It’s a common complaint from parents, followed by the common reaction from teens, “It’s my bedroom; why can’t I keep it the way I want it?” My response to my sons was that their rooms were part of our house, so they had to keep them the way we wanted them. However, I was realistic enough to know they wouldn’t always be tidy, so every so often I would warn them that it was a “Room Cleaning Weekend.” Taking a page from Love and Logic, I would tell them, “As soon as your room is clean, feel free to play your video games.”
Some teens actually enjoy the time spent cleaning their rooms, moving their stuff around while blasting music. Others are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. One of my sons would sit on his bed in despair, so I’d sit with him, tablet in hand, and ask him to look around the room. Together we’d make a list of what needed to be done: pick up clothes, put away toys, sort through papers, etc. Once he had a checklist in hand, he could get to work.
Keeping bedrooms clean is a battle that won’t go away, but there are things you can do to increase your chances of winning: avoid threatening, give fair warning, help when needed – and say thank you when it’s done!