Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Call the Hazmat Team

I would like to formally apologize to my sons' future wives (assuming someone actually marries them at some point in the future). I have tried (honestly, I really, really have) to teach them how to pick up after themselves. I have tried to teach them to make their beds. I remind them on a daily basis that food does not belong in their rooms. I let them know I'm not particularly fond of picking up their dirty underwear from all over their floor. I stress the importance of taking care of their things and they know I nearly burst a vein every time I see them put freshly laundered clothes back into the hamper without ever wearing them, simply because they're too lazy to put them away.

They just don't care and would be perfectly content to live in their own filth. I, on the other hand, can only take it messy for about a week before I start to twitch when I walk by their room. I'm not unreasonable. I mean, I know I've got 6 kids and a small house. It looks cluttered a lot of the time. I'm ok with that. I can deal with a little clutter. I don't mind a stack of bills and papers on the counter. It doesn't bother me that we have a bin with hats, gloves, and other outerwear sitting by the door. But I start to hyperventilate when I can't see the floor. I hate seeing toys all over the place and I nearly have a breakdown when the bathrooms are dirty.

I really try to teach them though. So, tell me, why does their room look like this on a far too regular basis?


Enter at own risk. A tetanus shot and steel-toed boots are recommended. Hazmat gear is probably a wise investment.


They used to have a floor. I haven't seen it in awhile, but I'm pretty sure it was there at one time. I vaguely remember a carpet printed with roads on which they drove their Matchbox cars.


It's like living in the city dump.


Nice


Oh yeah, what else would you store in your drawers, but half-eaten granola bars, and old banana and clementine peels. I know that's what I keep in MY drawers.

and Pop-Tarts and hard-as-a-rock bread fragments


and just in case you get hungry later, it's important to stash food among the collection of weird stuff boys keep


So that's where my last Diet Coke went!
(As I was typing out this post, Jackson walked into the kitchen, half-asleep, grabbed a granola bar, and started back to his room. He is always hungry at night. He gets up and eats in the middle of the night often. If I did that, I'd weigh a million pounds. He's skinny as a rail.)

It looks like a pack of wild dogs slept in their beds

Although I try to teach them and I punish them and I take away privileges and I try and try, sometimes it's just easier to kick them out and go in with a garbage bag, a can of Lysol, and one of those garbage picker-upper stick things. I've become quite the expert at cleaning up after them.

A half hour after I took my life in my own hands and set foot amid the toxic waste....

I KNEW there was a carpet for their cars to drive on! (I left the beds alone because I was afraid of what might be living in there. I think I'll strip them down and throw everything in the laundry tomorrow. It's probably been 3 weeks since I did that!)


the tool bench Clay got for Christmas. He still could not care less about it. Brooklyn, on the other hand, likes to carry the tools around in her purse along with an assortment of lip gloss and misc. crap she finds around the house. She's going to be a bag lady when she grows up.


Other than the broken shade, much better

Ahhhh, I feel so much better when every surface isn't covered in stuff.

124 comments:

Monica said...

How did you achieve that transformation in 30 minutes?

My two boys have the same effect on a room as your boys. We ask people if they carry extra insurance before clearing them to enter.

I cajole, scream, lay down the law, fuss, moan, and otherwise make endless attempts to teach them otherwise, but I too find it easier sometimes to put the Lysol in my holster and wade on in.

BUT IT TAKES ME WAY LONGER THAN 30 MINUTES!

Bravo Dawn.

Mama On The Move said...

Oooohhh. Where did you get those nifty shelves with the storage bins in them? I need some!

Sue R said...

This really hits at the heart of my struggles with clutter too, and with three boys that are not at all inclined to help.

Part of my problem is holding on to too much stuff! I've been watching "Clean House" this past year and trying to get rid of things. I even got rid of a lot of clothes I'd bought for incentive - you know, too small so I'd diet down to fit in them. But it's harder when it's not just my clutter, but everyone else's too.

I also let some magazine subscriptions expire, got rid of old ones I'd kept, got off junk mailing list, and have a lot less paper coming into the house. It helps.

There did come a time when my kids were in high school that I stopped doing their laundry too. Their mess feels less like my problem any more. And they do eventually get tired of the disorganization and do something about it. But that didn't happen for a long time.

I hope they do better for their wives than they did for me! I keep telling them the way to a woman's heart is helping her around the house!

Dan said...

Hey, I've got an 18 year old college sophomore whose room looks like your before pictures. Thank heavens the room is away at college and not here.

Maybe someday he'll grow up and call you to clean (or better yet - do it himself).

Kate from Germany said...

I'd like to tell you they'll grow out of it as they get older, but I'm not really qualified to do that, seeing as I'm a girl who never quite grew out of it.

But at least they're not like my neighbor's son, who pees in his toybox...Okay, I'll shut up now.

Rachel said...

"weird stuff boys keep" LOL! i have a lot of that around here. i usually refer to it as random crap, but that's much more descriptive!

Tiffany in Ohio said...

I LOVE the bin organizer. Did you make that or buy it?? Where can I find one, and is it going to make me even more in debt than I already am??

Anonymous said...

...and the USB cable for (probably) your camera, of course. Or did one of them get a camera for Christmas? Seems like everyone in blog world's sons got cameras for Christmas. Can't remember if yours was one of them.

pepsiplease said...

