Posted by: Matthew | November 3, 2007

The Great Debate

The Issue:

As long as kids have had rooms, a battle has been raging. Parents versus kids. Parents want kids’ rooms to be clean (or at least not a health hazard). Kids want the right to keep their space how they want it (to wallow in their own filth). Will a peace treaty ever be reached? We’re looking for your thoughts and opinions? What are the rules at your house? Please take take to a minute to weigh in, because your vote counts. On Wednesday, the votes will be counted. If more people voted that kids should be able to have their own space, then Matthew does not have to clean up his room. If more people vote that messy rooms are not acceptable, then Matthew has his work cut out for him. A mess like that could take hours (if not days) to undo.

Voting is not to be taken lightly. It is important to do your research. Read Matthew’s viewpoint (his first attempt at a persuasive essay, making it a cleverly disguised homeschool assignment) below. View the room in question. Read Mom’s viewpoint. Leave your vote in the comment of either blog. You do not have to leave your comment on the blog of the person you agree with. You may comment anywhere. Don’t forget to ask your kids, lest the outcome be tainted by an adult only vote. Vote away!

The Room in Question:


Can you spot Matthew in this room? He’s in there…….


Find him yet?


Matthew’s Side:

Making kids clean their rooms is downright unfair. Cleaning rooms is so hard. Kids should have the right to have their own space to do what they want. Even though it’s in an adult’s house, kids should be able to share a piece of the house. Kids would be happier if they didn’t have to clean their room. It does not hurt anything to have a messy room.

Cleaning rooms is hard because it is always too messy to get things to the place that they go. Cleaning is hard because it takes too much time. Time could better spent doing hobbies or playing with other people.

Kids should be able to have their own space to go to when they are bothered. Kids should have a right to keep that space how they want it, because it is their space. Kids need to feel like they have something that belongs to them.

Parents like to see kids happy. Kids aren’t happy when they have to clean their rooms.

A kid leaving their things out all over the house is hurting something, but leaving the mess in their room, is not.

In conclusion, most kids think that being made to clean their room is unfair.

Go to Mom’s side.



  1. […] is not to be taken lightly. It is important to do your research. Read Matthew’s viewpoint (his first attempt at a persuasive essay, making it a cleverly disguised homeschool assignment) […]

  2. Oh Grandson! When I was growing up my mother(your great grandmother) said you could tell what I wore that week because my clothes were scattered all over the room. My room usually got cleaned every two weeks by the cleaning lady. How cool you think. I HATED that because I never knew where she put things away. That could have easily been avoided if I had done it myself! I wish my mother would have been a little more strict with me. I learned some very bad habits that I struggle with to this day. A neat, uncluttered area is much better…I don’t mean the all crazy nutzy kookoo kind of clean with plastic on everything, but when things are not all cluttered I think better, get more things done because I’m not overwhelmed with stuff. I love you Buddy but I agree with your mom on this one.

  3. Hey Matt, great debating. I particularly thought that this point:
    “Cleaning rooms is hard because it is always too messy to get things to the place that they go.”
    Summed up very nicely why it’s too hard for me to do dishes at my place – there’s always to many dishes.

    Unfortunately, I’d have to side with your mum in this debate. The main point of your argument (if I understand correctly – tell me if I’m not) is that cleaning your room is unfair.

    The problem with the “it’s unfair” argument isn’t that it’s wrong – it most obviously IS unfair. The problem is that almost everything in life is unfair. Making it the basis of your argument is just begging for your mum to say things like – “is it FAIR for me to have to buy you new things when you break them in the mess?” Which is NOT sporting but a perfectly legal debating tactic.

    I think you have the basis for a very solid defence, but you might need one or two more arguments to beef up your position so your mum can’t argue with you.

    Good luck – if you win, let me know so I can use the arguments to get out of scrubbing the toilet.

  4. Matt, I feel for you. I really do. But, that room is awful! My son (13) has a room that looks like that, and every couple of months I go in and clean it myself. I know, it sounds like a dream, but I come out with a large garbage bag full of stuff that never comes back. We have tried many different tactics to get him to clean himself, but this is the only one that has worked so far. My other three kids are less messy and learned their lesson after the first Mon Cleaning. I would hate for this to happen to you, buddy. It looks like you have some really cool stuff.

  5. This is just my opinion, but I think that the limits of messiness should be: Can you find things? And are there any health hazards?

    It’s always easier to find what you’re looking for if it’s in Its Place. Sometimes it takes some time to put things away, but you usually save that time later when you don’t have to hunt for it.

