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Confession: I Am Raising a Total Slob

Yesterday I was about to take Jayden to school when I noticed that he was wearing dirty socks. Unfortunately that’s a common problem with him, so I went to his room to grab a clean pair in the interest of saving time. Opened his sock drawer and there was a mouse in there.

It was almost funny – the mouse kind of flailed about for a second, then realized it had nowhere to go and flopped over like it was dead. But then it wasn’t so funny because I had to reach right beside it to get a pair of socks. Plus I really didn’t want to leave it in there, but what was I going to do? Pick it up with my bare hands?

As I relayed this story to Jayden in the car, he made what I like to call his Confession Face; it’s kind of a half grimace, half look of terror. Usually this happens when he’s about to tell me something he knows I won’t like, so he’s afraid for his life. (Or at least I like to think so, considering I’m the meanest mom on the planet.)

“When you get back home, you should probably look under my bed.” He wouldn’t even attempt eye contact.

“OMG, why do I need to look under your bed?”

“Just do it, Mom. Don’t make me explain right now.”

So I went home, pulled up the bedskirt, and nearly came unglued. This child had TONS of food-related debris under his bed. Dirty dishes, half-empty Dorito bags, a bunch of gummy bears…. And I wondered why there was a mouse in there? Obviously I missed the grand opening of the vermin buffet going on underneath the bed.

Teenage Boys are Disgusting

I wish I could say that Jayden is normally a very neat and organized child, but I’d be lying. He’s very OCD about certain things; cleanliness just isn’t one of those things. (Sound familiar? Except I do not leave random food all over the place. EVER.)

Why did I not receive my copy of the “Boys are Nasty Handbook” when he was born? Was I supposed to just know that he would wear the same clothes for 3 days if I let him, or that hygiene would become a daily battle requiring death threats? I thought a boy would be easier to raise than a girl, and for the most part I was right, but no one prepared me for the fact that my child would be skanky.

I really don’t know how to deal with this issue. I am already publicly humiliating him by publishing this post. I have also promised that I will chop off his pinky fingers if I ever find food in his room again. Most disturbing to me, though, is the fact that he knew all that junk was in his room and it didn’t bother him! WTF?

Does This Get Better?

By the time you read this post, hopefully the mouse will be dead. (Where’s Specter when I need him?) I just hope there aren’t any other creepy crawlies taking up residence in my house. Also, buying mousetraps is kind of embarrassing, as I learned yesterday.

Anyway, I really need someone to tell me that my son will not be gross for the rest of his life. More importantly, I need to know what to do to prevent this from becoming a habit for him. Should there be some kind of punishment involved, other than forbidding him to eat in his room? Is it acceptable to beat him? (Mostly kidding on that one.) How do you get a teenage boy to care about things when he totally doesn’t care?

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. I hope it gets better! Me and my friends always joke because we are the dirty ones, whereas our boyfriends/fiances/husbands are all the SUPER clean ones, and they've been like this since we were teenagers.

  2. Oh, jeez. I was going to attempt to make you feel better with tales of my brothers' antics, but it sounds like they're in line with Jayden on the food stuff. Matt once left a half-eaten bowl of cereal hidden in his bedroom. Mom discovered it after the milk curdled and the stink was unbearable.

    Matt also once hid a pair of soiled underwear (yes, he shit his pants) behind a bean bag in his bedroom. The stink led Mom to those too. I never understood that one. Why would he not just bury them in the trashcan? Disgusting.

    Mom tried not letting them eat in their rooms, but I think that leads to them sneaking it in and hiding it because they can't openly carry it back to the kitchen. And Matt is 19 years old now and just as disgusting by Mom's account, sorry to tell ya. Well… My comment is just depressing and not helpful at all. Moving on…

  3. bluecollarworkman says:

    Well I can say that I was a messy teenager. I just didn't care. I remember I almost never brushed my teeth, I always wore dirty clothes, becuase eh, what's the point? I think my mom gave up trying to help me out with those things, and only insisted that once every couple days I bring all the dirty dishes from my room down to the kitchen. I complained cuz it was a major drag, but it kept her off my back. So maybe don't worry so much about him wearing dirty socks and make a nighttime ritual of him going into his room and bringing out all the dishes/wrappers? I have to do that with my oldest daughter right now. After she brushes her teeth, it's dishes in bedroom cleaning time. Haha, hopefully she grows out of it. I only sorta grew out of it. I can't say if Jayden will!

  4. I was never allowed to eat anywhere but the kitchen/dining room as a kid so I never had the option to leave food in my room. Maybe that would work?

  5. "How do you get a teenage boy to care about things when he totally doesn’t care?"

    Former teenage boy here – you don't. We're painful like that. Then again, we don't require hours upon hours of affection every day, and you won't have to spend a full two weeks shopping for prom dresses with us, so it kind of evens out.

    I like Lance's idea of no food in the room. Seems like that would get to the root of the problem.