OMG it could have been my sons room when he was a teen. Wantyou to know there is hope. He is now married with his own home and he is now OCD about his house. Shoe must come off at front door, no eating anywhere but dining room etc. Of course his 2 children (6 & 4)are just like he was as a child.I chuckle under my breath.

Ruth said...

That only took you a half an hour? Wow I'm impressed!!!

Louisa said...

Had to laugh at this post Dawn (sorry!)My son (7) is really tidy and my daughter (5) is getting the hang of it. But my bedroom was far far far worse than that when I was about 12 - I dug pathways through the debris to get to my bed/wardrobe etc. My mum eventually after many threats went in and put everything in black sacks and they went out to the bin. I was completely horrified and instantly cured of my slovenly ways!

♥Kim said...

Oh My! Wow that is just crazy how kids care about there rooms. Funny! It looks much better since mom cleaned up after them! :)

MaBunny said...

It's not just boys that do that.. my 10 yr old daughter gets her room pretty bad, but she knows not to take food in there... I'm still waiting to see the floor of her closet...

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Wow. It looks like a tornado hit their room. My boys are just like that. You have it organized much better than I do! You would think that they could find the right picture and put the item away but nooo.... they can't. Ugh! It's like they have to see every item that they have. My youngest kicked a toy this morning and "couldn't walk" for a bit because he hurt it. As my husband said, "That is why we tell you to pick up your toys!" No sympathy here.

I have to say though you did a good job of cleaning it up. ;)

Anita in Indiana

mom2spoiledkids in Indiana said...

I am so glad to see I am not the only one with kids' rooms that look like that! However, I would LOVE to know where you got the shelves w/ the drawers in it. Awesome idea!

Barb said...

while my daughter's room is not quite that bad ~ it still makes me crazy and so today I will attempt to declutter since my niece and great niece will be staying in there for the next week. Wish me luck!

betsey0810 said...

I am sorry you have to go through this, however it does let the rest of us know, we are not alone :)

Angela said...

What a great room, and I know what you mean by not seeing the floors. The boys are still asleep, maybe I should sneak into the play room and start "organizing" with the trash bags.

Sara said...

that looks rather like my brother's room growing up... especially about not being able to see the floor. and he had the room all to himself!

Laura ~Peach~ said...

you got it clean in a half an hour I bow to you super mom that would have taken me at least a couple hours... Love the carpet!

Beverly said...

My daughter's whole house looks like this--and she's 29!! Good luck.

Esther (UK) said...

This is why blogging is so darn theraputic! When we spend all day every day doing things like this, only for it to be ruined within 24 hours (and the only time people come and visit you is on the days when you'd finally had enough and think 'nope, there's no point - I'll leave it for today, no one will know....'), it is so soul destroying and unrewarding. BUT when you have a blog, you can take a picture, tidy up, take another picture, put in on the internet and VOILA! Instant recognition for the fabulous job you do and the awed appreciation of your hundreds of fans (who think you're even more fabulous now). :D

That's it, I'm off to tidy my playroom and get it on my blog.

Except I think that rather than half an hour, there may be a few days between my before and after shots.....

Amy Flippin Blankenship said...

You do have to admit they used that storage bin for some good use. Afterall, there is a USB cord in there. LOL Isn't it amazing what us moms can do in half an hour to a room where the door won't even open all the way. My kids would take 3 days. I don't have the patience for 3 days!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn, How long did it take you to clean up that mess? My son wanted his room painted a new color (Black..I said No) I told him when he gets rid of all the toys he don't play with I will remodel his room. He was 9 at the time and he had a yard sale for his toys. The rest of the toys we donated to a foster care center. All the leftover books we gave to our school library. Now if only he didn't hate all his cloths. That will be the next project. His room looks great with a blue/grey color now. Kristine in Michigan.

Anonymous said...

I have to know where you got the bins! While I only have 3 boys, we still have MUCH stuff and I am in love with your bins!

Mummy McTavish said...

I see you've taught them to store like items together: fruit peel, leftover snacks, computer cords...

My youngest son is going to be a bag lady too... Um, perhaps a bag gentleman... He does love his fluffy pink pig handbag.

Anonymous said...

I have that same dresser, or one that looks exactly like it except that mine has one drawer pull for each of the larger drawers. Whoa, except for the boy stuff, it could have been my room from 15 years ago.

Anonymous said...

How did you get into my house to take pictures of my son's room? Wow. Same rug, same toys, same orange peel and pop tart. I feel better now.

Linda said...

OMG Dawn I am just like you. My children are now 22 and 17 and I STILL pick up their rooms. It's me and I know it, but I can't stand the clutter. When they were younger I would also set up their doll houses, Lego towns, etc. so that they were all in order too! Type A personalities unite!

Meg said...

My son's room looked similar (minuse the food remains) for a long time. Didn't bother me. Bothered my DH to NO END. Well in November, as a birthday gift to my DH, I tackled his room. He joined in unrequested. I showed him how I was sorting his toys (legos in one pile, power rangers in another, etc). Once the piles were pulled together, but before we binned each pile, I asked him if he REALLY played with the items. If so, he got to keep them. Otherwise we made a donation pile. The pile of parts we had no idea what they went to went in the trash. All McD/BK toys went in a bag that now hangs on the back of his door. My new rule is, if you get a kids meal w/ a toy, you can keep the toy, but you must purge one of ones from the bag. Since we purged and binned his toys according to subject his floor has remained visible. Of course he's one boy and he's 9. But he really just needed guidance and help. He was probably overwhelmed by the disaster that had become his room - too many toys and not knowing where to start.

