The end is not near

Have you ever thought about how being the parent of a teenager or two is a little bit like tweezing your eyebrows? Painful, difficult to get right and devastating to your self esteem if you make the slightest mistake? (It is worth noting that I have only once in my life made an attempt to tweeze my eyebrows.) I’ve been trying this thing with the kids, a sort of Oka-style standoff in the upstairs hall. ….Oh, sorry. Did you come for the fibre stuff?

Here you go. Erle blocking.


Fleece artist spinning.



Right. Back to the standoff in the upstairs hall. The ladies throw their clothes there. (They throw them everywhere actually, this is just the place that bugs the crap out of me.) Right outside the bathroom door there is always this pile of things that they have cast off themselves on the way to the bath. (Or a pile of things that they rejected while changing clothes during the morning assessment in the mirror. Same diff. ) I tried asking them to clean it up. I tried explaining that it annoyed me. Then, I tried bribery. I bought a hamper and put it right where they throw the clothes, and I told them that even though they are largely responsible for their own laundry these days, I would wash anything in that hamper. Good deal eh? Wouldn’t you think? Wouldn’t you?


Look at this. Blatant hamper ignoring. Blatant, obstreperous, boldfaced hamper ostracism. Daughters, hear me now. This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated. Picking up your clothes cuts into the time I have to do other things. Things like knitting, or spinning, or earning the money that I use to buy you food. It takes my attention away from other things that I do that you like. Things like cooking, grocery shopping…or talking Joe out of screaming “I know what you’re thinking!” at all of those boys who keep ringing the doorbell.

I will not budge from this position. The clothes go IN the hamper. Not BY the hamper, not CLOSE to the hamper, not NEAR the hamper… IN the hamper.

If you put things IN the hamper, the laundry fairy comes sometimes. Not often, and not reliably, but she does show up when the mood strikes her. The laundry fairy is mercurial but there are moments, in every laundry fairy’s day, where if she sees some laundry in a hamper, she’s been known to pitch it into Mr. Washie. Maybe even follow it through to the dryer. No way to tell. The laundry fairy’s generosity is a strange, strange thing. If things are NEAR the hamper, the laundry fairy keeps right on going.

With my wool as my witness. I will not touch anything that is not IN the hamper. Not when you are out of pants. Not when you really, really need your lucky blue shirt or must have a white shirt for the concert even though you will fail music if it is not clean and on your body. I shall not be moved by tears, eyelash fluttering or quiet pouting. (Loud pouting shall be similarly received.) I do not care if we all eventually cannot get into the room that lies beyond the wall of clothes NEAR the hamper.

Put. The. Clothes. In.

So sayeth your mother. Move on. Improve yourselves.

261 thoughts on “The end is not near

  1. My brother has a dreadful habit of leaving his boxers on the bathroom floor. His routine is to get out of bed, grab a clean pair from his dresser, shower and then deposit the worn pair next to the sink.
    I stash the worn pairs under the sink, then when he has friends coming over, I drop them on the living room floor, or in the front hall of the house.
    It hasn’t been a problem for a while… we’ll see what his coming home for the summer from college brings. 🙂

  2. I don’t think my daughter has forgiven me yet. I hope she’ll get over it. I told her for the last time that anything not in the hamper was considered trash and would get thrown out. She puts her stuff in the hamper now. I love Erle. I can’t say I’ve ever finished a sweater that I’ve actually blocked. I guess I’m not that good, mine just sort of are ‘there’. Stay healthy, the new ones should be here soon!

  3. As the mother of 2 girls (now age 21 and 19), I am the living emodiment that you too, can survive. I had this argument ad nauseum with my two. I finally told them that I would throw their clothes out in the yard if they didn’t put them in the hamper. They ignored me. The clothes went out in the yard. Never again did I have this problem. Problem solved. Good Luck.

  4. I feel your pain. I also have a house full of teenage girls (5 girls, 1 boy). Although I gave up doing their laundry years ago. They do their own and have laundry baskets in their rooms. No clean lucky shirts? Their problem. Our “around the house” problem is shoes and (somewhat stinky) socks. I think I gave birth to a bunch of centipedes.

  5. Ranson the clothes. Grab them up, hide them somewhere, and don’t let them have them back until they pay for them by doing extra chores. They’ll get the clue when they’re almost our of things to wear.

  6. First? Can’t be!
    I had a similar standoff with my mother when I was a teenager, regarding the level of dirty (or clean?) clothes on my bedroom floor. This was why I became responsible for my own laundry at age 13-and-a-half.
    Any word on when you’re coming to Chicago? Because I’m planning my wedding, but could probably sneak away for a few hours during the reception if I needed to.

  7. I feel your pain. I also have a house full of teenage girls (5 girls, 1 boy). Although I gave up doing their laundry years ago. They do their own and have laundry baskets in their rooms. No clean lucky shirts? Their problem. Our “around the house” problem is shoes and (somewhat stinky) socks. I think I gave birth to a bunch of centipedes.

  8. crap. must be because you’re a Canuck. I’ve thrown the child of mine’s clothing away. For real, not “I’ll make you think they’re gone” charade, oh no… GIVEN TO GOODWILL.
    The clothes stayed in her room and she did her own laundry from that point on.
    She was 9 years old.

  9. Make a Wish that they have many many children.
    In time……Oh, revenge is sweet.

  10. Steph, I feel your pain. I’m currently undergoing the agony of two teen-age girls in the house, depositing their laundry on their bedroom floor. And to think that I only birthed one daughter … what was I thinking when I opened my home to another girl? Probably that another girl was safer than a boy. Oh well. The Erle looks fabulous!

  11. All three of mine did the same thing. I just collected the clothe(what ever landed on the floor ) and kept it in a big Trashbog in the Basement. They finally noticed that they where running out of things to wear. They had to do extra chores to earn them back. It did not take long for them to learn to hit the hamper.

  12. I used to work with a really wonderful woman, well known in the circles of rubber stamping. She was my supervisor. I would come to her, fretting about one thing or another because someone was upset over something that was out of my control, their self made problem. Mary Jo gave me three little words of wisdom, three little gems. Not. My. Problem. Blessings, Julie

  13. I have to agree with everyone else. I, too, was a messy child (teen) and the curse works. I have a daughter JUST LIKE ME!!!! You know the curse. The one Moms’ put on their children… Someday you will have a child just like you.
    She is slovenly, totally absorbed in her own world, doesn’t see the big picture…. wait, that really was me.
    This, too, shall pass and one day our homes will be clean without our children. That is the real curse.

  14. oh the things I have to look forward to. At this point, if her clothes are lying about the house in dirty piles its my fault not hers, for failing to keep up with the rate that she spits up on them! Gorgeous, gorgeous spinning by the way.