    If you have food or dirty clothes or dishes somewhere in your room, they could grow mold or mildew and that would be gross. If there’s anything that could hurt your feet when you step on it, that’s a problem too.

    My apartment is usually cluttered, but I try to stick to those two rules and they make my life a little easier. I clean up more when my mom comes to visit, because I know that cleaning is important to her. Sometimes cleaning can be a way to show your mom that you care. Maybe you could clean your room as a present to her!

  6. I feel for ya, kid.

    My room was actually way, WAY worse. Kids I knew who had rooms as messy as yours were stunned at how bad mine was. It sucked, because things did get lost and broken. My mother gave up on me and my sister and just insisted that we keep our doors closed (but she also insisted that we not be slobs in the rest of the house, and if we left stuff out and she ended up having to clean it up, she’d confiscate it and put it in her room). Now that I live alone and I’m just as messy, things still get lost and broken and it’s a big giant pain and I wish I’d learned some good habits when I was a kid, like learning to make sure that everything has a place to be put away, and learning to just round up junk and give it away to keep it from cluttering my room.

    Now, for your arguments:

    You said that it doesn’t hurt anything to have a messy room, but sometimes it does. You can lose important things or step on a belt buckle, get a giant hold in your foot, and have to get a tetanus shot (yeah, I did that). BUT, if you are willing to live with the consequences – like, if you’re willing to buy a new DVD if you lose or break one in your room, or just live without the thing that broke – then you’re the only one who’s hurt. That also means, though, that you can’t take things into your room that might

    You also said that cleaning rooms is hard and it’s a hassle to get things to the place they go. I bet that’s part of your problem. For example, I see a lot of stuffed animals in your room. Do you have a place to put them? Or better, do you have a place to throw them? The easier it is to put something away, the more likely you are to just put it away and get it over with, which will keep your room from getting out of hand.

    When you do clean your room (and you really should at least once in a while; it’s a pain, but it’s worth it afterward when you can move around in it and find stuff) you should look into the 4-box method of getting rid of clutter. I’ve tried it, and it helps a bunch.

    Anyway, I’m going to mostly agree with you here. It’s your room, and you need a place that’s your own, even if it doesn’t look the way your mom wants it to. If you’re the only one who gets hurt by the mess, and you’re willing to accept responsibility if something does go wrong, then you should get to leave it messy.


    Your mom still needs to get things done in the house, and you need to wear clean clothes, so if she asks you to get all of your dirty laundry or change the sheets on the bed, or other chores that aren’t just “clean your room”, then I’m gonna have to side with her.

    And don’t forget: some really smart people have very messy desks. Have you seen pictures of Al Gore’s desk? It’s piled high with paperwork, but he still manages to get quite a lot done.

    Good luck and remember that even if you lose this debate with your mom, you’re learning how to argue your case. The next time you disagree about something, you’ll have a better chance at winning the argument.

  7. I’m taking your side for no good reason other than that I still hate to clean and I feel your pain. The only reason I do it is for these reasons:

    1. I’m a grown up and people come into my space and see it, so it has to look neat and be sanitary.
    2. If I lose something, it’s my own fault and I hate that.
    3. If I break something because it was on the floor and I step on it or roll my chair over it, that’s my fault too, and I hate that.
    4. If I run out of clean underwear, I have to wash it myself or risk people thinking I don’t have enough sense not to smell like funky old underwear.

  8. Yes, my room used to look like yours. And my children had room just like yours too. (My son, who is now 19, read your mom’s part about food stuff going in and the trash not coming out and really had to laugh about it – because he still does the same thing….
    we actually had mice in his room living off his left over snacks… but even today we have to make him take down all the glassware he takes up but forgets to bring back).

    Did I like my messy room? Not really. Just like you I hated the cleaning part. And the longer you wait of course the more work it becomes.
    It took me years to get a kind of system that makes me tidy up before it gets too bad and takes more and more time.
    I still don’t like cleaning (and I do not really know people who do really enjoy it) but I know I have to get it over with.

    Apparently messy rooms are hereditary but I have really tried to teach my kids to be tidier than I always was. It took me so much energy – because I did not think it fair to do the cleaning for them having already a sitting room, kitchen, bathroom, hallway, garden, bedroom, all the laundry, shopping and cooking on my to-do-list besides my paid job as well.
    So I kept trying with arguments and threatening with ‘punishments’ – to no avail. The time and energy spent on this I would rather have spent on nicer things….

    As a mum I am not completely objective but you mother looks and sounds as being very reasonable. Apart from that she definitely loves you a lot and takes good care of you.
    She is doing you a lot of favors, maybe you can do this room cleaning thing just for her?