Simple Country Girl said...

I did the exact same thing last night. I can't stand clutter but I will let the kids bedrooms go to a degree. But it had been messy for close to a week now and I was tired of stepping over toys to wake my daughter up in the morning. So last night we set out on a mission and within 5 minutes had the room back to passable according to my terms! I guess it doesn't help that the little sister likes to drag everything out and then more on top of that! It's amazing how a nice clean room can look like Hurricane Almighty ran through it in no time! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who flips out over a messy room after so many days has passed LOL.

LittleBirdies said...

My kids have those monkey sheets too.

Coma Girl said...

At least they have sheets on their beds. I recently discovered that my 17yo step-son has not been using sheets on his bed...and I had to explain to him why this was disgusting. Yes, 17.

Beth said...

Dawn,
As I was reading this, I was thinking, "well, she's got two choices." But I see you created a third I hadn't thought about - cleaning it yourself. It looks great in there, but why do I have the feeling it's going to get back to its former state much sooner than you're going to want? The two choices I was thinking of were 1) don't let the boys out of their rooms until they get it all cleaned up. I do this on a daily basis. One of mine still naps, the other one has a "quiet time" when he plays in his room. When quiet time is over, he cleans up before he's allowed to come out. Maybe you can try that. Today don't let them come to dinner until their room is clean (he who does not work doesn't eat). If you do it every day, it'll stay clean (that's the theory). Option 2) live with it. I heard a quote once that says something like, "Every day the fingerprints on the window get higher and higher until they disappear forever." It reminds me that even though I hate not being able to look thru my windows because they're smeared with grimy hand and fingerprints, one day my kids will be grown and I will miss the baby days, toddler days, etc. It helps me remember what's really important. You'll have plenty of clean rooms once they're gone, which I know seems like an eternity from now, but in reality it will come too quickly.

Stefanie said...

Looks great! It's such a great feeling to get everything organized, I'm just not good at keeping it that way!

Alicia From De said...

I have boys too, They are Exactly the same, Maybe we should all come together and open a boys only pig pen, they would be in their glory then.LOL, but where did you get their organizer? I have been looking for one and cant seem to find one.

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy I'm not the only Mom with this issue!

Anonymous said...

where did you get those plastic drawers with the wood frame. I have five kids and I need to have them. Liz in NH

Mandy said...

OMG that is almost exactly what my boys room looks like right now. I should take a picture of it now and threaten them that I will show it to everyone but I don't think they will care. Last time I cleaned I dumped all of the totes out and and found a dead toad that they found.ARGGG At least I feel better knowing that I am not alone with the boys

amy said...

What a good Mom you are. I get the same way...after a week or so, I just can't TAKE it any more! My husband's solution is just to throw everything away, but I'm far too practical (or is it insane?) for that. The room looks great!

Jenn said...

OMG! I have the same problem with my three girls that share a room! LOL at the clemintine peels My kids love to eat them but don't love to pick them up, I always find them in the family room under the t.v. stand. Funny thing is They are not suppost to have food in the family room because of this! Thanks for reminding me I'm not alone! Now I'm off to get my hazmat suit to clean my girls room! If I don't return in 20 minutes call for help!

Cyndie said...

Dawn, where oh where did you get that awesome toy chest with those slide-in bins? I need something like that for my daughter's room.

Michelle said...

OMG you just crack me up... I am sad to say it doens't get better.. I still find the half eaten stuf and things that should never be in a bedroom oh yeah and the one that one day may cause a stroke.. the clean clothes folded in the dirty laundry aaaggghhh!! Cheering you on sister!

Michelle

Jayne V. said...

Wow! I must say that's pretty impressive, both the mess and the clean up. It took me almost two hours to clean my kids' playroom yesterday, and it wasn't nearly as disastrous! Kudos!

Holly said...

I am SO glad you posted this! Thank goodness I am not the only one with a messy boy!!!

Anonymous said...

Dawn, Would you be willing to tell me where you got the bin holder in the boys' room pictures? I could really use one of those for my boys.

Thanks!

karen
khaddeman2003@yahoo.com

Julie in PA said...

Don't you just love when you buy them Christmas presents, or um Santa brings them Christmas presents, and then they don't play with them? Even though they ASKED for that particular toy? Grrr.

This Crazy Thing Called Motherhood said...

Good job, Mom!

Now come do my house! lol

Chas said...

I can not tell you how much of a relief it is to know that my son is not the only one on earth capable of creating a natural disaster zone out of his bedroom. Only when I attempt to tackle his room (he never eats in there and there's only one of him) it's an all day project. I'm thoroughly impressed with your 30 minute transformation. What's your secret, a fairy godmother with a wand? Dare to dream...

Nat said...

You have to put a post about your technique!! My daughter's room gets a bit less messy and it takes me at least 2 hours to pick it up (in those moments I am so mad about it that I just decide there is no hope in her doing it and I do it myself)..
Tell us, please tell us, how you do it in 1/2 hr!!!

MistryUnique said...

Alright - be prepared to think 'outside the box' here....

I have three boys - and their room looked WORSE than that (yes, I swear on a box of bon-bons) WORSE...and I finally had ENOUGH. I put everything in bags and moved it all OUT of their room. All toys are now in the 'game room' downstairs - in bins, much like yours. And then I made them a deal...

