'll see how long that lasts -hah!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hi A., The answer is NO. You are not the only one. I have 3 grown children now, but at teenagers they were slobs. They didn't get this behavior from me. I've was raised to make your bed as soon as you got out of it in the morning....
I used to get upset whenever I looked in their rooms. I got tired and angry of constantly telling them to pick up their rooms. Then one day I decided I wasn't going to stress over it anymore. I simply kept their doors closed. Out of sight - out of mind. This may not work for everyone, but it worked for me. After a few years they finally came around and straightened up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Hi A., my daughter is the same way, she has two older brothers who manage to keep their rooms reasonably clean. She just turned 13. She also tries to spread out all over the house, pile of stuff here, pile of stuff there....I go back and forth between being disgusted when i go in there (SOMETHING has to be done!), to well if she wants to be a pig, not much I can do about it at this point. She is an excellent student, and outstanding athlete and a general all around pleasure a parent I'm not a real stickler for a spotless house, but as a person I could NEVER live the way she does. I can no longer do it for her since she has little things everywhere that to me are just garbage but if I throw them away, she'll be looking for them, you know? There is a rule that if she wants a sleep over she'll have to do some work on her room, which she does, basically clears a path from the door to the bathroom. She has many friends and many sleepovers, awful as it sounds I try to instill SHAME in her that her friends will be shocked to see what a slob she is....but it never seems to bother her friends, sigh.........since my boys got progressively more concerned with the cleanliness of their space as they got older, I'm hoping she will too. I don't want to constantly make it an issue, and create unneeded stress, like I said she's a great kid otherwise.....I know this isn't advice, just evidence that you're not alone! Lol, have a great day!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

No, you are NOT alone! My 10 year old daughter's room has become a disaster area. Our main issue is clothes. They are everywhere and she is constantly missing things. Here's what I do. Laundry once a week only, on Friday. If it is not in her closet laundry basket, it does not get washed (unless she gets ambitious enough to do it herself, with guidance). What I do wash, I fold and give back to her in a basket for her to put away and organize in her wardrobe. I refuse to handle her dirty clothes scattered everywhere and wash every other day because she changes clothes 4 times a day some days and throws around clean clothes carelessly. Now she cannot blame anyone but herself when things get lost or she has nothing clean to wear. And . . . when she wants to go shopping for something new, I need to see her being more responsible with the clothes she already has first.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Ocala on

I understand the mess, most families have to deal with something like this.
But if you don't get her motivated and get her to do it herself then she will
be like that as an adult and that is how she will keep her house.
And as her mother I am sure you don't want her to live like that.

Help her and guide her. Teach her how to do a good job and then sit back and let her do it on her own.
Trust me, she can do it.

I know that most people do not like to clean but it is something that we must do.
I hate having to clean, but when the house is clean I am proud of myself.

I wish you the best.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I don't think you're a bad mom, but I do agree that she needs some boundaries. If you ever watch the show "Hoarders", most of the people who have disorders of hoarding - not just having piles and piles of belongings, usually includes empty food containers and trash - have some kind of anxiety disorder as well.

Anxiety doesn't mean panic attacks, it can be tendancies towards perfectionism, OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, etc.

So, it could be laziness, lack of direction, anxiety, apathy - whichever, I personally believe the fact that she does this shows a lack of respect to you as a parent and your home.

My children won't have the choice when they get older. They will be expected to maintain a certain level of cleanliness in their rooms or they'll have consequences - most likely social opportunities and favorite toys - taken away.

Good luck! I'd just recommend laying down the law. Put it on a calendar and give her a few dates/month that she needs to have her room in order (consistency) and then establish punishment if she doesn't keep it that way.

As someone who's very neat and organized, I can't expect my kids to be exactly like me, so I'll have to compromise on what's an acceptable level of cleanliness.



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Sacramento on

I have dealt with this with my son and this I what I had to do. It was what my mother did with me. It wasn't fun but it worked.

