I'm A Compulsive Cleaner Living In A Household Of Slobs

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I walked into my son’s room yesterday because I noticed we were out of bowls. And glasses. I knew they would be there waiting for me in all their crusty glory, and I was right.

His curtains were flipped on top of his curtain rods. His bed has no sheets on it, because apparently it’s more fun to roll around on a bare mattress with a tattered blanket. His carpet was covered with clothes and things that resembled trash — but you never know. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown away “trash” that ended up being more valuable than the Hope Diamond.

I have three teenagers, and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you they are all slobs. Their rooms look like a crime scene and I’ve been in tears over the mess. I am the polar opposite — a compulsive cleaner through and through. So, this whole having-three-messy-kids thing has been really freaking hard for me to swallow.

But I do.

I’m not here to share tips on how to get your messy kids to clean, because I don’t know of any. I’ve tried them all and nothing works, so forget about that right now.

I am going to share how I cope which has changed my life. Now, instead of trying to get my kids to change (as I said, I tried for a decade) I’ve learned to train my mind not to blow a gasket when they are messy, which is all the time.

I close their doors.

Yeah, it’s simple. They live in a hell hole, but I don’t have to look at it. Correction: I can’t look at it. I used to stand in their rooms feeling like I was either going to puke or scream. I’d feel overwhelmed, anxious, and furious at the site of makeup containers and dirty clothes all over the floor.

It did nothing except create lots of fights with my kids who weren’t afraid to tell me I “had to have everything perfect.”

I’d clean them myself, only to have all my sweat and tears be wasted because in 20 minutes their rooms would be even messier.

Now, I just keep their doors closed. If I don’t see it, it’s not there.

They have to keep common areas clean, or the cell phone goes away.

I’ve come to realize the phone being out of their grips does nothing for their rooms. When I think about it, it’s their space and I feel like they should have one room that’s theirs. We now have an understanding: They can do what they want in their room (with exceptions, of course) but the common areas have to be clean. Meaning, they put their dishes away, throw their stuff away, and put things back in their place.

This has worked beautifully because they don’t feel like they “have to be perfect”. Their words, not mine.

I take deep breaths.

It works. What can I say? Always, always remember to breathe. Then you have the strength to walk away from the mess and think of other things.

I realize my messy kids aren’t always going to live here, and one day I will miss them so much and the mess will be forgotten.

That doesn’t mean I will miss the mess itself. I don’t enjoy coming within an inch of my life tripping over my son’s size 12 shoes, or breaking my back to pick up spoons off the floor.

In the grand scheme of things when they move out, my house will be clean and I can enjoy being “perfect” then.

But, it will also be bare. It will be without the three people in this world who I love the most. And I don’t want to spend the years I have left with them arguing about how clean they are.

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