Keep these toys picked up and your room nice - and you can get a pet for the new aquarium you got for Christmas.

They chose snakes.

TWO snakes.

And I promised - spotless for a week, and it's yours. Of course I never imagined they would KEEP it clean....they are BOYS - 11, 9, and 4. They don't know the meaning of clean.

WRONG. Guess where we're going this weekend. Yep - to get the snakes.

Lucky me. I have a clean house, and soon - snakes.

I'm so glad mine aren't the only filthy boys on the planet!

~ Misty

Covey and Justin said...

Reminds me of my room as a teenager. My mom got so sick of it she told me anything out of place was going to time out for a month--it only took once. She swooped through one morning while I was at school and put everything into trash bags and locked them up. I only had about 2 pair of undies to wear for a whole month--I did a lot of laundry :) She also "served" me the leftover food that she found in my room. Nothing like eating a 4 week old pizza crust to cure you of that habit quick! (Of course that would probably be considered child abuse now!)

mhgood said...

Okay, Dawn, here's what you are to do: the next time you're having a bad day, pull up this blog post and look at these before and after pictures again. Reread the line where you say it took you half an hour to achieve a complete transformation of the boys' room, thereby guaranteeing your continued status as SuperMom. You will feel better, I promise. You made ME feel better!

I saw similar toy bin organizers at IKEA when I was there last week. They have a neat-o kind that you can continually add on to, as the size of your kids' toy collections grows. Pretty neat!

Halle said...

Oh boy! Thanks for the laugh this morning. It's my daughter, not my son, who is the messy child. Everywhere is goes she leaves a trail of random weirdness. Scraps of paper a treasured. Empty snack bowls can be found in odd places and she, too, has tools and lip gloss in her purse.

Terri said...

My children's rooms (and I only have two), are worse. When they decide there is no more damage to be done in their own rooms, they move on to our bedroom. Unacceptable, but I don't have the energy to clean the girl child's room one more time and the boy child, well, I might because he's my favorite. JOKE! Take heart...at least the food scraps included some fruit. I thought that said alot about your parenting. You wouldn't even find that in my kids' rooms. Just some curdled milk, probably.

Angela said...

Dawn...this looks exactly like my kids rooms. I have a 14yo son and a 17yo daughter. Honestly, the daughter's room looks WAY worse than the son's room at any given time. Go figure! Anyway, here's a tactic that I just started that might help you.

We have started a new policy in my house where the kids have complete control over their lives. (that's a BIG thing in our house). They have to have all homework completed and ALL chores, including clean rooms, completed before they can even think about getting any priveleges for the day. ALL privileges. We started taking away one privelege at a time but it was proving to be ineffective because they have too much and found something else that was fun. So no tv, no phone, no music, no books, no friends over, no video games, NOTHING until they come to either me or my husband and show US that everything has been accomplished, We have been doing this for about 2 weeks now. We have had about 90% success with it so far. And I have a LOT less stress.

My teen son pointed out yesterday that he loves the new policy because he HATES when I get after him constantly to get things done.

I should add that we remind the kids once to do these things and after that they are on their own.

One more thing...I am sure that you hear "I forgot" a lot in your home. I seriously had nightmares about the kids saying "I forgot" so many times so we decided to do something about that, too. Instead of giving our kids an allowance, we pay them for grades. So, every time they say "I forgot" they get 50cents deducted from what we owe them. needless to say, I have barely heard any "I forgots" in our home lately.

Anyway, sorry I wrote a novel in comments. Just thought I'd share something with ya.

Good luck!

beagle said...

First of all KUDOS on the cleaning, it looks fabulous!

Please tell us all where you got the wooden slide bin toy organizer. It looks wonderful. My daughter is like your boys and a total MESS maker, we need something like that in her room. :) I tried to "google" up some results but could not find anything, the only thing I could come close to was a company called Little Colorado on Amazon. Their stuff was close but no cigar, so please if you get time let us know! Thanks!

Cookie said...

Wow! What a difference! Any chance you want to come clean up after my 2 boys ;)

Anonymous said...

You are FAR too nice! When I go into a room like that, I do it with a big garbage bag.

"Mom, where's my ____?"

"I don't know, maybe it got thrown away"

Sadly, I don't get asked that question too often . . . the items are never missed!!

Things of real value (as opposed to weird stuff boys keep) may only be hidden, not actually in the garbage.

Lori

Lisa said...

You are not the only mom with messy kids. My kid's rooms look like your boy's but think in pink and purple. (they are girls) Yes, girls have messy rooms, and I clean it up every 2 weeks or so. And they actually THANK me! I know they try to keep it clean. But you know how kids are, so busy with playing, and forgets...

Dave S. said...

Gee Dawn, I don't see any problem here.

Dave

Tracey said...

Oh, you've been to my house. Those pictures look like mine.
Kuddos to you for cleaning it up...I'd just decide to "do it tomorrow"

Katie Skiff said...

I have that same problem!! And it only take 2 seconds, I swear to mess it up!! UGH!! I hate the putting clean clothes in the dirty clothes!! I HATE laundry!! Thanks for letting me know this isn't so unusual!

Jennifer in Wisconsin said...

Did you get the bins from IKEA? Seriously, 1/2 hour to clean their room, how many bags of garbage did you take out? As for the orange peels, maybe they like the citrus scent to mask the other "boy" odors. :)

Kim said...

