Teenagers Can Have Clean Bedrooms!

When you think about a teenager’s bedroom, what is the image that comes to your mind?

Probably something on par with a bomb exploding in the closet, which caused all the clothes to spew out over every surface.  Dirt and clutter on all the surfaces is also probably floating around somewhere in your image, too.

  • I was once a kid with a messy room! (Much to my mother’s dismay)
  • I lived with brothers that all had messy rooms!
  • My friends all had messy rooms
  • and now I have children who have had messy rooms.

What is it about these teenage years, that come with this as a natural side effect?

Is it that all teenagers are lazy?  NOPE, I have seen some very hardworking teenagers.

Is it that all teenagers are rebellious or angry at their parents, so they retaliate at them by having their bedrooms look like toxic wastelands?  NOPE, I don’t believe this is the reason either.

I am a mom of three teenagers.  Only one of them is what I would call an organized personality, but all three of them have had to learn the simple tips I am going to share with you.  As their mom, I have had to teach them how to properly clean a bedroom.  Not nag at them, or pester them, or guilt them, or scream at them, but rather train them.  There is a significant difference.  I have had to put in time, side by side with them, teaching them to work top to bottom-clockwise around the room.  Showing them how to clean and what to clean.  For years, we had printed checklist’s on the back of their bedroom door’s that had pictures of a made bed, a duster, a vacuum, clothes in drawers and so on.  They could look at their checklist to be sure they did all the important steps to clean the room.

They have all learned how to put these tips into practice and have found the whole “cleaning the room thing” way easier and much less overwhelming, when they tackle it more frequently, rather than needing to go backwards once the room has hit disaster status.

I really believe (and have seen this to be true in my own home) that along with teaching them these basic tips, setting up some expectations as to how their room should be kept will go a long way to keep their rooms from qualifying for the next episode of hoarders.

Here is what this looks like in our home.

Basic Room Rules:

Clothes Should Only Be Worn- Not Displayed:  The typical guilty offender in a teenage bedroom, is clothes.  It is crazy how much better a room looks when there aren’t clothes displayed all over every surface.

  • If the clothes are dirty, they go in their basket, which lives in their closet.
  • If they are clean, they have a home (closet, drawer, hooks on the wall, baskets under the bed-whatever works best in the space).

This means that laundry day needs to be an event that they schedule into their week, so that the clothes can be managed ON THAT DAY!!!

All Bedrooms Get Dusted and Vacuumed Once a Week: Each of our kids are responsible to dust their own rooms once a week.  This once again helps to ward against piles building up, because how can you dust if you cannot see the furniture. (Ahh!!! Momma’s an evil genius)

In the same way, if you have stuff all over your floor (namely clothes) how can it be vacuumed each week?  It is virtually impossible.  Soo, we have a set day that the vacuuming happens in our house, which means that all members are responsible to make sure that this is able to be accomplished.

Everything Gets a Home: When our children were younger, we started helping them with systems to store their toys.  Like things with like things!  All Barbie toys went in the same area, all blocks and Legos in another.  When they were done playing, their toys would go back where they came from.  Now that they are teens, the same rules apply in their bedrooms.  We have made sure that they had bins, baskets, landing zones for sports equipment, and shelves for books; when they come into their spaces they know where their stuff belongs and it is easy to keep up with it all.

On this same topic, we really tried to keep up with the one in-one out rule.  For everything new that needs to find a home in that space, something else needs to go.  Not only does this help keep the sheer volume of stuff at a minimum for the space, but it also really helps with impulse buys.  How badly do they want that new item, that they are willing to give up something that they currently own?

The Bedtime Routine:  It is AMAZING how much can be accomplished with just a dedicated 5-10 minutes daily in a 10×10 room.  Shower, floss, and brushing are all standard items on a typical bedtime routine, but in the Todd house you can add 10-minute clean up to that routine.  Small daily habits make a huge difference!!!  Each night, before they roll into bed, they deal with the clothes from the day, put away any laundry that may have shown up, clean surfaces, put away toys or projects.  When they set their room to right the night before, it leaves much more free time the next day to do whatever it is they want.

These are habits that we have cultivated since our kiddos were itty bitty, but I firmly believe that even if you haven’t set these expectations from the beginning, there is still hope for your messy teen.  It is really important to set these expectations for our children.  

Aside from the fact that one day they will be running their own home and you may need to visit there and won’t want to take away a communicable disease; these small expectations on our teens are teaching them discipline, order, structure, and good stewardship.  For me, it isn’t even so much about having a show house for the next issues of Better Homes & Gardens, but about helping my teens grow into responsible adults.

Don’t be afraid to sit your children down and explain how character, discipline, and order matter out there in the real world.  Explain how these are the new norms for the home and the whole family is going to adjust course.  It is our responsibility to train our kids for adulthood, learning how to care for what the Lord has blessed them with, is all an important part of the process.

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