  9. I agree with you Matthew, a kid should be able to keep their space however they want it.

    One of your points is that it is hard to clean your room when it is always such a big mess, I agree with you that is why my room was always such a big mess when I was a kid. Once you get it clean though if you have a space for everything it is easy to tidy up and you’ll never have to do a big cleaning again.

    My suggestion is that you ask your mom to help you clean the big mess that you have now in exchange for trying to not let the mess get as big in the future . It will be a big job, but will go quicker if you work together. After it’s clean make sure that you have a place for everything so that you can find your stuff easily and put it away easily. Maybe you could get some bins under your futon for some of your toys? If you have things you don’t use anymore you could give them to your sister or to a charity so somebody will still get to enjoy them. Once you have it organized the way you like it tidying up will be really easy and won’t seem like a chore. The mess won’t build up anymore and you’ll never have to clean your room again and your mom will leave you alone about it.

    As a naturally messy person like you, that worked for me. I hope it helps you.

    Good luck Matthew, I hope you and your mom can agree with something that makes you both happy.

  10. Matthew, I think you’re basically right…your space, your mess.

    However, I think that NO FOOD TRASH (EVER!) is an excellent rule. Trust me, dude, you don’t want ants!

    And, as a second good rule, I think you need to find a way to get your dirty drawers to the laundry. Again, trust me here, dude, girls like boys better when they wear clean underwear. I know this may not seem like a big deal now, but it’s a good habit to get into. Someday, it may come in handy.

  11. Buddy, I am a very unorganized person, and even though I am 28 years old I STILL get in trouble for having a messy room! Keeping your space clean is even harder when you have attention problems, because its just so BOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING!
    One thing that bothers ME when my room is messy is that it is very hard for me to find things, and it is also hard to do things in there (like spend time with friends, do schoolwork, walk around, etc) when it is so very messy!
    Does having a messy room bother YOU at all? If you could wave a magic wand and make your room very clean, without actually having to clean it, would you do it? Or do you kind of like having your own nest in your room?

  12. Sorry, bud, but I’m going to have to agree with your mom on this one. I’m all for a kid having his own space, to live in and decorate as he likes. I’m also a big believer in a certain “organized clutter,” if you know what I mean.

    But, and I say this as a naturally cluttered person, you should never have leftover food in your room (as someone else mentioned) and you should always put your dirty clothes somewhere appropriate; neither one of these is really much work at all, and they’ll both have a huge impact on how clean your room looks/smells and how others will treat you when you’re grown up.

    Also, I have a personal rule about messy floors: If you couldn’t leave your room in the dark without breaking a couple of toes, your floor needs picking up. Even if you just push stuff to the sides of the room, it’s better and SAFER (what if there was a fire?) if the main floor area is clear.

  13. Sorry, I’m voting with your mom, but I do have an addendum.

    I don’t think you have the right tools (storage space) to clean your room, based on the photos. That means that even if you do a fantastic job of shoving everything in the closet and under the bed, as soon as you look for that one lego set that is at the very back of the closet, the mess is back.

    I think you should have to keep your room relatively clean and tidy. You and your mom should work out what that means for you – bed always made but desk cluttery? Legos on the floor but a clear path to the bed/dresser/desk?

    I know it sucks, but keeping things tidy is an excellent habit to have. It’s boring, but I always put on music and dance as I clean. That helps, and I always end up finding things I had forgotten about, which is like a bonus.

    One thing you can start doing is spending 5 minutes every few days cleaning/tidying. It goes by really fast, and you’d be surprised at how much you can do in that short period of time.

    I say all of this, but my office and room are very untidy. I’m going to take my own advice and start a 5 minute clean at the end of every day.

  14. Personally? I wouldn’t wanna be in a room like that, but a kid’s space is a kid’s space. I think as long as he respects the public space in the house, he should be allowed to keep his room in any fashion he desires. 🙂

  15. Matt, I think there are several reasons to keep a clean room.

    1. It will make your Mom happy. This will help you later, when, for example, you want a new toy.
    2. Presentation is important. If your room is neat and it is easy to find stuff, it will be more fun to be in.
    3. It is easier to think in a tidy environment.
    4. You will actually enjoy cleaning your room if you take it on as a task, rather than having your mom tell you to do it.
    5. If you don’t clean your room now, you will suffer as an adult. It is really hard, when you get to be my age, to develop good cleaning habits.

    Look, you know your friends who keep a bunch of pets but their parents don’t keep their house super clean and their house smells like pets? These are people who didn’t clean their rooms.

