29/04/2015 18:30 BST | Updated 29/06/2015 10:12 BST

Tidying Kids' Rooms: Their Job Or Yours?

Tidying kids' rooms: are you houseproud or easy life with your children's bedroom?KRB "But I HAVE tidied it, Mum"

I have declared my son's bedroom a no go area. It is, I've decided, the easiest way to keep my sanity - and my temper – in check. (Not to mention exorcising a few ghosts from the enforced bedroom blitzs of my own childhood.)

There are rules – no food, old cups or dirty clothes to be left festering, but other than that, he can do what he likes. If he wants to lacerate his toes on a daily basis on the Lego that covers his carpet like a 3-D plastic rug, so be it. And if he wants to give his desk over to wobbly piles of magazines and the free tat which comes with them, it's up to him. I am washing my hands of it all.


It's taken me the best part of nine years to come to this decision, and no doubt at some point in the future (probably next week) I will explode in a total fit of fury.


That's IF I manage to prise the door open an inch and squeeze in to locate some missing article. But for now, on this rainy Saturday afternoon, I am relieved that the usual weekend 'tidy your room' based row has not happened.

And one of the main reasons for this is because I can remember all too clearly the arguments I had with my mother over my room when I was a child. They really came to a head when I was a tween and teenager. At a time when I wanted - needed - privacy and a space of my own to retreat in, my mother's determination to keep my room like some kind of sterile operating theatre escalated.

I can still clearly recall coming home from school when I was 14 and finding she had 'blitzed' my room. All my personal things; letters, diaries, notebooks, had been emptied out of their secret hiding places and on to my bed. "I've left that rubbish for you to sort out," she told me, leaving me in no doubt that she had read and gone through everything.

The reality was that my room was no different to any other tween or teenage girls; yes, there were clothes spilling out of drawers, piles and piles of dog eared magazines, and cassette tapes on every surface, but it was my den, my sanctuary. Being in it was like being in a little bubble where hours were wiled away reading Smash Hits and adorning my walls with pictures of Morten Harket (until I was told to take them down because the BluTak was ruining the wood chip beneath).

Tidying kids' rooms: are you houseproud or easy life with your children's bedroom?KRB: A rare glimpse of carpet

Although my son is only nine, and, to my knowledge is not writing secret journals about having naïve fumblings in the park or sneaking into a 15 certificate film, I do now think his 'personal' things – and therefore his room - are not mine to meddle with.

At his age, his 'things' consist of vast collections: Star Wars and Doctor Who figures, which he spends ages painstakingly setting out in 'battle' scenes.


OK, to me, looking at it filling every surface in his room, it is nothing more than a landscape of plastic rubbish, but to him it is important.


The same goes for the seemingly endless piles of paper, drawings and computer print outs. To my mind, random sheets cluttering his desk and floor, fit for nothing more than the recycle bin. Yet I can recall the horror at finding my piles of 'art work' binned, my bookshelves removed of titles deemed 'read' and my magazines thrown away once the newest issue was out.

"That's precisely what happened to me growing up," my friend Lizzie tells me, explaining that because of this she is very reluctant to interfere too much in her young son's room, beyond keeping his sets of toys in order just so he can appreciate them a bit more.

Another friend, Carla, is just the opposite though, and describes herself as 'retentive' about her children's rooms.

"It really winds me up to see clothes left on the floor," she says. "I make them pick up them up, plus any toys which are likely to get broken or the bits lost. When they are older I realise I may have to leave them to it a bit more but I can see myself maybe withholding pocket money if things get too gross."

I can totally see Carla's point, as this was ME up until a few weeks ago, but the realisation I could potentially be having the same conversation with my son until he leaves home, combined with my own bedroom based demons, made me come to the conclusion that life – and my son's childhood – is just too short to be rowing over a floor full of battle droids or a dismantled Ninjago Rattlecopter.

And I want him to feel his room IS his, not just a room in MY house (as I was often told) and I want him to feel he has some control and freedom in there.

Although having said that, I have paid heed to a warning Lizzie gave me: despite her current laid back attitude to her own son, she had some sage words of advice based on her experiences with another child - her older stepson.

"His room maintenance was left entirely to him when he turned 12," she said, "I mucked out the worst bits, but when he finally moved out entirely and we cleared the room I found old pairs of underpants under the bed labelled '12yrs'. So the leave them to it rule can lead to some creative ways of hiding the mess..."


What do you think?
Do you insist on a spick and span bedroom, or do you leave your kids to their own devices within certain parameters?
And do you base your decision on your own mum's attitude to bedroom tidying?

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