  15. My Mother taught my sis ter an dI a good lesson re clothes and keeping our bedroom up to her standards. She repeatedly told us to clean up out bedroom (we shared) to NO avail. We came homne from school one sunny day to find the bedroom AND the closet completly BARE. Just the furniture and no sheets on the bed no blakies NOTHING in the closet. It remained that way for two whole days and nights. I’ll tell you after that happened we had the most pristine bedroom of any two girls on this planet. To this day we both keep our closets and bedrooms tidy and clean. we found out later in life that she stored the clothes etc at our neighbours .Erle blocking and FLeeze atrist spinning HURAHHHH for you . GOOD LUCK

  16. Too bad that daughters only grow out of this phase once they’re out of your house. I have to say though, it’s not just daughters. Didn’t Joe have the same problem when you first lived together?
    Please tell me that it gets better after years of marriage because I will have to go on some sort of strike if my fiancee continues to pile junk mail onto every single horizontal surface in the house. And even some not quite horizontal surfaces that still offer up enough friction to support those urgent offers from credit cards to be inspected six months from now.
    My friend corrected similar behavior of her husband’s by carefully removing the offending clothes out of the way and onto the balcony of their apartment. If your raised flower beds weren’t so nice…

  17. The laundry fairy comes to your house too!?!You are, to my knowledge, the only other person on this planet (besides me) who has ever mentioned a laundry fairy. I’ve been telling my daughters about her for years and she still appears from time to time even though, like yours, my kids are now old enough to do their own laundry.
    A woman I used to know put everything that wasn’t put away in the freezer. Even shoes, books, backpacks, etc. She had 5 kids (not to mention a deep freezer to hold everything) and once they were over about 8 years old she got them to put things back in their place, laundry in the hamper, etc. by this method. If they wanted anything back they had to pay her. If they didn’t have money they could do extra chores to earn the release of their object. She claimed it didn’t take long before everyone got into a new habit and her life became a lot less stressful. I don’t remember what I did to get my kids to put their clothes in a laundry hamper but they always have. Their rooms are a mess though…isn’t this fun?
    The baby sweater is lovely.

  18. Congratulations for making them do their own laundry! I agree with everyone above,if you find anything on the floor it’s yours to do with as you please. My mom used to make me give her money for every article of my clothing left on the floor, it didn’t really work since I had no money. I do think that taking the clothes on the floor and giving them away is an excellent idea. You can also add insult to injury by making them buy their own new clothes with their own money.

  19. 2 choices:
    1. Ransom the clothes (cause we all know none of us can afford to re-outfit the kids if they’re throw away)
    2. You have those lovely slick (non-carpeted) floors. Just kick the clothes into a child’s room (doesn’t matter whose) and close the door. They can duke it out as to where it ultimately belongs. Strengthen those leg muscles for more spinning!

  20. oh, I can so relate… except mine is a messy husband and daughter torn between doing what is right (seldom) and following in her father’s footsteps (often). What a waste of time, I say!
    If things get ugly(er), just know that my mother would have bundled all those clothes up and disappeared them for a good long time (on a good day). So tempting, isn’t it?

  21. I laughed like a drain(silently, of course)when my son ‘phoned me up from his student residence to tell me that he was ‘Really *&%£”^&*(_ off’ because his friends had borrowed his crockery for a party and hadn’t washed it. ‘Have you any idea, mum, how HARD it is to get DRIED mashed potato off a dish’….. Now, how many times did I ask him to ‘Just put your dish in the dishwasher’ – so, there is hope. You just have to wait until they leave home ;0)

  22. I take a very hard line on your problem. I would not do nearly so much bargaining, the Laundry Fairy might consider picking up all clothes not in the hamper and selling them back as they are missed. $1 shirt, 2$ pants etc. etc. Nor should the very busy Laundry Fairy do the laundry in the hamper unless a huge (and I mean HUGE) fit of good will consumes her. Teenagers or not, one must keep a clear perspective of who is in charge. I believe that is your hallway no? Beautiful spinning.

  23. Everything they leave on the floor, put it in a bag in the basement. I mean dissapear it. Like Jimmy Hoffa.
    When they can’t find it, raise one eyebrow and say “I thought you were throwing that away?”
    It won’t change anything. But I think you’ll enjoy it.

  24. If clothing is on the floor in the hall, it’s been discarded, right? Clear plastic bags let you see what’s in the bag that is being set out for the trash. On the other hand, you could use the discarded clothing for mulch in the new garden. Then there’s that “knitting with strips of cloth” idea – one shirt ripped into strips and cast on, just as a swatch, to be added to someday when you have time and more materials are available on the floor… the new porch could use a knitted doormat, couldn’t it?

  25. Like others who’ve posted, my mother also threw out a bunch of our clothes once. We were special little demons though, and instead of putting the clothes away when they were washed, we’d leave them in a mound on top of the dryer (I have no idea why, it makes no sense to me now). She threatened to throw out all clothes not put away by the end of the day. And she did. End of story.
    The hell with us kids, I’m amazed my mother turned out so well. By all normal reckoning, she should have gone completely insane about 10 years ago. (But she didn’t, she’s brilliant and getting a grad degree and lovely and nice and everything.)

  26. I guess I’m vicious. When my kiddos wouldn’t put their clothes IN the hamper, anything not IN the hamper was confiscated and only returned when the whim struck to return them. Could be a couple days, could be a month. Tell you what, when kids run out of clothes and look at you dumbfounded because you look them straight in the eye and say, “Consequences suck, don’t they?” They a)think you are horribly insane, b) think you are absolutely mean and horrible and all those other things that no respectable parent gets away from being tagged with at least 100 times during adolesence and c) get the message. **evil cackle** Then again, I take a perverse delight in doing evil things like that to my kids. I’m such a baaaaaad woman.

  27. And if that doesn’t work, throw it out. (I know you’ve heard lots of that already, probably.) Worked with me when I was a young lassie.

  28. Be thankful that you have children that have strong legs and can actually walk to the hamper, have enough strength in their arms to at least throw the clothes in close proximity to the hamper. Don’t sweat the small stuff!!
    Miss me?

  29. I have 3 teenagers and fight the same battle. I tried the same solution and then what happens is when they are finally out of clothes, they dump everything in the laundry at once and then you are overwhelmed with laundry.
    I have considered consficating clothing and alloting 3 pairs of under garments, socks, shirts and pants. However two of these monsters are boys, 17 & 18. They would just go without the undies, wear no socks and never change clothes. UGH!!
    They are winning this battle. However, my husband reminds me that their grades are good, one has a full ride to college next year. They come home sober, have no tatoos or piercings (that we can see) and are generally good kids outside the house!!!

  30. A classic case of PDD: Prepositional Differential Disorder. It’s a common malady affecting teenagers and other people who do not have to do the wash and its chief symptom is the inability to distinguish between the prepositions “in,” “around,” “near,” “by,” or “on.”
    Treatment involves administration of laundry duty directly into the patient’s busy Saturday afternoon. For acute cases, the Webster Manuever (a dictionary upside the head) is recommended.

  31. I completely relate. I live with a fairly tidy hubby who uses the hamper in our room. When it is full one of us does the laundry.
    But my brother, sister-in-law, and two neices, they are not aware of hampers, hangers, drawers or any other such items that are meant to contain clothing. And yet I constantly hear, “Where is my _______?” I offered to do their laundry (as a ploy to keep the laundry room clean) but they cannot find hampers either, so no laundry for them. Oh well, so sad.

