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How to Clean Up After Your Teenager

Cleaning up after your teenager can often be a persistent problem. Mess and dirt in your older child’s room is rarely an act of rebellion or an attitude statement about you and how you keep the rest of the house. It’s simply the healthy sign that your youngster has found plenty of things to do rather than tidy up or take the long, dull trek to the dirty-laundry basket.

As long as bedclothes get changed regularly, fresh air is let into the room now and again, and the place checked for old food and unwashed clothes, there’s no health hazard – the visual assault is another matter! Take your pick from these ways to handle the situation.

  • Accept the extra work of keeping your teen’s room to the same standard as the rest of the house as cheerfully as you can. We’re all young once. Don’t expect or care that your tidying up produces no change in behaviour.

  • Enlist your teen’s help. Decide on three areas that really bother you – maybe dirty socks on the floor, an unmade bed, and paper strewn on the floor – and enforce cleanliness in these areas. Turn a blind eye to everything else. Provide a linen basket and rubbish bin and stack a fresh sheet and duvet cover on the bed each week. You can negotiate cleanliness by offering an incentive.

  • Hand over the vacuum and duster and insist that your teen perform one major clean during each school holiday. Provide sacks for clothes and hobby items that have fallen from favour and can be given to charity and set out a large bin for old paperwork and magazines to recycle.

    Your teenager’s efforts are likely to be greatest if someone other than just parents are going to see them. So choose a day just before friends are coming round. (This approach works better with girls or with boys who are inviting girls round.)

  • Decorate the room so your teenager will be determined to keep it nice. Talk paint charts together and buy furniture and flooring that reflect your teen’s idea of cool.

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