Why Teenage Girls Never Clean Their Messy Rooms
Teenager is to Messy Room as Prisoner is to Orange Jumpsuit
If you're the parent of a teenager, now or in the past, then most likely you've had numerous fights or at least given an exasperated lecture to try to get your son or daughter to clean his or her room. Maybe you continue the effort constantly or occasionally, or maybe you've given up arguing and content yourself with a loud sigh or dirty look every time you pass your teenager's room.
Well, I don't know how to make a teenager clean his or her room. If you're looking for tips on how to make her clean up, I don't have them. I can, however, offer some explanation as to why teenage girls have such messy rooms. I'm sure many teenage boys also have this problem, but I can only speak to the female mindset.
Even though I'm no longer a teenager, I will use the communal "we" to describe the actions and thoughts of myself and my almost-peers. Because, even though I've passed into my twenties, I still don't clean my room, and I don't do it for the same reasons I haven't for the past ten years or so.
Reason Number 1: Too much stuff, not enough stuff-holders
Teenage girls like to buy things. Whether we enjoy the act of shopping or not, the fact remains that we like to have lots of stuff. In this situation, it would be particularly apt to apply the proverb of "Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs." No, we don't eat more food than we can fit in our stomachs, but we buy more stuff than we can fit in our rooms.
Or, if we can manage to fit everything into our rooms, often we don't manage to find a place to put our belongings that's not the floor or the desk. We don't have enough organizational tools for all of the stuff that we accumulate. So, perhaps I do have a tip for clutter-crazy parents: Buy your daughter some more storage units. A chest of drawers, a book shelf, even an extra crate or endtable. If our stuff has a designated home, the stuff is less likely to end up in a pile on the headboard of the bed.
Part of the excuse for our stuff often having no home is that really, a teenage girl's room is the only place in the house that is truly hers to put stuff in. Which brings us to the next reason...
Reason 2: Ownership
When we live in our parents' house, there isn't much that truly belongs to us. Parents often use this fact to their advantage: "As long as you live in my house, you follow my rules!" "When YOU pay the mortgage, YOU can do whatever YOU want!"
Not that I find fault with wanting things to be the way you choose in your own space. Exactly the opposite; I agree completely. Which is why we feel that things should be the way WE want in the only room that belongs to us. True, we don't pay the bills (in most cases), but we do spend a large part of our time in that room, and it plays host to most of our belongings.
A girl's room is not just a dumping room for her stuff. It's the one place in the house that she can be herself, that she can relax and not have to worry about following other people's rules. Her messy room is an outpouring of her personality and of her busy life. It's where she doesn't have to pretend to be neat if she's not.
Reason Number 3: Different priorities
While parents may put cleanliness and orderliness near the top of their priority lists, (most) teenage girls do not. And it's really hard to get a girl (or anyone!) to do something when she feels like she has more important things to get done. Like homework. Or play rehearsal. Or tennis practice. Or shopping. Or sleeping. No one wants to feel like she is wasting her time.
Reason Number 4: Futility
Futile: incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless
If it's hard to do something that isn't high on the priority list, it's even harder to do something when you know it's a pointless effort. We know that our rooms are going to get messy again, probably very soon, so it's quite difficult to force ourselves to clean them. Why do something if you're just going to have to repeat yourself a week or a month later?
Reason Number 5: Sleep
When we come home from school, or work, or whatever has occupied our time all day, the first thing many of us want to do is drop everything and rest. This leaves little time for cleaning.
If a teenage girl isn't much into napping, the "sleep" excuse still stands, just in a less direct way. When we come home, we dump everything we are carrying on our beds and immediately go do something mind-numbing like eating or watching TV. When the evening ends, and it's time for bed, we return to our room and, lo and behold, everything is still on the bed. At this point, we are too tired to put everything away in its proper place, if there is a proper place. So, it all goes on the floor. Or the desk. Or the headboard. See a vicious cycle here? If this pattern continues every day, the pile grows every day, and we become even less inclined to pick anything up.
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