Manners Matter: Cleaning Up

Dear Mary Pat,

There isn’t a delicate way to put this really, so I’ll just call it like it is: My daughter is a slob. I know that sounds harsh, but it is truly the best way to describe how she leaves her room. She’s neat in most other areas of her life (her appearance, her car, etc.) but her room is a hot mess. We’ve gone rounds on her inability to keep her room tidy. She just started her freshman year of college and now I’m worried about how she will keep her dorm room. I don’t want her roommate (or worse, her roommate’s parents) to think she was raised in a barn. I’m also worried she won’t even be able to study since her books will probably be buried in a big pile of clothes. What can I do to encourage her to clean up her act?


Worried Mom

Algoma, Wis.


Dear Worried Mom,

It’s simple. You do nothing. She’s leaving the nest and you don’t have any control of how she keeps her room. You’re going to have to let your daughter figure this out on her own. Her roommate will either not care, care very much, or be a bigger mess than your daughter. She might be more influenced than how her peers react to her mess than how you do. The point is, it’s not your problem any longer. (When she comes home for breaks and for summer, that’s a different story since it’s your house, your rules.)

Your daughter might surprise you. Maybe living in a smaller space will inspire her to get organized. Who knows? Maybe she’ll ask for a gift certificate to the Container Store for Christmas.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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