But, what about that disgusting pigpen, your teenager calls a bedroom?
When it comes to cleaning up after themselves, we as parents eventually morph from housemaid to housewarden. Since they were little, we gave them baths, hand fed them, and picked up their room when they went down for their afternoon nap. Soon began the potty training, learning their manners, and understanding the word, no. Picking up their own toys became something we worked on together, but it was still something we did as parents, and easier to do it ourselves.
Soon, especially when our second child arrived, we had no time to pickup toys, and we just learn to tolerate the house looking like you just opened a pre-school. We dive in and enjoy our children making messes. It's healthy, educational, and encourages their sense of adventure...ok, now I'm trying to justify it, but it drove me crazy. I had to keep telling myself, "let them be children".
Something happens, however, between stepping on legos in the Kitchen, and our little darlings disappearing to their room and finding no trace of them. Oh, except for the milk left on the counter and dishes in the sink, we soon discover there's a teenager in the house. The messes are confined to the Kitchen, and the Laundry Room, where you discover that you had more glasses then you ever imagined, and your kid has way too many clothes!
This is when chores, and a healthy routine become very important. For your own sanity, if nothing else. Our youth learn responsibility at home, and what it takes to be a valuable member of a family unit, from us. Routines help build security, and trains them for the mundane world of minimum wage jobs. It's easier to instill consequences, too. If they don't finish the dishes, we can't eat, for example.
But what about their bedroom?
The bedroom is their business, and if they want to live with a mess, let 'em. Ah, not so fast, mister!
This is inconsistent with everything else I just wrote about. What about hygiene, responsibility, discipline, consequences...life in the big city!
Yea, right! I know, and to use another cliche, "It's like pulling teeth". What do you do?
Here's some solutions that might work. Some I've tried...some offered by friends. Try them after you've exhausted through the lecture about responsibility, "blah, blah, blah", and complaining until your blue in the face. It's now time to take some action...
- Set a deadline, and have them agree to it. By Friday, for example, of each week the room will be picked up, clothes put away, trash taken out, etc. If not, everything on the floor will be collected and thrown away. Follow through!
- Take the door off the little princesses door, and expose to the world her filth and unmade appearance. Privacy is a valuable commodity and worthy of exploiting in your favor.
- Change the Wi-Fi password daily, and give it out when the room is clean. This is their daily reward for doing what is expected of them. Courtesy of Dr. Laura.
- Take the sheets off his bed, or remove it entirely, and leave the little slob a sleeping bag and a throw pillow. Worse case, he'll learn to be a minimalist.
Here's my favorite, and it really works. Resort back to when she was three. Clean it yourself.
Be respectful, and not in anger. Do it love, and I mean this. Tackle the task as if she were a house guest. Don't go through her things, but arrange them in such a way that might appear you had...heck, you had to dust, right? Throw out the trash, hang up her clothes, wash her sheets, make her bed. Vacuum the floor; the whole nine yards. Do the unexpected. Be creative, have fun, and use it as a teaching moment.
You should only have to do this once, and I guarantee you're teenager will understand the true meaning, "If you want something done right, do it yourself".
Let me know how it goes.