10 steps to a tidy teen room

Does this sight look in anyway familiar?

Does it make you want to swear and throw a bloody big tantrum?

Or maybe it inspires a desire to have the world’s biggest rant and rave, lecturing said room owner until your face is blue and your words have entered one of their adolescent ears, echoed through the void, and exited their other?

Major Disclaimer: This is NOT my son’s room.
I believe that I wouldn’t and couldn’t stand and take this photo without a can of petrol and a match if it were his permanent habitat! It would be the end of me. And him.

Honestly, any chance of domestic harmony would be shot in the foot if either of my teens regularly allowed their rooms to disintegrate to the extent illustrated above. I’m no advocate for “display home perfect” by any means and let me tell you upfront that I’m not a germ-a-phobic neat freak at ALL  ….. just ask my parents who ARE and they’ll surely and ashamedly hang their heads and quickly let you know that I fall very short of the mark!! BUT if you have a messy teen under your roof does their “right” to maintain their room in whatever level of pigsty is ok with them negate your “right” to determine what is (and isn’t) acceptable in your household?

Nope, I don’t think so.

So, short of starting World War 3 (which may have to be the last resort), how then can you work alongside your teen to maintain a balance between their freedom to manage their own personal living space and your entitlement to not be subjected to having a room in your house look like it’s in a permanent state of trashed?

Captain Obvious may try and tell you that a tidy bedroom comes from habit and that the tidy-room-routine should be instilled from toddlerhood. He’ll nod and say that with sufficient early training, the above disaster zone would have been preventable. Blah, blah, blah Capt’n. With all due respect, I disagree.

In my own parenting experience AND after talking with many frazzled mothers of adolescents (boys and girls) even the tidiest pre-teen can unexpectedly morph into a dirty-clothes-dropping-food-wrapper-tossing teenage terror who insists that 2 years between changing bed sheets is just the way it’s done these days and maybe you need to get with the program, Mum (insert eye-roll here, ok).

This 10 step tidy-up plan can have your teen living in a clean-ish room with minimum fuss or aggro. You may have to do this routine with them once or twice as their cleaning coach and so that they understand your expectations … but from then on they should be more than capable of going it alone.

1. Open the blinds and window and let them put on a pumping tune as loud as need be to motivate them. For this exercise, putting up with their crap music belting out is actually the lesser evil.

2. Grab a garbage bag and all obvious rubbish goes straight in – papers (sort through all of those messy paper piles as you go), food wrappers etc. If any dirty dishes are retrieved (tsk, tsk) then it’s straight to the sink with them.

3. Clothes lying around the place? Sort these into 2 piles – dirty and clean. If in doubt, sniff then assume dirty. Dirty pile needs to be hauled straight to the laundry and if you pass Mum on the way, a kiss on the cheek is obligatory. Clean clothes get folded (neatly) and placed in drawers or hung up.

4. Anything that doesn’t belong in the room now needs to be returned to its rightful owner and/or correct place. Time for the brother’s electric guitar to be returned!

5. Sort out the school bag, hunt for dead lunch and other rubbish before putting all the required books in. Have it well organised and somewhere handy.

6. Shoes need to find their mates and be put where shoes go – bottom of the cupboard is a great place to keep them out of the way.

7. Working across the room, from one side to the other, ensure nothing is remaining on the floor and that everything is now in it’s proper spot.

8. Time to change the sheets and make the bed. Fresh sheets are a little bit of heaven on Earth!

9. Vacuum the floor now that it can be seen … and how about a little squirt of air freshener (not Rexona!)

10 Keep it tidy! It’s easy to spend 5 quick minutes each night before bed to keep it up-to-date … isn’t it?


This is also NOT my son’s room, though I do live in hope!

How do you go with this issue? Can you close the door and just walk away Do you tidy their rooms for them because you just can’t stand it any longer? What happens at your place?

Playing Friday linkup with 2 fabulous blogs
Grace’s Flog Yo Blog Friday and Bree’s Flash Blog Friday.
Please check out these linkups – so many great blogs to check out again this week!



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19 Responses to “10 steps to a tidy teen room”

  1. iSophie Says:

    My sister has constant battles with my 15 year old niece. I once gave her a 2 week challenge to send me a photo of her room every night, and that worked pretty well. Made her be conscious of how messy it got from one clean day to the next.