  32. I only have one girl (16) and a 6 yr old boy who imitates his big sister…..must be a genetic development stage/virus thing…love the suggestions thus far for “cures” for this common phase/disease. Now those of you who are brave enough to let their kids do their OWN laundry….how do you keep them from washing/drying small amounts with the end result of ever increasing hydro and water bills????
    Please share 😉

  33. You have a famous blog I say use it to the best of your advantage – I’m sure that everytime the laundry doesn’t go in the hamper you could post an unflattering picture of them unline you know the really cute ones of them as kids that they never want their friends to see
    maybe go to their school and talk about writing books and blogging and handout cards with the web address

  34. Back in the days when I had two teenagers at home (a girl and a boy) I despaired of ever having a clean home. I kept myself going through all the arguements, mind games and pleading by telling myself that it would pass, they would grow up and move out some day. My daughter got married but she divorced her first husband 3 years later and moved back home several months before our son moved out. Four years later our son moved back for a few months. Two years after he left again, our daughter married again and left. Finally, the house was ours again, I had a life of my own, everything was lovely. And then, I came to the realization that it wasn’t just the kids that had been messy all of those years. My darling husband is a slob around the house. And after 37 years of marriage I think I’m stuck. Forever!
    The sweater looks lovely. What a lucky mom to be given such wonderful gifts for her little ones.

  35. My daughter always puts her dirty clothes where they belong. Is this because she loves me so, because she’s gifted, because of her utmost respect for all the hard work that I, as her mother, put in? No, it’s because she’s 5. I say in 2 years she’ll start to forget where the dirty clothes go and begin the sad realization that I, because I am her mother, am not in the least way cool.

  36. Oh my, do I love all the suggestions that came at you here! Especially creating a door mat out of the clothing! Oldest daughter now (today’s her birthday)was the worst about clothing … and the mother’s curse came true except that instead of 2 daughters 7 years apart (14 years of non-stop teenager … arrrrgggghhhhhh!), she had two boys 13 months apart, and they are BOTH like her! my husband is also a slob with clothing, so I finally said “you throw them in a pile, that means you wash them & iron them too”. He still grouses about that, but I notice he even washes mine now, so I have a “Male Laundry Fairy” … no, wait, that doesn’t sound quite right either. Absolutely gorgeous spinning … what will it take for you to share with me? I can threaten daughters really good for you. Just saying …

  37. With my daughter, it was the shoes in the living room (I never did win). With my brother–mandatory Saturday room clean, if done at all, he did by throwing everything cloth down the clothes chute. Clean, ironed, folded, or the opposite. Until one of the days he neglected the mandatory room clean, hung out with friends on front porch. Brother’s room overlooks front of house and said porch. Up the window sash, and any and everything that came to hand (animal, vegetable, mineral, unmentionable) went out the window onto the lawn. Mother always said it was one of her best parenting moments.
    Short version: I’m with the display-dirty-laundry-in-public, preferably to peers, faction.

  38. Tell them they have until the end of the day to pick up their clothes. When they don’t do it, if you’re still up at 11:59pm, drop their stinky clothes on top of them while they sleep! This apparently worked for some mom who’s son wouldn’t take out the garbage.
    We never really had this problem in our house, but my mom was also rather scary.

  39. Stephanie, there’s another way to make money. Tell your beloved daughters that you will sell anything that does not land inside the hamper. Then do it. I’ll be interested to see what happens then. (Cackle)

  40. My God, this is the solution to your dirt problem!!! This is what we call the two-birds-with-one-stone situation.
    If they leave it on the floor, cram it full of dirt. (Unless it’s a handknit item – that would just be insane.) Pants, t-shirts, undies, you name it – pack it with soil and declare the disposal of said item to be their problem. Refuse to replace any ruined garment. As a former teenager, I’m pretty sure I can guarantee it’ll work. They’ll probably be REALLY pissy for a while, and they’ll end up going to school naked, guaranteeing they will eternally blame you for any social stunting that may result (which they’ll probably do anyway), but by God it’ll work.

  41. I have made a compact with the cats. They sleep on and committ various & sundry nasty acts on all items left on the floor; I buy a couple of cases of cat food and provide a lap now and again. The cats are quite happy, I’m happy, and all floors are free of debris.

  42. My husband was brought up by a mom who did EVERYTHING for her 2 boys. The 3 girls had to clean up their clothes etc., but the boys had Mom, the Cleaning Fairy to do it for them. To this day, I think he believes the cleaning fairy still lives with him. Drives me nuts. And he’s teaching our son this lovely habit. My retaliation? I buy more wool. It doesn’t get my house clean, but I tend to notice the mess less.

  43. I was going to leave a comment about taking any clothing left laying around in YOUR hallway. But I see other wise people have already done so!

  44. I think the answer is rather obvious. You just need to fill that hallway with more boxes of yarn stash. Let them find their own space for discarded clothes…….

  45. I’m sure someone has mentioned this but when I was a kid if I didn’t put something in the designated spot it was taken away.
    Did it twice- once to test, second time just to make certain- my mom took all the clothes I left and gave them to goodwill. I was so mad at her, but I learned the lesson.
    Never did it again.

  46. For some reason, Joe and his children keep the laundry basket in the living room. Thus, there is an ugly pile of clothing and towels on display for all to see nearly every day. When I suggested little hampers for our bedrooms, you would have thought I’d suggested they learn to sit when they urinate! What is it about dirty clothing that people feel compelled to air it and share it?

  47. I feel for your hallway! My parents had us clean our rooms every so often, but generally, we could live in our mess if we were too apathetic to pick it up. However, it had to stay in our own personal rooms, and not in “public” family spaces. I’m not sure how they put up with us. 🙂

  48. I don’t know if I was reading Jackie’s mind or if she read mine.
    Throw the clothes out in the yard. That’ll get their attention!

  49. You know, if my mom had tried that with me when I was a teenager, I’d have taken her up on that! What a nice deal.
    Of course, her not striking that deal meant that then I learned just why you don’t wash reds with whites. Especially when they’re your cheerleading clothes. Whoops!
    If I can toss my clothes from NH to the hamper in your home, will you wash them and toss them back? 🙂 Only joking!

  50. Hey Bets:
    My mom had us doing our own laundry from the time we were 5. She kept the laundry under control by telling us we were allowed two loads a week, one day a week. I had Monday; next brother had Tuesday; brother two had Wednesday; brother three had Thursday. Mom got Friday and Saturday to wash her clothes and sheets/towels/random rugs.
    If we missed our day, we missed our chance for clean clothes that week. If we needed to do more than two loads, we should ask and maybe combine. (Like brother two and I used to combine our sheets and towels into one load on his day because I wanted to do a light load and a dark load on my day.)
    It’s not hard to just instill common sense into the kids, and when one child needs “Just this one shirt! Please, mom!” tell them they have to ask the sibling who has the day if they can toss the shirt in with their load. More often than not, it works out well.

  51. I suspect that it was a tactical error to let them know that it bugs you. It is in the teen-age manifesto to bug the parents, in all ways, at all times.

  52. Man, that is so infuriating. I have no kids of my own, but harkening back to my slovenly teenagehood, here is how my mother used to deal with it:
    – Saturday mornings, when she was vacuuming and I was lazing in bed, she would arrive at my door, push it open with the power nozzle and proceed through my door, threatening to suck up whatever wasn’t picked up, “IMMEDIATELY”. I would bound out of bed and pick up everything, ’cause she totally would have sucked it all up.
    Might I be so bold as to suggest stating anything cast aside and left on the floor is considered garbage? Perhaps you could pack it all in garbage bags and put it with the rest of the trash? I’d think you’d only have to do it once or twice.
    Yes, my mother was a bit militant when it came to housecleaning, why do you ask? Is it the twitch I get by my eye when something isn’t at a right angle? Excuse me while I straighten that picture frame again.

