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The Tween and Teen Problem: Your Room is Disgusting

Room cleaning can be such a source of conflict with parents and tweens. Tweens often aren’t as interested in maintaining the same standards of cleanliness as their parents, particularly if it detracts from more interesting pursuits, like literally anything else in the entire world.

Parents worry about fire load, risk of injury during earthquake, and whether the house might get taken over by bugs seeking out forgotten snacks. It’s a contentious issue.


Your first problem is that you have to convince them there is, in fact, a problem. This can be difficult. This was one mom’s approach to breaking the news that all is not well in paradise (or at least it could be cleaner):



“Houston, we have a problem, and it’s your bedroom. It’s a mess. Get it sorted, please.”


It can be tough to reconcile two very different perspectives on one space. You feel like they are being lazy and living in a pigsty, while they feel like you’re being a tyrant wielding window cleaner and a dustpan, complaining about nothing. Your small-scale disaster is their Better Homes and Gardens. Finding middle ground can be challenging when you’re so far apart.


Sometimes you might feel like it would be easier to just do it by yourself. Then you know it will at least be done right, to your standards, in your preferred time frame and you don’t have to deal with any arguments about it. It feels like the easy way out, but it might not be the right way out after all. What if they can’t find something after you clean? That’s a whole other argument waiting to happen. Plus, is it really teaching them anything if you just do it for them? You can’t rescue them from every unpleasant situation, after all. They need to learn how to survive in the wild of their own modestly furnished apartment one day.



When you accept that they actually need to be responsible for their own stuff, they don’t always do it on the first try. Sometimes you need to …. “inspire cooperation.” Depending on how well things are going that day, that could include threats, begging, pleading and ultimatums. We aim to choose into relationship and calmly request but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, even if we aren’t proud of it.



When you do get them to clean their room, you might not have a meeting of the minds as to what the finished product should look like. “Clean” is pretty subjective, after all. What they think is clean could be a space not quite eligible for FEMA aid.


The biggest takeaway from all of this is that you are not alone (especially if the mice have found your kid’s forgotten snacks!) Every parent goes through this and rebelling is a normal developmental thing that kids do. That being said, basic sanitation is required and housekeeping is an integral life skill. Take a deep breath, hang in there, and know that every mom has been here too.

You will survive the tween-motional rollercoaster that is room cleaning, and home sweet home will be sweet once more.


Did you fight with your parents over cleaning your room?


*Thanks so much to Playdates on Friday and RachRiot for the hilarious memes.


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  1. Thank you so much for the PDF list. For me, half the battle is just getting organized. The process of a thorough “Spring Cleaning can just seem overwhelming. It”s like, where do I start? What all do I need to do? This list is awesome in getting organized and developing a systematic thorough approach. I am going to use this for all seasons: spring cleaning, summer cleaning, fall cleaning and winter cleaning. Keeping a clean healthy environment in my home is a big priority. Thanks again for the downloadable PDF.

    1. Sheryl Gould says:

      You are so welcome Lucky. It is so overwhelming isn’t it? Where do we start is right! Glad you found our article helpful!

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