  6. My parents never let me or my brother have food in our rooms….a luxury I would reinstate now that I'm an adult if my boyfriend would let me..but alas no. I think he'll start caring once there is a little girl involved. Or once a mouse runs across his face in the night. Maybe we could devise a plan to let that happen.

  7. Make him watch an episode of Hoarders and ask him if he wants to live like that haha. I think its kind of normal to be a little disgusting when you are a teenage boy. I know I wasn't the cleanest boy growing up. Maybe tell him that he can eat in his room as long as he cleans up nightly and if that doesn't work tell him that he isn't allowed to eat in there anymore. Good luck.

  8. Been there – it got better when he got a girlfriend – haha! I'll never forget the time in 9th grade where he was getting an award at a breakfast before school. So of course we were in a rush to get out of the house earlier than usual. As we are walking into school I finally had a minute to take a look at what he was wearing…a ratty old sweatshirt where the cuff on the sleeve was literally in shreds. I was mortified and yelled at him all the way into the building.

  9. So maybe I'm the first person to tell you that it gets better? At least it did with my son…when he was in his early teen years, well actually until about the age of 19, he was HORRIBLE. Nastiness in every sense of the word, but then it changed when he wanted to go on a trip and I paid for his airline ticket – he promised to clean house every week for five months (it was about a $500 ticket). I wasn't sure it would work, but he held true and became a cleaning maniac (well ok, not a maniac, but seriously crazy better – it was the idea of owing the debt I think). Interestingly enough I had a bigger problem with the food in the bedroom with my daughter. I'd just go in daily and do a sweep of dirty dishes because she was ridiculous about bringing them back out. Oh, and I hate to say this…but sometimes when the boys get interested in the girls they start doing something more about the hygiene. Best of luck!

  10. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can't make him care (I have three gross boys). I finally got my oldest to brush his teeth regularly by telling him the girls will think he's gross if he doesn't. But my middle son is more like Jayden and he doesn't care about girls yet. You just have to make him do things so he's mostly clean. Mine would take a shower but come out of the bathroom with dry hair and claim that he toweled it dry really well. Riiight. After making him reshower a few times, he at least wets his hair. I'm not so sure he's graduated to soap yet. That's a work in progress.

    And my favorite punishment for teenagers is slave for a day. Making a lazy teenager work all day is torture. Even better if you can make them do chores for free that you would normally pay them to do. My oldest mows the lawn for free on occasion. He also cleaned my car (inside and out) one weekend. Mmm. My car is dirty right now. Maybe I need to set him up. Kidding…maybe.

  11. I certainly hope you make HIM clean it up, to your specifications! Maybe he won't be so grossed out, but at least you won't have to handle it on his behalf.

    I was scared straight once, in my teenage years, by a small infestation of silverfish in my bedroom. Looking back, this was probably less about my messy habits and more about the weather (and my bookshelves — silverfish love eating book glue), but I was TERRIFIED and FLIPPED OUT and cleaned up all my dirty clothes, etc. in record time. I will never be the neatest kid on the block (and neither will my partner, so the apartment is sometimes a wreck), but there are NO BUGS aside from the occasional spider.

  12. Not just boys. I helped my daughter clean out her room last week and was surprised the things we found behind, under her bed and hidden behind bookcases. My son was also the same way. I wouldn't even go into his room it was so messy and when he moved out and I had a clean out his room to turn into my office Lord the things I found.

  13. Anne @ Unique Gifter says:

    Uhoh… I got stuck with a late twenties spouse version of this… so I can't guarantee it gets better. Pisses me off royally, all the freakin time!

  14. Oh, wow, Andrea! I was raised by a woman who did NOT play. The first time she caught me with trash and garbage under my bed would have been the last time! In fact, cleaning the house and keeping it neat became my responsibility at around age 10 or 11. If I didn't do things to her satisfaction, I got an ass-chewing that usually lasted for hours. I towed the line.
    Do you pay Jayden to do chores? Pay him to clean his room and if it doesn't pass weekly inspection, no money. If that doesn't work, revoke some privilege that he'd really miss. Good luck!

  15. plantingourpennies says:

    One of the girls at my office is going through this with her sophomore in high school son. He alternates between horrible BO and using WAAAAY too much AXE body spray. Apparently he's pretty noxious to be around most of the time due to the odors… she's trying to teach him that neither of those is a good plan if he wants to get a girlfriend anytime soon. =)

  16. EW boys are SO GROSS! There, I said it. There's no other option than going all super-cleaning-crazy-mom on his BUTT. Ugh.

  17. Oh man, I have no suggestions for you. My sister is about the same age and while there isn't food hidden… she is a SLOB.

  18. Well, as a parent of 2, all is fine with both the girl and boy…though those teenage years have yet to happen. Hopefully the good fortune continues!