  53. Here’s an idea – anything that’s not in the hamper when you go to do the wash gets picked up, thrown in a box, and given away to the needy.
    My mom did that to us kids when I was a teenager, and I’ll never forget it. How I loved those Jordache jeans, but apparently not enough to put them in the hamper!!!

  54. My 8 yr old son is also of the mind to not want to put his clothes away or put them in the hamper when dirty. I just looked at him, told him he didn’t have to put his clothes away because I would throw them away and he could go to school naked. That was the last time he complained about putting his clothes away.
    Now the younger one (3) doesn’t quite care about his nakedness yet.
    I am holdy firmly to the start young belief otherwise they will be just like me!!

  55. You tell ’em! They’re not four years old anymore. I think this is entirely reasonable on your side. (It would bug me, too . . . my mother never allowed clothing of any kind on any floor, and I have to say that even during the teen years, my sister and I abided by that . . . We left all sorts of other things lying around, but not clothing!)
    And, I’m chortling at the thought of Joe shouting “I know what you’re thinking!” every time the doorbell rings….

  56. There’s also the Charity-Shop Fairy. My mam, who worked, used to bung any sort of non-put-away items into a great big basket in the hall. Anything not claimed and put away by the end of Saturday morning went into a bag for the charity shop. Any non-claimed clothing went into the washing machine, and then into a bag for the charity shop. Non-negotiable. I remember having to track my Dad down to the Cancer Research shop so I could buy back my favourite pair of jeans. The volunteer ladies in the shop laughed and laughed…

  57. I feel your pain. This morning I offered fresh sheets to any teenage boy who would clear a path to and around their bed. One took me up on it. The other will find a pile of sheets in front of his closed door.

  58. So, I want to know, how many times did you threaten to blog a picture of their clothes to try to get them to pick them up, before you actually did it? I’ll bet you won’t have to do it again! Too funny!

  59. Getting rid of the offending clothes really, truly works! Like you, I had the battle of the laundry basket – I tried putting it where the pile was, I bought a different laundry basket (because the original one was ugly – don’t ask), then, I told her she could do her own laundry, and anything I found laying in the hall was going to the Salvation Army – it took precisely one pair of favorite pants and a beloved shirt to make a believer out of her!!! Now, the only requirement is she keeps all laundry in her room, and keeps the door closed so I don’t have to see it. We are all much happier!

  60. My aunt once collected my cousin’s clothes, locked them up and waited until she had about a garbage bag full and then threw them out the window. The clothes included underwear and my cousin never left them laying around again. Just sayin’.

  61. My mother once took our discarded clothing, put it in hefty bags and hid it from us. Eventually we ran out of clothes and were shocked when she suggested that we wash our own clothes. As if. Anyway, it worked. I need to start doing this with my 3 daughters too, we have about 3 or 4 loads daily just because they try stuff on and then throw it on the floor. Grrrr.

  62. I love all these creative parents – glad I’m not the only one who is the most mean mom on the block at times!
    I say go about it from another angle. Leave the clothes (that means don’t wash them either) but refuse to do other things. Like cooking. “You can pick up your laundry or you can make dinner three nights a week. And if you don’t make dinner you girls will go hungry.” Or how about “you can pick up your clothes or you can lose all your make-up/music players/computer time/etc”. I find when presented with an uglier alternative they will take the easy way out. Remember whatever you choose the most important thing is: FOLLOW THROUGH!!

  63. Oh. My. God. My mother would have killed my sister and me if we let our messes spill over into the hallway!!! For shame, the Children of Harlot! For shame! We had a loose agreement where mom would not complain about our rooms (as long as the mess allowed the door to be shut if company came over) as long as we kept the rest of the house free of our clutter. We were pretty good at it. Hang in there! While I will never be up to my mother’s white-glove standards, somewhere around 20 I outgrew clothes on the floor (and graduated to books on the floor).

  64. I have one 20 year old daughter who is out on her own now and seems to be pretty much okay, and an 18 year old boy who graduates from high school tomorrow. (Then two more boys, ages 4 and 2. What can I say? I apparently love their daddy more than my sanity).
    Both the older kids did their own laundry from age 12. My son actually turns me down when I offer do throw some of his in with mine when I have a smallish load. While he does tend to forget to take it out of the dryer, I dump it on his bed and he puts it away.
    I’ve said this before –you’re far too soft. Anything not in the hamper gets taken away–let them ransom it or donate it, whatever. A good compromise is they ransom it in five days or it gets donated–ransom by performing chores above and beyond their normal ones, and the normal ones have to be done, too.
    And what the $&^% are you doing their laundry for? Bribery is apparently not working, so now it’s time to lower the boom. Not only do they have to keep the dirty clothes in the hamper or in their rooms, they have to wash them, too. They can either each do their own (probably the best solution, causing fewer disputes) or they can each take turns doing all of it, week by week.
    BTW, my natural tendency is to be a softie, too. I had to learn how and when to toughen up. But it really does serve both them and you better in the long run, when it’s done properly.

  65. Kinda digging the thrift shop fairy concept myself…it’s like when we told the three youngest to clean their rooms, and they didn’t, and so we did. And everything (well, nearly everything; I got weak around favored childhood stuffies) we touched went for a nice ride to the local Salvation Army thrift store. Replacements were not purchased. My single remaining kid keeps her entire wardrobe in her room (similarly on the floor, but in her room not in my hall). I am so glad we’re down to one…

  66. I say throw the clothes away if they’re left on the floor (0r at least put them in a big garbage bag and stash them somewhere where the kids won’t ever look. Then tell them that you threw them away.) That should take care of that.

  67. Yeah, when you get the teenaged girls to understand that concept, could you explain it to my husband? We already have two hampers and a bin, but he still leaves his clothes all over the place and Dot chews her way through them. Not good for the clothes, and definitley not good for Dot. I’ve taken to saying “Hey, could you put this away so Dot doesn’t die of a twisted intestine?” But then he just gets pouty.
    Also, have you figured out how too keep the teenaged girls from leaving giant puddles in the bathroom, along with 6 sopping wet towels scattered around said puddles? Because if you have, I’ll be needing that information.

  68. Oh Stephanie I feel your pain. Your upstairs hall look likes my living room. Five of us (long story about downsizing gone bad) are living in just over 1000 sq. ft. An apartment: no basement, no garage, no padded cell for me. The cats are fine but the hermit crabs, Milton and Gary, not so fine. Stress I think. I recognized the eye twitch before they passed away. If you could just add a small fridge, a big box of dishes and many university text books to your pile of laundry you would have the look we are currently going for in our ‘entertainment’ area.
    PS Will our international friends know Oka-style standoff from cheese?
    Fondly, Grace

  69. The floor = the house’s largest shelf. The oldest figured it out once on her own, the 17 year is almost there. I will survive the 15 & 13 year old. Boys are not any better than girls. Just keep incriminating pictures.