I love how you aren't afraid to show us the messes of life!! It makes all of us other human (non-superwoman) moms feel better. We need more honest moms like you who are keeping it real! I love your blog and look at it often. I can relate with so much of what you post!

Tracy said...

Are you sure you weren't in MY boys room? Seriously we have the same car rug that is always covered in toys. At least your kids keep the hard as rock poptarts in their room, yesterday I found one in my room that one of them had shoved in my nightstand drawer. I'm glad to see that I do not have the only slob boys.

tommygirl said...

O.k. Seriously those pics made my back twinge, and that isn't good. I have one very MESSY daughter, and one neat freak daughter, but boys take the cake I guess. Nothing like seeing pics like that to keep me from wanting a boy.

My Semblance of Sanity said...

THIRTY MINUTES??!!!!!
Are you serious??!!!
Where do you hide your cape?

You did a fabulous job!!!!!!

Now, how long will it stay that way? You should do a day-by-day photo of its slow and untimely demise!!!

Willow Tree said...

My mother took everything out of my room but my bed and my clothes for a week once. (I had a lot of your before pictures moments!) I never forgot that lesson; I did the same thing with my son this year and voila, instant turn around. It also helped us weed out the things he didn't really need in his room anymore, taught him about giving to others and he learned respect for his things/ space.

I applaud you that it only took 30 minutes to pick up! And is that the Veggie Tales Ship?? My kids are huge fans, lol. Keep up the great work!

Blessings, Carolynn

Amy said...

So, how does the room sharing work at your house? Who shares a room with who? I am assuming that was Jackson and Clay's room? Does Austin get his own room?? Where will Brooklyn go when you ever get her out of your room? ;o)

Diane said...

Where did you get those awesome wood shelves with the plastic bins? My son needs them in the worst way!

Marit said...

I hope those were Spanish Clementine peels!! Makes you glad they can peel them themselves, huh? Too bad they can't throw them away themselves. My children suffer from the same impairment.

LOL in Idaho

Jennifer said...

Aahhh ... I know how you feel about the cluttered floor. I wish I could pay someone to do it for me!

Dianne said...

I am pretty sure you must have gotten the storage bins from IKEA. Right? (Love their stuff!)

For anyone interested:
Frames are at: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/childrens_ikea/12020/

Storage boxes are at: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/childrens_ikea/12022/

Anonymous said...

Yup kids are messy! LOL

But the real question is where did you get the wooden organization unit with the buckets?? That's genius for small spaces!

* TONYA * said...

Wow. Impressive. I could have written this post. My 2 boys love living in filth too.

What I want to know is why the big one can make a chai latte and leave mess on 3 kitchen counters, a microwave and cupboard and a drawer open and when I ask him to clean it up, he can't see what is wrong. Ugh.

I heart Ikea storage.

Julie Sturgeon said...

It's in the DNA. My husband claimed the second bedroom as his office and it looks far worse than what your boys have done. Yes, he leaves dirty underwear on the floor.

Don't ask me why he has dirty underwear on the floor of his office. I don't think any of us want to know.

jodi-mother of six said...

As a mother of six kids in seven years (all adults now), I've seen this and more. I had several solutions...none of which were 100% effective.
One was, twice a year (Christmas vacation and summer), we'd spend a day in each room...cleaning, hoeing out, tossing out, organizing, checking sizes, giving away etc.

Another was just closing the door. Not allowing the door to EVER be left open. Smells multiply quickly with that one!!

Another was not allowing them back into the room except to sleep.

And many more...as I said, none 100% effetive.

As I muse back on it all now, it's just a stage they all have to go through, I think. Eventually, they got their stuff together and became somewhat neat. As adults with their own homes/space, they function just fine and I'm not embarrassed to have raised them!

Thinking on it all, I realized over the years that everything a wife/mother/homemaker does all day long, gets "undone" almost immediately. You cook a meal..someone eats it and it's gone. You mop a floor and someone walks on it with muddy feet and it's gone. You wash clothes and someone wears them and they get dirty again. Your work is a continual cycle of re-do, re-work, re-clean. It's no wonder we yell sometimes and have fits!!

Hang in there, it does get better...and all those muddy feet and sticky fingers grow up and move away and you miss them!!!
And then they tell stories about YOU!!!

Kathryn said...

I don't usually blog, but this just struck a cord with me. My three boys are exactly the same way (minus the food, because food stays in the kitchen!)! They just don't see messy the same way that I see messy!

Usually it's a forced "clean up" day where they have to spend all day on a Saturday cleaning their roooms to meet "Mom's idea of clean."

geelizzie said...

Wow, that took me back to when my son was young, his room always looked like that. The best part was when he forgot that he left bait fish in his tackle box and the room smelled like death for a week while we cleaned and searched the entire room for the smell every night after work and school. The smell was so bad that he had to sleep on the couch.

angeleyes Blue said...

My mm had a box. She would announce to everyone that she had her box and was going around and picking everything up. She would then put the box in the garage. It would always depend on her mood to when you would get your stuff back. Sometimes it was immediately sometimes it would be held in the garage for a week. Me and my sisters learned to pick things up when mom started with the box.

Have a great weekend everyone :)

Gretchen said...

Have you ever heard of or tried this: http://www.housefairy.org/

I haven't but saw it yesterday somewhere else. Anyway, it's a nationwide problem--kids of America are LAZY! Mine included!!

Rachel said...

