12 Aug
Is This My Daughter’s Room or a Pigsty?

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My 14-year-old daughter’s room is a MESS. It’s seriously disgusting, like old soda bottles, dirty snack plates, and just stuff everywhere. I am very neat and the rest of our house is pretty tidy. I’ve always just let her do what she wants with her room, but it’s starting to gross me out. Should I go in and clean it while she’s at school? Or just shut the door and go to a relaxation/meditation class?


Tidy in Tampa


Dear Tidy in Tampa

First, stop allowing your daughter to take soda bottles and snack plates into her room. Don’t ask me how such obscure solutions like this come to me; I’m pretty sure I channel them straight from Mr. Clean.

If that doesn’t work, refuse to speak to her in English and insist everyone speak to her in pig Latin ONLY. If she’s going to live like a pig, then treat her like a pig, ouyay owknay atwhay Iway eanmay? At dinner time, I highly recommend calling her to the table the way a farmer calls a pig to the slop trough, which is also the Arkansas Razorback football cheer: “WOOOOO, Pig! Sooiee!” Do this especially when she has friends over. (Peer embarrassment is a helpful motivational tool at this age.)

I don’t think you should clean your daughter’s room for her. By fourteen the gravy train is over and we should be preparing our children for the joys of adulthood, such as entry-level job responsibilities and taxes.

In fact, I think you should pass a law called the “Messy Room Tax.” If your daughter doesn’t meet a mutually-agreed upon minimum standard of cleanliness in her room, she will pay a tax for the “government” to do it. And, would you look at that? The tax is the exact same amount as the texting plan on her cell phone! Darn, it looks like she won’t be texting her friends at all this month!

Adulthood is hard with the responsibilities and taxes and death. It’s our job to prepare our children for it. It’s like what we learned in undercover wet nurse school: you must rub your nipples with sandpaper to toughen them up for breastfeeding. So it’s really best to toughen your children up sooner rather than later.

Heather, TMH

18 Responses to “Is This My Daughter’s Room or a Pigsty?”


Comment by Natalie.

See that’s awesome advice for me to be storing away for when my kids get older. Pig Latin only. Messy Room Tax.
Arkansas Razorback football cheer. Duly noted and filed away 🙂


Comment by Elizabeth.

If it makes you feel ANY better… I had a room similar to your daughter’s as a teenager… and I’m a clean freak now! My mom has no idea what or how it happened but it happened. Soooo it won’t be that way forever!!

…maybe :o)


Comment by From Belgium.

Messy room tax, great idea.
The good old ‘you are not leaving this house until this room is spotless young lady’ approach might work too.


Comment by Bonnie Wienke.

We tell the teenagers “Oh, would you look at that? Dirty laundry all over the floor, clean laundry all over the floor, bed unmade. Guess you won’t be going anywhere until everything is washed and hung up. Your choice when it is done and you can leave the house” That way it is all in their hands.


Comment by Black Belt Mama.

I think I love this blog. First time here and it won’t be the last. . .


Comment by The Mommie Confessions.

I’ll be storing these ideas away in the torture the kids bank. Any ideas on a first graders room?


Comment by Jennifer at These Are Days.

Love this advice. Also, the sandpaper/nipples comment has me remembering the latch-on pain so palpably that I’ve wrapped my arms around my chest (protectively and sort of in horror as well) where they will remain for quite a while.


Comment by HellTygr.

Also remember that if you’ve always let her do whatever she wanted in there, switching expectations all of a sudden can be the start of some very big fights. (Yes, I remember 14 and fighting over my room clearly)
I think baby steps are the way to go. Start by prohibiting food/drink, then minimum requirements include a path to the bed. Finish up by telling her the story of the time I had a dead rat in my room and it was so messy, I couldn’t find it for a week.


Comment by Rojopaul.

Having just spent at least two hours helping MY 14 YO daughter clean her room about a month ago, I can so relate to Tidy in Tampa. We counted 18 water bottles in various stages of consumption that came from under the bed. The good news is that we came up with clothes to throw out, clothes and books to donate, and at least 3 bags of just trash. It was disgusting and pathetic.

HOWEVER, I think they need our help when it gets to the point that it’s as bas as it was. The funny thing is my daughter loves to decorate and has a nice array of photos and softball trophies, not to mention the (at last count) 22 Justin Bieber posters on her wall. But it gets overwhelming to them when it’s so bad. I think the key is to check in regularly and make sure it’s liveable.

Since the Big Clean Up, I have been checking her room at least weekly to make sure it is staying in good shape and, so far so good.

If that doesn’t work for you, there’s always the Messy Room Tax. THAT is just brilliant.


Comment by dusty earth mother.

Messy room tax!!!!! Heather, you’re brilliant!!!


Comment by MelodyJ.

My daughter’s room used to be like that. I used to hit her room with a trash bag whenever she’d go spend the night with a friend. When she moved out at 17 my son, his friend and I cleaned the rubbish left behind and found many treasures she probably didn’t even remember she had. Now at 23 she’s moved back home to go back to school and she’s an incredible neat freak. The first week here she called me at work to quiz me about when I’d cleaned the main bathrooms tub and floor last. That’s her job now.

It’s amazing what living on her own did for her.


Comment by Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him.

The only problem with the room tax is that you’re basically paying yourself with your own money unless this 14 year old is a Doogie and earning a livelihood already. I say you strike right at her core, kill the essence of the 14 year old by taking away the only thing they care about: The Mall.

Rojopaul Reply:

Or in our house, Facebook and texting! (Muahhhh ha ha)


Comment by Cait.

My mother cured me of my messy room at a very early age. She went in and gathered up everything that was on the floor and scattered around and locked it in her closet. I had to do chores to earn my things back. This punishment coincided with teaching me to use the washing machine so that I could launder the 3 pairs of underwear that didn’t get locked up…


Comment by Nona.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes, despite all the best efforts failure is inevitable.

My daughter was born without the ability to comprehend cleanliness. All manner of taxing, punishment, yelling, encouragement, bribery, etc. would never inspire her to keep her room safe for human habitation.

When she finally moved out at age 24, it took the husband and I four hours to haul the trash out and disinfect her room. True story.

I love her for who she is, even if that person is a total slob.


Comment by janine.

Well, I think those are all great ideas. But I have to say, as someone who was a messy teenager, I am still a messy adult–in my own space. The rest of my house is so clean you could eat off any surface you choose. But my room is, and has always been, a total bleeping disaster area. I draw the line at where my messiness is impinging on other people’s ability to live in and enjoy the house. If you still have trouble with other strategies, you might consider drawing that line for your daughter.


Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

…And besides the tax, fix a cleaning day and clearly state that if by the end of said day her room is not tidied up to YOUR standards, you’ll enter it next day and throw away everything you find useless.
Then do it.
After you’ve thrown away something useless and old which she values, she’ll learn her lesson.

Good luck!


Comment by Soccer Trophies.

My little pork chop of a daughter is part athlete and part locker room. I move all her clothes and she hides them in her awards chest under all the Soccer Trophies and LaCross Trophies. She thinks that clothes that stink are lucky. WTH!!!!

Consider Checking Out...