  70. Oh my gosh, I really am not alone. As I was picking my daughter up at a friends yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice the pristine condition of the house. I was thinking to myself, she is either a slave to her housework or her daughter puts her stuff away… or she has a housekeeper. I was too embarrassed to ask. My kids start the trail as soon as they hit the front door and it just progresses throughout the house. My oldest is notorious for bringing me laundry at 10:30 at night requesting them to be washed by morning… I am such a softie I usually comply, but I think there will be laundry lessons given this summer, along with several other houekeeping duties. It is time for tough love, I think.

  71. Good idea here, though, publicizing photos of their hampered hamper skills. That might get you somewhere.
    My mom would LOVE the colors in that yarn. I love the photo of the braided fleece!

  72. I’ve got the solution to your problem. When I lived in Japan, I met this really lovely woman named Jennifer. She too is from Toronto. Her husband (they were newly wed) did the same thing. Would take off his clothes, suits, casual, didn’t matter and leave them on the floor.
    This is what she did. She threw the clothes away. She didn’t nag, yell or threaten. She just threw them away. Like garbage, picked, done, not retrievable throw away.
    When he asked her about the clothes, she said, “Oh, I saw them on the floor and thought they were garbage.”
    No anger, no sarcasm, just a statement of fact.
    He never did it again. Ever!

  73. Right on! The other day, after finding clean folded clothes on the floor of three out of three bedrooms, soon to be mixed up with dirty clothes, I informed the offenders that I would go on laundry strike for a week if I found any clean clothes on the floor again. You’ve never seen three people move so fast – stuff was put into drawers faster than you can say “Bob’s your uncle” (which he is). Somehow they knew I meant business 🙂
    The spinning and knitting look grand!

  74. The deal I made with my daughter about age 10 was “in the hamper or in your bedroom, or out it goes.”
    She had to keep everything in her room or it went to St. Vincent de Pauls, if it was in the laundry, we washed it, otherwise it was her responsibility… and when she hit 13, the laundry in the hamper became everyone’s responsibility. She was pretty good about doing all the laundry. (and thus got her laundry done by us.)
    My friend’s daughter would pick her own stuff out of a pile and wash a partial load rather than do her parents laundry. That lasted about as long as did my daughters trick, at 14, of answering my questions by saying to her dad “Tell my mother I’m fine.” In other words, not long.

  75. Have you considered taking the clothing in question and hiding them? Then again that might just lead to naked girls and I’m certain while the boys at the doorbell might like it Joe won’t.

  76. I’m with the rest of the knitters — take the clothes, charge ’em money and use the cash to buy yarn!

  77. I’m starting mine out young. She’s two and she loves to help out so she gets to put her clothes in the washing machine every night before bed. I’m hoping that I will be able to avoid this fight in the future.
    I suspect I may not be as clever as I think I am.

  78. Hmmm looks like it is time to get really tough.. that’s when you pull out Mr. goodwill box.. all items left on the floor get swept into the box and taken off to goodwill.. bbye.. farwell.. it should only take one boxful to shape things up.

  79. Hear Hear! I love the ideas posted. Though barely out of the teen years myself, I distinctly remember having an argument about wet towels with my mother. It would come back to haunt me later as everytime the fiance would shower, his towels would litter my floor. I finally solved the problem by teaching him how to do laundry (and threatening to shrink his jeans.) Happily, he washes my things on the weekends as well.
    Erle is looking lovely and my friend/like a sister/like an aunt had her baby yesterday so am defintely thinking a baby sweater is in order.

  80. My mom, who really is sweet and kind but I was a horrid slob, gave my very favorite green velvet dress to my arch-enemy, just as a demonstration of her control over the world of laundry. It worked.
    We grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in a small town, and the kids on the other side (I married one!) had maids. I came home from school one day and asked why *we* didn’t have a maid, and Mom replied, “Oh, we do, and her name is Hildegard.” It became a family joke, saying the dishes were piling up because Hildegard had to take care of her sick mother that day, so could we please help Mom with the dishes, just until Hildegard’s mother was over the flu?
    Hildegard is still around and has the most wonderful life (she goes on cruises!) but does stop by sometimes to do the laundry (while the others are at school/work), as a favor more than a job. We make up creative excuses for Hildegard, then everyone chips in to help with the chores.
    Another option is to do Bad Laundry (I elect to do it with nearly worn-out or nearly outgrown clothes to decrease the waste). Take a favorite white blouse and wash it with someone’s red underwear, shrink a cotton sweater so it fits a sibling better, wash and fold everything but inside out, socks stuck up pants legs, undies in sweatshirt pockets…, stretch the front porch area of a t-shirt waaaay out or stretch one sleeve verrrry long, or you can unpick the back seam in jeans so the next time they’re worn they split.
    How about inviting over a really cute guy and paying him $5 to act totally disgusted by the laundry mess and say proudly that *he* is mature and takes care of his *own* laundry? Good luck.

  81. I worked with a mother once, whose kids would not put their clothes away. The rule in their house became “if it is not put away within 24 hours of being cleaned – it is donated as you obviously don’t need them.” She only had to confiscated the clothes once and then the kids started putting stuff away. Could that work for you – if it is not in the hamper, you don’t care for it and might as well give it to good will. There might be several tempers that flare after they can’t find the favourite shirt .
    I love the fleece.

  82. Juno..that was too funny..the girls clothes compared to Jimmy Hoffa…some 30 odd years from now will The F.B.I try digging them up? You’d have been a tough one on The McClellan committee. R.F.K was notorious for dropping his clothes on the floor and expecting others to pick them up……at least he was a rich kid what’s my daughter’s excuse ? As for the solution well let’s just say I have lower back problems ( she’s 16)

  83. I just recently moved out of dorms and into an apartment at school and I’m also no longer on a meal plan, so I’m living and eating on my own. I can agree with everyone who says you really have to wait till they leave home for a bit. I started sounding like my mother as I did a huge sinkful of dishes, “I can believe those jerks left without doing their own freaking dishes. I didn’t use these, I shouldn’t be cleaning them…” and on and on for what felt like an eternity. I have a whole new understanding of what my mom had to deal with on a daily basis.

  84. Did this tactic ever work out for you with the dishwasher, or are they still putting all their dishes on top?
    If you’ve got any secrets for getting them to wipe up the damned food they spill all over the table/floor/counter/house, I’m getting desperate myself. And there’s only one teenager here. Also, I have a question: if you have some food in the fridge and you say at the supper table, within hearing of the teenagers, “we will have that for supper tomorrow”, do the teenagers ever then totally “forget” that you said that and eat the food that was for tomorrow’s dinner at midnight or after school? I’m new to this living with a teenager thing, and that nearly drove me batshit last night.

  85. That fleece artist spinning is gorgeous.
    Gosh, just can’t wait until my girls are teenagers. (That is blatant sarcasm if you can’t tell.) They are currently 6 and almost 4 and very often I catch glimpses of the teenage years. It’s not going to be pretty.

  86. I’ve been a single parent since my son was 2 (now almost 22). He’s been in charge of his own laundry since the age of 9. There were times when the pile of crap on his bedroom floor was (I swear–I measured) 18 inches deep and I told him I wouldn’t enter his room until there was a safe pathway. No bedtime story. No bedtime tuck in.
    He just came home for the summer from college. With all his stuff. Everywhere. Sigh. Two steps forward, one step back. But it’s great to have him home.
    My recommendation: stop doing their laundry. They are old enough to do it for themselves, if not the entire household. Of course, that means distancing yourself from your relationship with Mr. Washie.