You know what cracks me up... is that lonely USB cord sitting there with all the food scraps :)

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh about the "clean folded clothes in the hamper" part of your post. My kids each did that once. That was the day I taught them how to use the washer and dryer. I never washed their clothes again (except dress clothes, so they didn't ruin them). I just thought it was the ultimate slap in my face after I bothered to sort, wash, dry, fold and put their clothes in their rooms.
My daughter was 12, and my 2 sons were 11 and 10. They fussed, but they sure learned a lesson!

Robin said...

All that only took you a 1/2 hour?!?! You're good!!!!

Table for Seven said...

I don't have time to read through the other comments so this may have already been said, but I'll say it anyway. Just in case.

About five years ago, I released myself from the hell that you're living in right now.

I too, had bins and shelves and cubbies and every manor of sorting system available to harness the madness. But alas, I was ALWAYS cleaning and sorting them mess.

UNTIL I discovered John Rosemonde's books. In them I discovered that kids don't play with their toys. (HELLO. I already knew that.) He suggested that you get rid of it all and that is exactly what I did. ALL OF IT. Except for cars and Legos and Lincoln Logs.

It's been five years and we haven't looked back. It's been so freeing. And so much nicer. It's amazing to see their creativity take over. Now I don't think it's the same for girls, but I don't have any of those.

Enjoy the cleanliness while it lasts. But as you and I know all to well, it doesn't take long.

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

Aren't you tempted to throw all of their stuff out, give them two outfits, and put locks on the kitchen doors?
Of course, I only have two kids and my house looks like that every day. I found a banana peel on the fireplace today and neither of the kids would claim it. "Gee Mom, I have no idea how that banana peel got there. Maybe it's yours?"

Kitti said...

If they do it again start taking stuff away. Serious. Like whatever is on the floor, take it and put it up. The next time somethings left on the floor or out of place, take it. Eventually they'll want it back (but they have to earn it back by keeping the floor clean) and if they don't ask for it back they didn't need it anyway and you can give it to goodwill =)
My dad did that to me when I was younger, it worked!

Jessica said...

Where did you get the carpet for cars? That is really cool!

Lesley said...

I admire your patience!
Seriously though, my OH was allowed to make a mess when a child and his sisters had to clear it up. And now I own the most untidy husband in the world! *deep joy*.

My son on the other hand was trained to clear up (Ok he does have a feminine side), but his own house is now spotless and tidy. Even the tins in his cupboards are lined up like soldiers with the labels all facing the same way.

And I agree its much easier when you only have one child to contend with as I did.

Have you threatened Nanny 911 LOL!

Vicki said...

Ok you are amazing! Super cool that you cleaned it so fast!

SSO: I only saw 2 beds. Do the boys share or does one sleep in another room?

Anonymous said...

I am going to sign this annoymous so that my son and daughter-in-law do not read this but I have to tell you that time and the right person has a way of straightening boys out. My son (I only had one son) was every bit as messy as your boys. I didn't teach him to do his laundry until he was a senior in high school but it didn't work because he brought his laundry home from college. I tried to teach him to cook ... some. He did learn to pack his belongings because I left that up to him early on for his bazillion youth trips. But teaching him to clean was never anything I had much sucess with. He was a slob.

But dispite his dirty clothes and cluttered dorm room, he met a lovely girl in college and they got married shortly after graduation and SHE, yes SHE had him trained to be neat in short order! He picks up the house before she gets home and everything has a place. Their home is beautifully decorated and neat and looks like a magazine. ... No, they don't have any children yet. We'll see how relaxed the standards get when children arrive.

But know that they will train for the right person (not you) ... later ... when they don't live with you anymore... if you let them live to grow up.

PS One time I put my son's goldfish in the garage because my son would not change the poor fishes water. I had threatened and given him a time frame and told him what would happen. I left the fish in the garage and he forgot about the fish in the garage. One day he remembered the fish was out there and was aghast that it had been out there for weeks? or months? I don't know. It was winter. He changed the water and the fish lived for several more months. The fish had done the winter gold fish thing and hibernated or slowed his metabolism or something and was still alive. LOL

The Masked Mommy said...

I absolutely LOVE this post! My blog is full of outrageous before pictures, and I only have 2 kids! But... my husband is one of 7, and despite HIS mother's best efforts, he is totally disgusting to live with! A real slob. Your future daughter-in-laws will understand when they have children. Now, when the kitchen is covered in cocoa puffs, I just pretend the toddler did it while I clean it up (even though I really know it was my "big kid" ;-)

mommeeof9 said...

If I have to clean their rooms I can do whatever I want with the stuff I pick up. Clothes I usually wash and give back. Toys, I either put them in the attic until most of them are gone and they miss them or I throw them in a bag and pitch them in the trash. I have a friend with 7 kids. She sweep everything into the center of their rooms and gives them 10 minutes to pick out anything they think is important. Then she throws anything that is not clothes or something of hers like dishes in the trash. Her kids belieive her that she will throw stuff out and usually pick up as soon as she tells them to.

HerstoryGirl said...

Seriously? This post could have been written by ME! And I have three GIRLS!

Actually, that's not fair. My oldest has become VERY helpful in getting the house back in shape & even she is amazed at how quickly the other two can destroy it. ;)
I feel your pain!

TnT's Mom said...

