Each phase of parenthood comes with its own set of challenges. Perhaps, the adolescent/teenage years are one of the tougher ones because your kids are at an age where they want to be more independent, make their own decisions and live a little rebelliously! Apart from this, face it, teens would much rather spend hours in front of a screen than to spare 10 minutes of their time to clean!
Yes, it’s difficult to get your teenage children to ‘want’ to clean; however, it’s important that they do it anyway. Particularly when it comes to bedrooms, no teen should be allowed to live like there’s been a tornado in their room! If you encouraged them to pick up their toys and put them away when they were younger, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be cleaning and tidying up as teens! With that said, here are some tried and true tips to guide you through cleaning with teenagers.
Don’t Yell, Plead
No one likes to be yelled at, especially teenagers! Even though they have it coming sometimes, consider using a different approach. Walk them through a day in the life of a parent and just how much work and responsibilities you have on a daily basis. Make them understand how tiring it is and plead with them to make things a little easier for everyone by helping out around the house. The ‘guilt’ approach is a lot more effective than yelling at your kids to get things done.
Teens hold on to a lot of junk for sentimental reasons (some of us do that as adults too). While it’s important to be understanding of this, you need to draw the line somewhere! For example, keeping old gift tags/birthday cards from loved ones and friends is fine; on the other hand, holding on to junk jewelry that’s probably rusted or broken is not. Encourage the habit of discarding or donating unwanted items for every new possession they get to help keep clutter under control.
Set an Example
If your bedroom is a mess and you leave your belongings lying around, you can be sure that your teens will do the same and believe that it’s justified. Set a good example by tidying up after yourself; make your bed every morning; fold and put your clothes away; and maintain a clutter-free bedroom. Avoid saying things like “it’s my house/I pay for everything/I can do what I want because I’m an adult”; this will only cause ill feelings or make your kids resent you in some way.
Help Out When You Can
Don’t make your teens do all the work; after all, they are just kids trying to handle the pressures of doing well in school while maintaining a social life and dealing with other “teenage problems”. Lend a helping hand when time and energy permits (perhaps, on a weekend?). For example, ask them to dust the furniture on one side of a room while you do the other, and/or draw straws to decide who has to vacuum and who has to mop. It’s a good idea to help them clean their rooms as well because it gives you a chance to observe what kind of junk their holding on to and whether or not they’re putting things away in a neat manner as opposed to dumping! Remember, when your teens have help to clean up, they will be more encouraged to do it (since it can be over and done with faster and they can go back to texting or playing video games!)
Make a Schedule, Offer Rewards!
Just like young kids, teenagers are more motivated to do chores for a reward. However, you can’t go around giving them something every time they clean or help out around the house. Hence, the best thing to do is make up a weekly schedule for cleaning/chores with a reward or allowance at the end of it. Apart from this, they won’t feel overwhelmed with the thought of doing chores and cleaning up when there is a schedule that only marks 2 or 3 things to do for the day. Yes, the schedule you draw up should distribute cleaning tasks evenly throughout the week and not have your kids saddled with chores and cleaning that will take more than an hour to finish.
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that every family is different with their own unique schedules. In other words, while other families with teenage kids may have time to do more than just quick tidying up, you and your kids may be working on a much tighter schedule. Therefore, it’s okay to hire help to maintain a clean home; however, it’s still important to encourage teenagers to clean up after themselves and work together as a family to keep things neat and clean in the home.