  87. My almost ten year old daughter does the same thing. I tried the whole hamper thing even but she would throw it anywhere but the hamper. Oh lovely fleece artist by the way.

  88. Why should *you* be the bad guy? Get your family a puppy. Who doesn’t like a puppy? Get a Labrador retriever; they stay puppies the longest.
    That lovable bag of cuddles will be your enforcer. Anything not properly put away will be chewed into individual molecules, and it won’t be your fault. My late, beloved Labrador, Bonnie, chewed all her life. Except for dog hair, our floors and tabletops were immaculate. Our replacement dog abruptly stopped chewing when she turned 14 months, and we have slowly resumed our slovenly habits.
    I thought I had every problem in the book with my daughter, but laundry was never a problem. Here’s a secret: I like doing laundry. I load the machine, put a movie on the TV, and pick up my knitting. Every half hour, I put down the knitting,pause the movie, and move the laundry from one machine to the other, folding as it finishes. At the end of the day, all the laundry is clean and folded, I’ve seen a nice movie or two, and I’m that much closer to finshing the current knitting project. It’s a good day.

  89. Oh, good Lord. You should see my son’s bedroom. We haven’t seen the floor in so long, I don’t think I’d recognize it. But, at least the door is closed.
    Maybe I should take pictures and post them on the internet. This might be a new way to so embarrass your children, they will finally do what you ask.
    Then again, maybe not..

  90. Sounds like all our moms took the same crash course somewhere. When I was about 10, my mom packed me off to my grandma’s for a weekend. When I came home, my room was spotless and most of my toys, clothes, and “stuff” had been donated to charity. I never left the room a mess after that again.
    Of course, my mom was nicer than her mom. When my mom or her brothers and sisters left a mess, grandma tossed their stuff into the burn barrel and lit it on fire. And made them watch it go up in smoke. She was old school, my grandma.

  91. I like the dirt pile idea. Anything on the ‘public’ hall floor, goes out the back door on the dirt pile. I hope the soon to be mother of twins didn’t read today’s blog. It doesn’t give her much to look forward to!

  92. this makes me think of the time my mom put everything that was on the floor into trash bags and threatened to toss it out the window. or maybe the time she piled it all onto my bed and I had to put it all away before I could go to sleep. you are being pretty nice about this if the laundry fairy still visits. she stopped coming to our house a long long long time ago. (of course that means that the washing machine might be monopolized for an entire weekend while a girl tries to catch up, which is just as annoying when I am out of undies. sigh)

  93. This is so funny. Just this morning I was brainstorming to myself new ways to try to get my 15 year old son to stop leaving towels and various clothing all over the house. Like “honey the easiest thing for me to do is to pick this up for you. You are 3/4 of your way to adulthood and need to start somewhere”. Clearly I should be taking a more direct approach. Well..consider yourself fortunate the clothes are tossed in one spot.

  94. I hope you will see, by the time you get this far in the comments, that lots and lots of Moms (Mums?) ransom/trash/hide their daughters’ laundry. You won’t be such a bad guy for doing the same. At the very least, you’d be able to point them to the comments here so they can see they’re not to be pitied if you do…
    (Says the girl who watched her mother chuck big sis’s clothes on the lawn, and learned well from *that* lesson)

  95. My menfolk will take this post as personal vindication. I will stop trying to make them distinguish between the “lights” and “darks” halves of the hamper, and just be grateful that they manage to put things IN the hamper.
    But I’m not done on the toilet seat issue…

  96. I have Oka-style stand-offs with my daughter almost daily (not over laundry yet, I haven’t even started on that battleground, we’re just working on apple cores behind the couch, releasing the ant farm to run free in the house, etc.) She’s 6. I told her one day in the heat of the moment that I hoped she had a daughter just like herself when she grew up, and she replied “if I do, I’ll sell her.”
    Blogging the mess was brilliant – hows about emailing the link to all their friends (male in particular)? Or do they have no shame (always a drawback)?

  97. Ohhhh – you’ve all given me so many ideas! My daughter (10 yrs) sheds her ‘skins’ every night when she has a shower after swimming. We’re fed up on skins on the bathroom floor, swimming costumes & towels left in her bag & dirty clothes all over her bedroom floor.

  98. If I can’t convince a 28 year old man to put his clothes in the hamper-not to mention stop leaving his wet towels on the freshly made bed- then what hope is there for corralling the dirty laundry of teenagers? Maybe your girls aren’t ignoring the hamper, they just can’t see it. Like laundry hampers in the wild, it has adopted camoflauge as a defense mechanism to protect it from being attacked by its natural enemy, the adolescent dirty sock colony.
    Oh, and if you do decide to go the “remove it or lose it” route, my wardrobe is looking pretty sparse lately (I’ll give you three guesses as to where all my diposable income goes, and the first two don’t count). I’m petite enough to fit into juniors sizes, and I promise I’ll put them in the hamper 🙂

  99. My hamper in the hallway also. Right out side the bathroom door. Still the clothes pile up inside the bathroom behind the door. Because it would be way to difficult to actually pick them up and put them in the hamper. My daughter has access to two hampers. She never uses either one. I feel your pain! Nice blocking.

  100. As a mother of three teenage (as of Sunday) girls, I so know where you are coming from. Your command of the language is astounding and I would love to know if you play Scrabble. I am guessing you would be an amazing opponent. I love the sweaters.

  101. When I started reading this post and glanced down to see the photo of the hamper in the upstairs hall, I got so excited … I knew I had to leave work immediately and rush home because … the Yarn Harlot is awaiting me at my house. Surely you must be, as that is what MY upstairs hallway looks like (on a good day – it’s usually worse) so I knew you were at MY house taking a picture of MY hallway and awaiting MY arrival!

  102. I vote for the strict rules! Sometimes you need to get dirty and here’s why: For their own good. I always threw my clothes on the floor as a child and I still do! It drives ME nuts and it’s out of control. I wish my mother had ransomed my clothes when I was young!

  103. The only thing that has ever, ever worked with my son is something along the lines of, “Pick up those gunboats, I mean shoes, that you left in the front hall. If I ever see those shoes off your feet and not in your bedroom again, they will disappear and you will never see them again.” This works on plastic toys as well as items of clothing, as he himself has to replace them if they do disappear. Following through on the threat once, about 10 years ago, was enough proof that I meant what I said. Although it’s now beginning to wear off.

  104. Again with the words all mothers want to say (and most DO say over and over and over and over…..).
    This week my fight sounded like this:
    Her: Can I wear this?
    Me: Is it your uniform?
    Her: No.
    Me: No.
    Her: Can I wear this?
    Me: Continue ad nauseum until she finally locates one clean pair of uniform shorts at the bottom of the dresser. Does this interaction encourage her to do her laundry after school? Of course not.

  105. LOL!! Oh my god. My little brother does the exact. same. thing. When I lived at home it drove me nuts. And what I would do was pick up his dirty clothes that were right next to the hamper and I’d shove them into his bed. Right on his pillows under his covers. My mom gets to the whole no more laundry point every now and then. Hope it works. Another idea? Every day the Donation Fairy flies by the hamper. What is in the hamper is safe but what is outside of the hamper isn’t. The Hamper Fairy feels very badly for those teenagers who would love lucky shirts and pants so she takes what she fancies and shoves it into the donation bag which is kept in a yet undisclosed location. At least you’ll reduce the amount of clothes that gets left by the hamper.