1. Remove all electronic forms of entertainment (tv, stereo, phone, computer, etc.)

2. Get a package of big, black garbage bags and put them in her room

3. Lock her in her bedroom for one weekend (bathroom breaks every 2 hours) with a pitcher of water and one cup.

4. Either wear earplugs while you are inside or spend the weekend outside (it can get rather loud and R rated LOL) Watch the window in case she tries to escape (I wish I was joking).

5. Inform her that when the weekend is over, whatever isn't put away will be taken away indefinitely.

6. On Monday AFTER you take her to school, go in there with another big black garbage bag and put everything that is not put away in it. This includes stuff hidden in the closet, under the bed, in the drawers, behind curtains, etc. Take the bag(s) somewhere where she cannot get to them (someone elses house usually works the best)

7. Tell her that she has to keep her room clean for one month before she starts getting stuff back and then it will be one item every few days. Make sure that the very last thing she gets back is anything electronic.

I told you it would be drastic and uncomfortable but if you don't want an invasion of ants and bugs (been there, done that), you have to do it now or it will only get worse. Good Luck.



answers from Sacramento on

I think it's normal for kids to have messy rooms. However, it's our duty as their parents to keep on them about cleaning it daily. I would start by having her help you clean it good. Then, each night before she gets to watch tv or whatever it is she wants to do, she has to make sure her room is clean. I have a friend who uses the, "if it's not clean by this time I'm taking a trash bag to any toy left out" tactic and it works for her 9 and 10 year olds for the most part. They either clean up their room, or they lose toys forever.



answers from San Francisco on

It is too overwhelming to have her pick up the entire room but it is time for her to learn to care for her own space.

Give her just one thing she must do every day. Maybe it is make the bed or put all dirty clothes in the laundry bin. After two weeks, add one more thing, etc.

She will see that it is not hard to clean up and because it was her doing she will be proud of her room. Once she gets to the stage where her room is clean give her a reward like take her shopping for a new paint color for her room or a new rug or bedspread.


answers from St. Louis on

I first suggest that you stop cleaning her room. You can assist and help, but not fully clean it. Because then she does not understand the reward of her cleaning and having a clean room. Second, I would try to figure out what is important to you - to have a clean (ie: clean floors, no clutter, etc) room or to have a healthy (no old food, cans, etc) around? Also, what kind of organizational system to you have for toys? Does she have a toy box or individual boxes for different things like for books, dolls (whatever else an 11 year old plays with). Talk to her about the organization - maybe it's too much clutter for her to see the end result. Maybe she'd rather have toys in a box or in a drawer or something.

I also would make her cleaning her room a chore for her to do (or have done) by a certain date each week. If she doesn't get it done, then she loses something valuable (allowance if she gets one, tv for X amount of time, etc). She has to realize that she is part of your family and part of being in a family includes helping out and cleaning her part of the house (or keeping it clean).

I also think a certain amount of messiness is understandable (overflowing trash cans, messy bed, etc) but this is normal in my opinion. Personally, I make my daughter clean up anything in her room each night before bed. But she's 2.5 years old, in a small room and shares with her brother.



answers from Boston on

I do not allow drinks, food, candy in the bedrooms. No TV either. So it stays clean. I have a hamper in each room also. I expect bedrooms to be neat, its just how I am. We grew up in a house that was orderly. Never clothes on the floor. My son is allowed to have a cup of water on his night table. I make the beds and vacuum and dust. His job is to put toys away and folded clothes away. My son is 11 also and I just think its all in what you teach. We do not buy soda here so I dont have to worry about that stuff.



answers from Sacramento on

I've got the cure for this... my son was the same way. I kept telling him to clean it and keep it clean or I would clean it. Well, I finally cleaned it and tossed out his magic tricks by accident... they were in a garbage bag so I figured it was garbage. He was devastated... and the afternoon he realized it was garbage day and the truck had already come. Needless to say, he kept his room spotless the rest of his years at home.