I loved the "weird stuff boys keep" description. My boys are almost 8 and 4 and they have the oddest things stashed in their totes and cubbies. The 8 year old is the worst and I am afraid he is corrupting the little guy, who used to be much better about letting me get rid of the odds and ends!

Thankfully, I haven't found too many food items...the random M and M or fruit snack and crumbs occasionally. I was thinking about how you mentioned Jackson getting food when he is half asleep...do you think he stashes the peels and half eaten food while he is half asleep as well...not that that would explain why he doesn't throw it away later when he sees it...but those are some really odd places for food.

I make my oldest clean his room every few weeks, but I try to help him so he doesn't get completely overwhelmed. The little guy doesn't really have the cleaning/organization concept yet...we are just happy that he is starting to help with picking up toys after playing with them.

Paula "sixkidsmom" said...

wow, you found my kids rooms also. I've learned to "supervise" the cleaning. I sit on the bed with a broom and make small piles and give directions to pick up and put up. Seems to work. only do it about every two weeks. usually they can make a path to the bed in between. We also find pop tarts, fruit snacks, clementine and bannana peels hidden behind the entertainment center in their tv room. Last week I actually found spoons and forks back there. I told them no wonder it smelled like a dump in there. LOL

Rhen @yestheyareallmine said...

We have 6 kids in less than 1500 square feet. I feel ya honey!! :)

Anonymous said...

A half an hour???? Dawn, I swear - you ARE Supermom! That would've taken me the better part of a day to get done. I'm extremely impressed!

Donna in PA :)

Feisty Irish Wench said...

I too tired of the clean laundry back into the hamper out of laziness. I told them to get rid of the stuff they didn't like, wear, want, fit into, etc, no questions asked. Then I made them start doing their own darn laundry. Best move I ever made with them. One less thing I have to handle, one more thing they've learned for that all important set of "life skills" they need. If they have no clean socks, "oh well, I am not going to bail you out of that pal." They tried that a time or two in the beginning, but I stood my ground. They haven't tried it since. I have better things to do with my time, than their laundry. For instance, I have blogs to read.

Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

Yup. Still glad I have girls. Stiiillllllll glad.

Lucille said...

Well I will certainly be back on Sunday to hear the answers to all these questions! My, my! :)

I would also like to know where the stuff went and how you did that in half an hour? Seriously lady you have way too much energy! :)

On another note, please take the 5 minutes to check out that fairy site that someone mentioned. I need to know if it is the major sinus infection that is clouding my judgement - but that site was BEYOND WEIRD and really funny! I thought it was a SNL spoof! No kid I know would listen to that crazy, scary lady for more than 1 minute! She has a secret list she gives Santa? She leaves things in your room? Bizarre!

Have a good night and a great day off tomorrow - I assume your kids have no school?

FreeSpirit said...

I'm not going to preach...BUT...Dawn, baby, you have to get ahold of yourself. LOL Stop making it 'so easy' on them.

I like what Louisa said "My mum eventually after many threats went in and put everything in black sacks and they went out to the bin. I was completely horrified and instantly cured of my slovenly ways!"

You said that Jackson walked right passed you with a granola bar...to his room...after YOU cleaned...and dug out food!?! You should have beat him in his attempt to get back to bed. (I'm kidding.)

OK. So, now that's out, I can say, I was the worst teenage filth collector and my mom cried over my room at one point, but never really made me do anything about it. And you know what, I'm STILL a burden to my husband.

KICK their butts so their wives won't have to. Seriously, throw away crap that gets left on the floor (or at least put it up and see if they notice). Let Brooklyn have the tools and give the dang tool bench away to the needy.

I don't know. I'm just talking out of my butt, here. You don't even have to post this.

You are a wonderful mom and a gem. These boys will look back one day and be so incredibly in love with you for how much you cared for them. One day they will wrap their arms around you and say, "Thanks Mom" and somehow, it will be enough.

Mom's got it tough some times.

Shellie said...

That is so eerily spookily similar to my boys' rooms that I feel like I'm n the twilight zone right now.

Candi said...

Gee whilikers that looks familiar! I had 3 kids. My 2 boys were much neater than my girl. Once they were school age, when I "had enough" of their messes I refused to clean up after them. I would spend the week warning them that my broomstick was arriving on Saturday and they knew what that meant. A friend who worked for a moving company would bring me 3 fair sized leftover boxes anytime I requested them. Each box got labeled with a child's name. Come Saturday morning I would have them draw straws and start in the shortest straw's room and pile anything out of place in that child's box. The other 2 would frantically try to pick up everything they could, but it didn't take me that long cause I literally dumped everything together into the box without sorting. Then I put each box in my bedroom and IF their room was clean the following Saturday, they had earned the right to retrieve 1 item from their box. If their room wasn't clean I cleared anything out of place and added it to their box and they got nothing. After a certain number of Saturdays (usually 4-5) I had each one come into my room with me and go through their box. Laundry went in one pile, "keeper" books, toys, misc. in another, and things they claimed to care less about went in another. The "keep" pile went right back in the box till they consistently kept their room clean for an agreed number of weeks. The "other" pile went to Salvation Army or similar charities. After a few times of doing this they knew I was serious and they really started taking better care. I kept the boxes right up till they hit their teens, at which point I told them they had a choice - keep their rooms clean or lose whatever was out of place because they were certainly old enough to pick up after themselves. This worked fairly well - though I did allow them to talk me into keeping a few things that were favs with stipulation that there would be no second chance if I had to pick it up again. Sometimes I cringed at some of the things they didn't care about, and a few times I kept things I couldn't bare to part with because I knew they would regret it later. I even gave them back some of their real treasures as gifts once they thought they were gone forever. Now they keep up with their homes better than I do mine. I can't take credit for this idea - it was my sister's method with my niece (an only child), whose room was always so neat when we would visit. %)

Kelly said...

