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Teenagers and Clutter



Anyone who has ever experienced living with teenagers will probably be very aware how much clutter and chaos comes with them. Although I am currently lucky enough to be living as a clutter free adult, having 2 grown up sons, I know only too well what it is like to have the teenage and early 20’s hormonal tornado ransack my home! It is oh so common for clutter, chaos and teenagers to go together. Clutter is a reflection of inner conflict and confusion; in this case often caused by hormonal surges, the emotional stresses of exams and a transitioning period into adulthood. The last thing teens really need or care about is having us adults giving them a hard time.


Whether or not they have been well trained by us earlier in their childhood, (and I certainly ran a tight ship), it is probably not worth stressing about the inevitable teenage clutter, but I feel it is fair to insist that it is confined to their own rooms, and that their mess is their own responsibility.

However you might want to consider:

1. Laundry: Some parents insist that their teens do it themselves. My system was that I would do the laundry so long as it was placed in the designated laundry basket, and best to give them one in their room, so there was zero sympathy when the cry: ‘There are no pants/socks in my drawer’ reverberated through the house! However, any ironing was their responsibility, and needless to say, their clothes were worn un-ironed.

2. Bed linen: I chose to change the bed linen myself as it is unlikely to ever surface as a teenager’s priority otherwise. It was my preferred option over replacement for brand new every few months.

3. Vacuuming: You might want to vacuum every so often as it also provides an excuse to open the curtains and check on general hygiene conditions! A parent of a 17 year old boy I knew once reported finding a dead mouse under his clutter; she had obviously left things unchecked for far too long! I just used to pile everything from the floor on the bed and leave it there after I finished. An inconvenience to them? Possibly; but it made me feel better!

4. Tidy-ups: I recommend you let them keep their rooms any way they like within the confines of decent sanitation! Encourage a good tidy up from time to time (say every 3-4 months). The threat of ‘Clean your room or I will do it for you’ appears broadly speaking to work better with girls than boys, although neither seem to like the thought of their privacy being invaded. Generally my boys would engage periodically if I caught them at a good time, with plenty of prior notice, and we would blitz their room together. They genuinely appeared to quite appreciate the results, however short lived!

5. Public spaces; Enforce the house rule that public areas of the home must be kept clear of teen clutter. If not, I found that a bin bag full of their stuff dumped outside the back door usually worked a treat!

6. My final tip would be to give yourself a break: On a day to day basis keep their bedroom doors closed; What you don’t see won’t hurt you; But worrying about it just might!

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