  106. I realize that it is rare for a person without children to be able to fully understand the turmoil of a person with children. However…one of the daily rants in my house is *in-it-not-at-it*. Mind you, it’s in reference to one cat named Bob and the litterbox in the corner.

  107. Hey, it could be worse. My son put dirty clothing on top of the CLEAN clothing in the laundry basket. I got suspicious when doing the laundry I found folded clothing. I knew there is no way on earth my son would fold anythig so it was clear I was rewashing CLEAN laundry.

  108. DId anyone else see the today story about the Mom who picked up everything she found on the floor in her house, put it in a box and sold it on Ebay? That hallway is a war zone, I say take the prisoners!

  109. My daughter has four older female cousins, and as a consequence she has four times as many clothes as she needs (leaving aside the fact that her cousins are all mall rats and we are using a very generous definition of “need” here). A week ago (or, um, maybe more) she found all the boxes with her summer clothes in them (I have no idea how or where) instead of her dresser. Today I made her go through all the boxes and pick a limited number of shirts and shorts, and then I made her do a similar triage on her drawers. She tolerated all this remarkably well. Do you suppose… nah. She probably has a whole wardrobe stashed between her bed and the wall.

  110. And when they have children of their own who throw their clothes on the floor next to the hamper leaving it for your daughters to pick up…and your daughters whine at your about how horrible your grandchildren are being…
    show them the photo. 🙂
    Now excuse me whilst I go wash a pile of laundry.

  111. I like the kick it randomly into any room solution, myself. Fast, easy, and guaranteed to inflict massive exasperation. At my house it isn’t the girl, it’s the boys. And it isn’t the clothes, it’s any and all food receptacles: cracker packages, dishes, pop bottles, cups, utensils….

  112. When my 15 yo daughter couldn’t get her dirty clothes in the hamper, or her clean clothes off the floor, or the chair, or the bed, or whatever was nearby (the worst was when she hid them in the hamper UNDER the dirty clothes), I whined, fussed, cajoled, yelled, etc. Then one day when I had just had it, I told her she had earned the privilege of doing her own laundry. And – I got dibs on the washer, she would have to work around my schedule (weekends). I think she thought I was kidding, or that I would change my mind after a few weeks, but it’s the best move I’ve ever made. Laundry is much nicer to do for people who appreciate it and put their clothes away! It is frustrating to have people fighting over the washer, but I would suggest assigning days. I even catch my 15 yo washing her 10 yo sister’s jeans for her once in a while – wow – she’s helping her sister. Yikes!

  113. Ah, the Mommy Curse. “When you grow up, I hope you have daughters JUST LIKE YOU!”
    Bet your momma said it. Time to say it to your daughters. (It’s tradition.)
    Disappearing is the universal treatment, as you can tell, but my best friend took it one step further. We were shopping together with our teenage daughters and my friend picked a pretty sweater off the rack. Her daughter admired it appropriately and my friend tossed it to the ground (in the store mind you) and said “Yes, that’ll look wonderful on your floor!”
    She claims it was very effective. 🙂 So say those in the “Secrets of the “No I don’t WANNA be the momma of teens” sisterhood”

  114. I had the daughter my Mother wanted.. Quiet, neat, put everything in its place after playing.. slept through the night from day one.. ( yeah I know you hate me) Her room was cleaner than mine.. She started doing laundry when she was 6 & I had to have knee surgery.. I sorted she did…Well… she turned 17…I have no idea why then.. but after that I could not enter her room without boots.. Laundry piled up..etc. So for 4 years.. I never entered her room. Safer that way.. Then.. (lol )she married… He a Marine… lol they have my Grandchild…lol She is throughly paying for it. My Granddaughter puts things in washer, trying to help, lol I love it. Keep to your guns… They too can learn to clean.

  115. If it’s on the floor, it’s trash. But you have to follow through and throw it out or give it to charity. They won’t believe you until you do it. I solved the wet towel on the floor problem by charging $1.00 for every towel I picked up. My son paid a few times before that stopped. And, time can work wonders. My 24 year old now is in an apartment with roommates and called me up to complain that she had neverdone so many dishes in her life (by hand, yet !) and that her slobby roommates don’t turn off the lights. She’s worried about the electricity bill. I controlled my laughter until I hung up the phone. She even sent a group e mail to her college friends and warned them not to leave their parents’ house because they would have to work so hard, and the parents’ house now looks pretty comfortable. Sweet revenge. Betsy in Sacramento

  116. Here’s a two-part lesson that hopefully will work.
    Part I: All items found on the floor are to be donated to kids/teens living in a family homeless shelter.
    Part II – All offending parties (ie your daughters) must accompany you to drop them off.
    Any items they choose to replace, they get to pay for.
    Good luck! (And keep us posted as to the resolution!)

  117. Well, darn, I’m SUCH an enabler. All I can think is, “there’s a lid on that hamper. Of COURSE they can’t toss the stuff IN it.” Try an open-topped — WIDE topped basket, Steph. If they were boys, I’d say, mount a basketball hoop above the hamper.
    It’s like the toilet roll issue. My family can cheerfully go through MULTIPLE rolls of tp just sitting on the counter, instead of taking those few seconds to physically manipulate and insert a new roll into its dispenser. Ask me how long it took me to figure out this gem.
    Now for my problem: What to do about a dear hubby who sits in his chair of choice with three electronic point-and-click devices at his elbow, and mournfully calls you from the other end of the house to start/stop/change volume on his movie?
    (Eyebrow tweezing isn’t quite it — think more, nose-hair tweezing!)

  118. Love the spinning and the almost-there baby sweater. I also love when my daughter calls and tells me how her 14 month old rolled herself in a freshly spilled box of Kix cereal right after she has just bathed her and was attempting to try to stick a load of laundry in from the mountains that had piled up. Think how much giggling you have to look forward to with that many daughters—it all comes back to bite them in the end. 🙂 You just have to hang on long enough to get to the grandma revenge.

  119. I have boys…and always dreamed how different my life would be if I had girls…the house would be cleaner, the conversations at dinner wouldn’t be so gross…you get the idea. I’ve now been thoroughly disillusioned. I however do not have to worry about some of this anymore. The oldest has moved out and its amazing how well he picks up after himself now (he’ll even walk in an complain about his brother’s shoes in the laundry room and he was the biggest offender of this when he lived here!) I don’t do the kids laundry after finding clothes I washed, dried and then folded still folded back in the dirty clothes. If they have stuff in the “common areas” of the house, its subject to confiscation to be either thrown out (donated) or ransomed. If its an item I have to repeatedly request to be put away it becomes history in our house. What ever you decide to do you have to follow through on. When I start to let things go…so do they. The other idea is to go on strike for something that they care about…a ride to the mall…hanging out with their friends at our house. Kids don’t realize how much we do for them learning to give and take in any relationship is necessary…You may not care about the laundry in the hall but I do…I don’t care if you and your friends have no way to get to the movie theater but you do…hmmm. Its nice to know I have so much great company in the bitchy evil mother catagory and we all love to knit instead of pick up after our kids/husbands!!

