Peace in the Disaster Zone

How to pick your battles when it comes to navigating your teen's messy room

by
Posted in , Mar 24, 2015

A pile of clothes on the floor. Photo: 123RF(r)

When I was a critical care nurse, my co-workers loved to take over my patients when my shift ended. They knew everything would be in order and organized. My work area would be stocked and cleaned. My patient’s care would be done, with all the doctor’s orders finished unless a last minute emergency happened. Yes, I was a very organized nurse. When it came to my teenagers’ bedrooms, it was a different story.

As hard as I tried to motivate my sons to keep their rooms neat and orderly, it just didn’t happen. Occasionally, I’d have one of those mom meltdowns and throw everything messy into a disorganized pile in the middle of their room to make my point. They would just walk around the pile. How could they be such slobs when I’m such a neat freak? I thought.

Do you sometimes feel that, no matter how nicely you ask, your teen’s room still looks like a disaster zone? Here are some thoughts on managing messy teenage rooms.

1)  Pick your battles.

Decide together what can stay messy and what really must be cleaned. A few clothes on the floor, messy drawers or an unmade bed can be allowed, but dirty dishes, dirty clothes and uneaten food are unsanitary. Discuss the differences between messy and unhealthy.

2)  Pick a cleaning day.

Set a cleaning day aside once a week and be clear about what "cleaning" entails. Offer to help and show that you are willing to compromise. This will teach the importance of organization and priorities that can be carried into adult life.

3)  Get creative.

Teens want to rule their rooms. If your budget allows, invest in some cool organizational items such as storage baskets, bins or shelving. Let her design her bedroom and make it one that she would be proud to keep clean.

Years fly by, and your teen will leave home before you know it. She’ll take what she’s learned to her own place, and then neither of you will care much about the mess she once left in her room.

So enjoy your time together, messy rooms and all. 

Tags: Mother
View Comments