    After 2 weeks, I made a suprise visit (from Hobart to Broken Hill) with the 4 boys. Turning up on their doorstep at 7pm on a school night, needing 5 beds! So I had an ulterior motive for needing her room clean, because I know just how bad it usually is.

    Will get my sister to red these tips!


    • Shari Says:

      Gee I love that photo challenge idea, Sophie! What a great way of keeping them accountable to it! Wishing your sister well with it all! x


  2. Jo Says:

    I think hunting for the dead lunch is particularly important especially if school holidays are on. My teen was certain she had succeeded but after a few weeks and a growing smell from the offending ghost of lunches past, the lost food was found. It was no longer identifiable and unfortunately, it cost us a new school bag.


    • Shari Says:

      Ouch! We have farewelled bags before due to a dead-lunch issue. The long summer school holidays when combined with ooops-forgot-to-clear-bag-out leaves no winners! Thanks for stopping by, Jo x


  3. Yvette @ DTlilsquirts Says:

    whoa thats a transformation!! hope it stays like that!!!


    • Shari Says:

      Hey Yvette! :) It would be heavenly to have a kid’s room stay as prim as that photo. Pity it’s a stock photo and not a room iny my house hahaha! Close though ;) x


  4. Josefa @always Josefa Says:

    no teenagers here…but they will be one day and it scares me senseless!!
    love your ten steps – do they apply to husbands as well?


    • Shari Says:

      Mmmmmm Josefa …..husbands are in a class of their own, aren’t they?? Mine isn’t too bad but there is always room for improvement isn’t there ;) x


  5. Rachel @ The Kids Are All Right Says:

    At our place it’s a bit of everything. Sometimes when I’m sick of sounding like a broken record and my teen is out of the house and I have the energy, I’ll do a big clean up (NEVER snoop.. ahem) so I can vacuum, dust and wash the floors. Then when the clothes pile up knee deep again I can sleep knowing there isn’t an inch of dust underneath, and clean clothes are not getting dirty.

    But other times my daughter will be unexpectedly taken by a cleaning frenzy – often at inappropriate hours – and we love that. Fortunately she’s a little OCD about clean sheets and a nice bed, so that’s never a battle.


    • Shari Says:

      I hear you loud and clear Rachel – I hate the broken record sound too, but it happens! Like you, given the energy I sometimes wait until the teens are out of the house for a bit and then go through their rooms like a dose of salts but never snooping either cough …


  6. Kylez...aka...Mrs.P Says:

    Sadly my terrible bedroom untidy habits from teenage-hood have followed me to adult-hood. The only difference now is that the mess is strictly clothes, clean or dirty, I just have too many of them and my room just becomes a disaster zone of them, much to my husbands disgust!My room was absolutely shocking as a teenager but I knew that, at least once or twice a year Mum would get so fed up with it, and the urge to re-arrange furniture and swap bedrooms so strong that she would eventually get in there and do all the hard stuff for me. Terrible on my behalf and I just know I am going to pay for it when my own daughter hits the teen years!


    • Shari Says:

      Hi Kylez – sounds like your Mum is tops!! My teenage room often was a disgrace and I wish my Mum had come to the rescue. I always liked it much better though once I’d tackled it!


  7. Caroline Says:

    I thought the picture of the messy room was mine :( fortunately my husband is a neat freak so hopefully the boys will be somewhere in the middle. Great tips x


  8. Grace Says:

    Our bedroom has its moments of pigsty-dom. I know all it takes is just to pick up a few clothes off the floor, chuck shoes back in the wardrobe and straighten doona cover. But alas, it just gets all too hard.
    I don’t know how I’m going to cope when the twinlets become teenagers.
    I’m in big trouble!


    • Shari Says:

      Yeah .. sometimes it does get a bit hard doesn’t it? I hear you … maybe the twins could play a game of putting Mum’s shoes back in the cupboard? I’m trying to harness Baby Girl’s work power while she is an eager helper ;)


  9. Bree @ Twinkle in the Eye Says:

    I’m really pleased to say I’m not up to this stage yet but my 1.5 year old can whirlwind his way through his room already!


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