  16. I”m with mom on this one but…

    This could be fun! I agree that storage is the big problem here. It totally sucks when you can’t find what you want. So…

    Find a theme or a few colors you like. Paint is pretty cheap and easy to do. Clear out the whole room and paint it your favorite color or even two or more colors.

    Start searching thrift shops for storage and “decorations”. I know decorating doesn’t mean much to a guy your age but it really means making your room look cool.

    Say you wanted a camp theme. You could look for old picnic baskets or coolers to put your stuff in. The inside of the containers don’t have to be orderly….but all the stuff could be in one place. One container for action figures, one for cds and so on. ALL the stuff doesn’t have to be in the containers all the time…that’s no fun. Choose five minutes of each day to put away the stuff you’re not using.

    And….remember this. When you grow up, the person you live with will likely not want to live with a mess like this. Easier to learn to be a tidier person now rather than later.

    Again….make it fun!

  17. I have a mixed answer for this one. I for one am a very messy person, and so my room is usually as messy as yours and i agree with you that a messy room in and of itself doesn’t hurt anything. However i do all my cleaning including my laundry and dishes. And in your case it is unfair for your mom to hunt around your room picking up dirty clothes.

    I think kids can have their rooms however they want as long as some ground rules are established and followed. As long as you keep things that your mom has to do like laundry and such in order i vote in your favor. Although i warn you, there will come a day where your room will be solely your responsability, as will your laundry and dirty dishes, so it would be better for you to get in the habbit of keeping your things in order.

  18. Matthew, I think you are adorable but for the love of all things sanitary please go clean that room before some never before seen bacteria eeks its way into your brain. This of course is coming from the mom of a 15 year old boy.

  19. Dude! Your room is a mess. I agree about the whole “your space” thing but the food garbage and the dirty clothes have to go. Get a little more organized, keep it a little more organized, I think everyone will be a lot happier.

  20. Hi Matthew and mom –
    I am a former “messy” kid. My mom and I fought about my room for YEARS. I almost always won – meaning my room stayed a mess, and for years I struggled with the repercussions. At 27, I have finally learned to keep my room clean – and it has changed my life! I can get things done more quickly – I actually get to the projects I say I want to do but get lost in the shuffle (things like photography, crafts and reading). What I would suggest is that you start slow in learning to keep your room tidier. Maybe go with your mom to one of the stores that has lots of containers and pick out the kinds that you think might help you. Tackle one thing at a time – maybe clothes first, then toys, then “stuff.” I find that I don’t keep clothes organized on shelves. If I have a shelf – it’s just going to be jammed in there. I need drawers – so now I have lots of drawers to put my clothes away in. Start exploring how you like to manage your stuff – one reason I had all my stuff out all the time was that if I put it away, I’d forget where – or that it even existed! Open organizational tools help this – drawers or shelves with clear or wire fronts so you can still see what’s in side. Then at least they’re not on the floor – but you don’t have to worry about losing them.

    I used to think I functioned just fine in mess – but now that I have a cleaner space, I feel like I can think and do things better because I know exactly where things are and it’s not so overwhelming to pick up and put things away when I do get a bit messy.

    Hope these tips help 🙂

  21. My 3 children all think that you should leave it how you want, but one of them thinks you should clear a bit of the floor.

    I think that if it was my house and you kept your clutter out of the family rooms I wouldn’t worry but I would insist on clean clothes being put away and dirty ones in a laundry bin. So 3 votes for you and one for mom


  22. Life is relationship or else life is lonely. All of it. For now, you are in relationship with your family.

    One day, you will add to it and add a family of your own to the family you have. Otherwiase, you will be alone.

    As a child, you get a break. You can make a mistake and we chalk it up to growing up and learning. As an adult, there is less forgiveness when an error occurs.

    Organizing your life lets you add MORE to it. You can come back to whatever you want, because you know where it is. That means you respect yourself to be able to make the best out of life always.

    When you are the dad, you will share a room with the mom. How THAT room is organized will have a lot to do with how your life goes. You will be happy or else alone. Making your room the best it can be now is training and practice to be in the best of relationship all of your life.

    No man is an island and all alone. You are part of your family’s house. Make your room as inviting to your family as you want people to feel invited to know you all of your life. Clean up.

    We have autism in our family and it has been a whirlwind of love. But totally organized so we can fit it all in.

    Blessings to you all.

  23. As an adult, there is less forgiveness when an error occurs.
    I spelled Otherwise wrong.
    Forgive me please.

  24. […] Matthew will be back soon after Christmas, but for now, here is the status on his room following The Great Debate, from my […]

  25. I think that kids have rights too, so should be able to keep their room how they want as long as it’s not a hazard. Otherwise it’s like slave labor. 😀

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