    I think most guys are simply not as neat when it comes to things as most Moms probably want, or perhaps they're just hard to understand. I'm sure as a Dad of a daughter, there will be things that I just won't get and wondered why there wasn't a manual that explained certian behavior. Just the way things go I guess!

    My approach has been to ban food in the room. I wasn't allowed to as a kid, and don't want to now. Though in college, when away from parental supervision, I quickly degenerated into semi-neandrethal status like most other guys.

    Best of luck with it going forward.

  19. I don't know if I should be angry at Jay for him being a slob or I should laugh because it is sort of funny. I agree with Tie the Money Knot, banning food in the room might help. I banned food in our bedroom. I even banned beer, wine or any drink (even water) in there! 🙂 And we don't have kids.

  20. My messy son got a little bit better at about 19yrs old. When he was about 15, I got tired of the battle, it was making our life miserable, so I told him if he couldn't keep his room clean, he's moving down the basement where neither I nor any visitors could see it or smell it and the only requirement I had was that he clear a path so emergency personnel could get through his room if they ever needed to.

    For some reason, food down there wasn't much of an issue. That was 5 years ago. He's 20 now. Still in the basement (pays $100 a month rent now). Now the rule is if I can smell your room from the living room on the main floor, it's time to change your sheets and do some laundry. At 19 yrs old, when it got a little bit better, I think he became more conscious of what his friends thought about it.

    The personal hygiene got much much better at 19. He actually showers & brushes his teeth now, but what in the heck is it with boys wearing the same socks for 3 days?! I swear they ALL do that!

  21. kimateyesonthedollar says:

    I have absolutelty no experience with teenage boys except for when my nephews come to visit, and they smell and don't take showers unless you make them. From friends, I've heard they don't care until they get a girlfriend. But I don't know. Have you ever been in a men's restroom? Not that I frequent them, but we have one in our office. Grown men that still pee on the floor and walls doesn't say much for improvement in cleanliness as they get older. Good luck. At least it wasn't a rat!

  22. I'm a girl, and I was a bit of a slob as a teenager. There were definitely used dishes taking up residence in my room on a regular basis.
    If you're looking for creative ways to crack down on a teenage boy, I suggest watching Malcolm in the Middle for inspiration. I just started watching a few old episodes on Netflix and man, that Mom is tough! She needs to be though, she's got four boys to keep in line.

  23. Canadianbudgetbinder says:

    Kids will be kids right. I was never allowed to eat anywhere but the kitchen growing up. Every morning I had to make my bed when I got up and my door had to be left open. That was the way it was and looking back I'm glad I was taught that way. Oddly enough Mrs.CBB's parents were the same way so every morning we make our bed before we leave the room. I don't have any kids so I really am useless with any help here. Best of luck… Mr.CBB

  24. Been there done I feel your pain. What we did with my oldest son and middle daughter is one day while they were at school we took there bed completely apart and gave them sleeping bags. We also emptied all there closets and bureaus and gave them one out fit a day picked out by us(oh that was fun). We also confiscated anything they really enjoyed.

    Once they had cleaned the whole room…scrubbed the baseboards,….cleaned the carpets, walls, closets and everything else we let them have their stuff back. But with the warning that ANY eating in the room would mean they lost everything again. It never happen again and my youngest is a clean freak so I guess it trickled down


    • Omg I love your post and I was just saying I am close to doing this. In our situation we have bought a house so we went from renting a crappy house to this nice house. In our old house unfortunately we had mice now that could have been do to location (next to woods, and abandoned house) anyway it was gross. So when we moved we told all 3 kids there would be no more eating in your rooms. We have 2 girls 1 8 other 12 then a boy 16. I knew it would me hard habit at first to break but…I have had very little to none issues out of any of them but the 12 yr old girl. It is horrible. And this just might be my answer cause I will not go back to having or living in a home with mice.

  25. That's a toughie. I only had sisters and for the most part we were pretty clean. Boys are just gross, it's rare that a boy will actually clean without being told to. But who knows, maybe it's a teenage boy phase.

  26. bogofdebt says:

    Like I told you on twitter, we had this issue with both of my brothers. Eww. The worse was when the youngest one tried to tell us he was now delibrately leaving food out for his "family of pets". Yes, family.

  27. I suffer with my girl, so I can feel your pain. I can recommend "The Strong-Willed Child" to you with ideas of different ways to motivate a child which has helped. Of course, you're facing different challenges from your child. I have a strict rule of no food anywhere away from the table. I enforce this with a club, because of the bug attraction food has, so I haven't had issues with this particular fault. Good luck!

  28. My son is 14 and I can totally relate. I just left his messy disgusting room. He is not allowed to have food in there, but I can’t watch him 24/7. He sneaks it in, hides it. Pop cans all over. I found plates, bowls, glasses on the top shelf of his closet and a broken folding chair! I am furious. Dirty clothes, nothing in his dressers. His idea of putting his clothes away is dumbing the basket on his bed. I’m at my wits end.

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