Like many Circle of Moms members, Jesse says her three kids and husband are ruining her house. "No one else lifts a finger," she says. "I live with slobs. I'm clueless at how to get them all to put their dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor right in front of it. I am pulling my hair out."
Welcome to the world of moms whose kids and husbands seem to have forgotten that you don't have maids or servants on staff and are turning the house into a garbage dump. It's natural for moms to reach the end of their ropes and become desperate to end the messy mayhem, say Circle of Moms members like Julie W. who have employed creative SWAT-team tactics to get the job done. In her case, she cleaned her son's room, "then left him a bill for maid services that he had to pay." Turned out to be a win-win. "I enjoyed the extra money and he hated that I had touched and gone through all of his stuff," she says.
But the battle to end the clutter doesn't have to go to such extremes. For all of the moms who are tired of living with a family of slobs and are fed up with playing full-time pickup crew, Circle of Moms members are here to offer practical advice and three clever tips for dealing with a family that is messy.
Keep reading for real mom advice for combating slobs!
1. Clean It, or Chuck It
In Kelly's household, there's a new rule in place for her 9- and 11-year-old mess makers. She tells her kids that if she finds any of their clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper, they're being donated to charity. To get the point across, "You'll only have to donate one or two things," she says. "Or you could also try not washing anything not placed in the hamper until they run out."
Jana D. also employs the "clean it or it is gone" tactic for ending the clutter of toys and wet towels scattered across the house. "Tell kids you're throwing toys away and do it if they don't pick up," she says. She takes the throwing-away method to the next level with her husband and recommends other Circle of Moms members do the same. "Put your husband's clothes in garbage bags out in the garage and tell him 'here honey I sorted our laundry,'" she adds. She says, "It was drastic, but it works."
With teens, one of the easiest inspirations for getting them to clean up is to confiscate their cell phones, says June T. "Banning her phone works," she says. Kate B. also uses threats to take away favorite possessions to try to transition her three kids from leaving food and toys thrown around the house. "I tell my girls (ages, five, nine and 14) they have to have things straightened up by bed time and remind them at dinner," she says. "I have had to go as far as trashing a few items, but all in all it works. They do not like even the thought of their favorite toy or book being thrown out, and for the younger ones, everything is their favorite." For her older teenager, she says she will take away the MP3 player and cell phone for two days for "every hour I have to either clean or stand there and tell them what to clean and where to put it." It seems to be working. "My 14-year-old and my nine-year-old are fairly neat and responsible." She's still working on the 5-year-old.
When Maria W.'s kids leave the house a mess, she confiscates their stuff and declares a two-week time-out before it is returned. "We only eat and drink at the kitchen table which helps a lot," she says. "I tell my kids that they have to put everything away by end of day. Anything left out, I will collect and place in a two week 'time-out.' I do give them a warning and a second chance and on the rare occasion they lose a treasured item, such as a cell phone, it is a lesson that sticks."
2. Create Strict Rules
For many moms like Katherine C., the only way to end the slob-dom in her house was to treat cleaning like a stealth military operation. She assigned chore charts to her family members. "Time to buckle down," she says. "Everyone should be helping."
Shannon D. is a big proponent of chore charts, and she gives tickets — good to honor those who perform their chores, and bad to violators in her family. "A sticker chart sounds crazy but it works even for the older kids," she says. "When you see them do good give out a ticket that they get a pass from doing the chore and give tickets to the ones who won't help and make them do it."
3. Throw a Fit
Sometimes when moms have exhausted all tactics to get the slobs in their house to clean up the place, they just have to rely on the old tried-and-true: "Throw a fit," says Danielle M. "I threw a huge fit and when I was done my hubby looked at me and said 'How can I help?'" she says. They then sat down together and created a family chore chart. Now, it's his job to check to make sure the four kids have cleaned up their mess.
Chrissy C. throws the ultimate fit and goes on strike when her hubby and kids let the house get out of control. "I went on strike when I didn't get help," she says. "I would ask my oldest to empty the dishwasher and she would whine...I tell her fine, then I don't feel like making your dinner...and walk away." Her kids now know she means business, and "if they whine, I tell them I won't do something they want, and I don't."
One Circle of Moms member, S.J., says, "I am a nag and I hate it, but it is the only way I get things done." If the nagging didn't produce result, she says, "I would go on strike." "Tell your husband that he is teaching your kids how to be lazy and disrespectful and on that note if the kids say that they're too busy to do stuff for you I'd make them less busy and see how they like missing dance class or football," she says.
What tactics do you use to get the mess makers in your house into cleaning mode?