Can you puh-lease come to my house and do that to my boys' room?? 30 minutes....wow!! I so need you to come visit! LOL Oh, and those shelves look like IKEA... are they? I sooooo miss IKEA: we don't have it in NZ. Which is really warm and summery at teh moment... that's enough to get you on the plane here, right?! :D

akhughes said...

wow, I can't believe how quickly you transformed that space! you could be on a tv show! my MIL frequently tells me about my husband "I swear I trained him better than that" :)

Michelle said...

Wow. I want you to come to MY house for thirty minutes ;) That's impressive!

And I have to ask about the globe toy sitting on top of the tool bench. We got that for Christmas a couple of years ago and NO one. I mean NO one has played with it. No one of any age enjoys it. I've tried it, and it's not very accurate, which makes it hard to do for anyone. Do you guys play with it at all? When I do my clean sweep, I think I'm going to include that one!

Rebecca said...

Seems a lot of people are wondering the same thing I am - where'd you get the bin system?!? It just might save my life & my sanity. I'm guessing IKEA. Share your secrets, oh wise one!

Chrissy Short said...

My boys just last week had to get rid of their "minifridge" (which was supposed to be for WATER ONLY) because either it died and or something IN IT died. They carried it out through my whole house- without realizing it had a filter on the back and was leaking... Girl - I'm telling you my house stunk for THREE DAYS!!!

Jen said...

Hey, their dresser looks identical to my dresser, except theirs' is white and mine is just wood! Mine used to belong to my great-grandmother.

Charlotte said...

My mom would've gotten mad at us if we'd left an entire poptart out like that! She got angry when we didn't finish things off because it was a waste of food/money.

What are the weird little tubes that have glitter and some sort of liquid (it looks like a gel actually) with bubbles in it? In the picture with the orange and the tubs.

Re: Jackson eating at night - boys!! And their fast metabolisms!! I can only assume that either girls don't go through that stage, or that I personally missed it, because I've never been able to eat a lot and not gain weight from it!

And you did great with their room! It looks super now. :)

My mom always used to clean my room, but eventually she gave up on it. Soon after that, I started cleaning it myself and now I'm kind of a neat freak!

Anonymous said...

Hey! How the heck did you get into MY house?! LOL!
Shirley

Anonymous said...

I have to say - I LOVE your honesty on the "realities" of motherhood. Refreshing.

Genn in Ottawa, ON

Patois said...

Now, if you could just keep them out of the room so it would stay that nice!

Kathy said...

Are those plastic test tubes and bible buddies from the PowerLab VBS program? My kids have the same thing in their toybox (or on the floor or on my kitchen counter top, or between the cushions of the couch...) And we have the same rug to drive cars on too. My kids' rooms are cluttered messes too. Only they come by it naturally, because their dad is a clutter-holic. Our house is always a mess and I say there are 5 people making messes in this house and only 1 cleaning it up, so you do the math!

CTBsmom said...

I too really want to know where you got the storage bins!! I really think you need to let us know Dawn! I've got a 1 yr old and a 2 yr old both boys that I need something, anything to put all their stuff in!!

Dianne said...

So when did my boys move into your house?

And if my boys have moved in with you, who the heck are these short people raiding my refrigerator?

Seriously, it takes me two hours to clean when their room gets that bad. I am impressed!

ShellyBlake said...

So I can do a similar transformation in my son's room too...but I'm curious - what do you do w/ the stuff? Do ya fill that garbage bag & toss it? Or do you find a place to put it (put it away)? It's no wonder we live in a cluttered mess, I can even throw away my kid's stuff! (but I can straighten it up & make it look better!)

danni asffee said...

Hi Dawn...
I'm so impressed that you managed to clean up that mess in 30 min!!! It took me more than 1 hour to clean up my room that looks exactly like that when friday comes! grown up doesnt mean we will be tidy all the time right? hahaha.....

Vivian M said...

You are good. I still can't get over at how fast you were able to organize that mess! Maybe your next book should be about organizational tips and how to declutter your kids' rooms.

Ada said...

Dawn, you may want to check out www.housefairy.org. I joined it and it helps the kids learn to keep their room clean. And, it's only $15 for 2 years so no big expense if it doesn't work for you.

What she does, is she's created the persona of the House Fairy, which she used to use in her family when her children were kids. The House Fairy is Santa's sister and her job is to check kids' rooms at a random time once a week. If they pass inspection, she leaves a little treat (like the Tooth Fairy) but if not she just leaves her "fairy dust" (craft sparkles) and a disappointed note. There are a couple of free videos on the site to give you the idea and if you subscribe there's dozens more that you can let your kids watch. It's meant for children 2-10 years old, but your oldest boy may go along with it to get the treats.

Cheryl said...

Wow, your transformation of the boys' room is practically miraculous! My younger daughter's room used to look like that all through high school (minus the food), and then she grew up, went to college, and turned into a neat freak! Now she cannot stand for anything to be on the floor or out of place or dusty or dirty. Strange.

Anonymous said...

The bins came from IKEA

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