Try it... might work for you.



answers from Sacramento on

You are not alone. My stepdaughter is 11 and it's the same thing. When she cleans it up it stays that way for 5 weeks? You are lucky! Hers stays clean for ONE DAY!. I think it boils down to several things: do you lead by example, are you clean, tidy and organized, do you stay on top of her to clean or keep her room clean and what's her personality type? I make several mistakes. While I am fairly tidy, I have much room for improvement so my example isn't the greatest. While we mke her clean her room, I choose other daily battles. Her personality is one of the messy kind. She never throws anything away etc. So we just make her go through her room once a month to gather clothes that no longer fit to donate, throw away trash, bags, cards once a week and clean her room once a week minimum hanging up clothes, putting away shoes . I try to have her put her shoes away daily and pick up clothes off the floor even if it only makes it to her chair to put it away on the weekend when we have more time. Also, I have provided cool bins on wheel for her closet for shoes, drawer bins for the closet, plastic shoe boxes for momentos, over the door hooks and cute hooks on the wall for her robe, zip up hoodies etc. I try to always make my bed hastily in the mornings to set a good example etc. So while it's normal, have her go through her room once a week religiously to throw things away, put away, hang clothes etc.



answers from San Francisco on

Hello A., One question -- why is your child running the family and being allowed to treat your home with disrespect?
I have 5 children and have raised several foster children. I had a rule that I seldom went into their rooms but when I did it had better be organized( not perfect) or I would do it. I simply put EVERYTHING that was out of place into a black garbage bag and took it to a dumpster and tossed it.
I had teens, preteens and even children that tested the theory at least once and a few children that had to pay the schools for school books that were in the mess. Signed a note to a teacher along with a picture of the room saying yes she might have done the assignment but when I cleaned I tossed it out. It was their responsibility not mine to be a decent and productive member of our family. We made sure that if there were certain surcumstances that meant things were a mess for a period of time then the rules did not apply.
I made sure that each room had the shelves it needed,and the crates for toys, my boys hated dressers seemed they thought stuff didn't fit the drawers so didn't put it in-- so we got them bookcases with baskets for socks and underwear. It actually worked and now their wives say that they are completely organized. If they had so many clothes that they could have that much laundry and still get by I made them get rid of stuff and for every one item my girls brought home they had to get rid of 4. It kept things simple and clean. I promise you that if this goes on now just wait til she is 16 and in High School with even less time on her hands than now.
I had a friend who did a remarkable thing. Jean, found that her 16yo daughter was only wearing black head to foot-- one day she asked who had died and how long was her daughter going tobe in mourning? After a smart alec answer when the child left for school she literally took every item out of the room that was black and tossed it at the local dump. They went shopping right after school. The girl was not happy but learned that her family was concerned, that her parents were in charge and not her and that she had better dummy up or yes there were consequences. My children learned a great deal from that experiance. I delt withthe crazy haircuts, and earrings but the pig was not going to live in our home but she was welcome to move out or to the garage. By the way I am also the mom who removed the bedroom door when a child slammed it in anger. Since we are making the house payments then she learned real quick not to forget she was not in charge. My children thought I was the hardest mom in the world at times and that I took my job as mother way to seriously but I have had several foster children come back and tell me that becasue i taught them self respect, how to be clean and orderly they then could be that way in thier lives and with thier own children. I am blessed to have several of those great teens still in my life today as healthy and productive adults. My children really get a bang out the fact that I have sat each daughter in law down and told them that I will respect how they wantthings in their own homes and as long as they can cook one cupcake at a time and the husband and grandchildren are happy I will consider things perfect but I am here if they need me. They all know that I love them and tell them often.
I wish you well, remember that parenthood is much like a theme park ride-- lots of twists and turns with a surprise around every turn but the end of the ride is great and makes you want to go again. Take Care of you!

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