  120. Everyone gets a hamper in their bedroom and then you only have to close the door on the mess. I got certain children to stop putting clean, folded clothes in the dirty clothes when I confiscated such clothing as I sorted on laundry day. Then I turned to making them close their drawers – 1 D in particular lost 2/4 drawers when I dumped the clothes out of the open drawers and stacked the drawers in my (small) closet. The drawers stayed closed after her boyfriend expressed surprise at the crime, and the punishment. He visits (with the door open facing the LR) among all sorts of clothes on the floor of her room.

  121. Tweezing one’s eyebrows is easier than teenagers.
    Give them one more warning. Then collect the cast off clothing and sell items back to them when they start to notice that they no longer have any clothes to wear.
    Good luck!

  122. I agree with the if it’s on the floor it’s trash philosophy. You will probably only have to trow something away once to get them to stop. You also don’t have to throw it away. You can hide it and then add it back slowly after they learned their lesson. If they the same way I was a teen they will never even notice

  123. With 5 “children” between the ages of 13 and 22 in my parents house, they’ve taken to putting anything on the floor around the house in a bucket in the backyard. Playing cards, winter jackets, shoes, socks, sweaters, anything. On the floor? In the bucket! It sorta works…..

  124. Last week my 11 yr old nephew was overheard telling his little brother he would be able to get dressed if “mom would get off her butt and do the freakin’ laundry” Guess who’s job it is to do the laundry this week? Yup, the 11 yr old, who BTW can’t find his socks, because they are buried under his bed. I have survived laundry for 5 children, and they do eventually learn to use a hamper, washer, drier and even hangers.

  125. Dunno if it worked for your girls, but I just went and put my clothes in the washing basket – any chance of a visit from the laundry fairy?
    Australia’s not that far, well not as far as the moon, and we’ve a fair few sheep. 😉

  126. Rather off the topic here. I waaaaas just wondering where the–ahem–gansey ‘swatch’ has gotten to.

  127. My son 11 1/2 years make the same thing. After he tell me….where is my shirt or pants ?!!! Hum, do you put IN the laundry bag ?…No…ok, don’t searvch no more 😉 If you don’t happy, wash your cloths yourself!
    I have a 2 1/2 years old boy too and I have a lot of things to do in a day….hep!

  128. In a fit of despair, I collected all of my daughter’s clothing off the floor and bagged it. To get any of it back, she needed to “buy” it. Unfortunately, buying back socks simply did not interest her. Good luck.

  129. Like Andrea’s bucket in the backyard idea…
    … make it a Lost and Found bucket – If momma FINDS it on the floor instead of the hamper, child LOSES item to bucket in the outside elements. Can’t find an item of clothing? Go outside and check Lost and Found…

  130. I love all your posts and have never commented on…but this one, I felt I had to. I too have a teenage girl who throws her dirty clothes outside the bathroom door right in front of the stairs. The hamper is RIGHT outside the bathroom door. I don’t understand it. Mostly, I ignore it because when I was a teenager, my mother took all my clothes out of my bedroom (it was a mess)and locked them in the basement. All I had was my school uniform to wear for a whole week. Then she made me go to the grocery store IN MY SCHOOL UNIFORM ON A SATURDAY!!!!! I still have not forgiven her for that. And my room is still a mess…I am 41. I learned nothing.

  131. Maybe with all the remodeling a laundry shoot might not be a bad idea….
    I was also wondering, is there a hollow space under your new porch, that you can get to? You could shove all that extra dirt under it.

  132. I don’t have time to read all the comments, so someone may have already suggested this, but any clothing found not in the hamper, but in one of the offending places, magically disappears for some indefinite period of time. When they are down to 3 pairs of panties, 2 shirts and the pair of pants they have on, perhaps they will start to get the picture.

  133. I think my mom started me doing my own laundry during junior high when I kept forgetting to help out with the laundry. Although I imagine with 3 teens (or close enough) that it might be difficult to implement….
    Love the roving and spinning though. *heart* Fleece Artist.

  134. You need my cat, Stephanie. She pees on laundry that’s left outside the hamper. She especially likes clothing that’s already been peed on in the past, so if that lucky shirt lands in the floor- BLAM! It’s now a litterbox!
    Maybe your husband could… no, probably not. Get a cat.

  135. All of a sudden I am 13 years old again listening to my mom rant about the hamper/laundry. I actually thought the laundry fairy was real for a large part of my childhood.

  136. Give up on the hamper. The stress over it is more taxing than just picking up the clothes. One day when you least expect it, they will be living in their own homes somewhere, and you will (I know you don’t believe this, but I swear it is true) miss those piles.
    This is one of those things that I get to say Because I Am Older Than You Are And Thus I Know More.

  137. Speaking from a perspective of having been that kid, let me tell you what is going on. Is it getting to you? Is it driving you nuts? Do you just want to burn all the clothes and give them a robe to wear forever? Well, the MO is working. Are they getting attention? You betcha! Its all part of the plan for complete mother domination. Conscience or subconscience, it doesn’t matter. They know you are getting fed up with it, BUT that you will continue to do the picking up. What did my mother do? Freak out. Turn into Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest. Bring down the fire & brimstone. Make them keep wondering what you will do next and hope that they won’t see it.
    Sure giving the clothes away could do it. Burning them is costly. Planting a flagpole in the frontlawn to fly their underwear from is time consuming, but do whatever you need to do to get the point across through their skulls that you mean business. Then sitback an wait. The evileye and nervous tick don’t hurt either.

  138. Great! I thought this ghastly habit was limited to men & boys. Three hampers, 5 boys and 1 man(/boy) = appx 6 boxers surrounding hampers on bathroom floors per day. Never IN, always next to. Very mysterious.

  139. What finally did the trick for us is the dog (now 3 years old) that found “worn” underwear to be good for chewing.
    Yup, just the thought of the dog shredding the unmentionables was enough to get the teenager to keep her laundry off the floor.

  140. P.S. Lest you think that giving up sends the Wrong Message and the girls will never learn to pick up after themselves, all I have to offer is my own tale. My Laundry Fairy found all my clothes slung over the Magic Chair in my room, and they all ended up folded and put away, or ironed and hanging up. I didn’t do laundry till I was married sixty zillion years ago. Yet I became a laundry-doing, tidy fool.
    Or some kind of fool anyhow.

  141. I actually commented quite early on for this topic. But, after reading the comments -so many!-I must say; Stephanie, just remember that you are the mom and the girls really are looking to you for direction, even if they don’t like it and even if they don’t want to follow. One day any one of them may be at the other end of a blog writing, “…when I was a teen, my mom did a great thing by teaching me to be more responsible…” Blessings from Julie (mom to a 25 year old daughter and two stepdaughters, 21 and 24. Wonderful young women each) P.S the twenty one year old, here for the summer from college, has been HARD at work cleaning a back bedroom for days-honest!

  142. “It became a family joke, saying the dishes were piling up because Hildegard had to take care of her sick mother that day, so could we please help Mom with the dishes, just until Hildegard’s mother was over the flu? ”
    Sylvia–OUR imaginary maid’s name was Hildeguarde! Are you my unknown sister?

  143. Step one: each girl does her own laundry, they can pick the day.
    Step two: anything found in the hallway floor must be redeemed.
    Step three: memorize these words: Not. My. Clothes.
    Beautiful spinning…I hope mine looks that good someday.

  144. So… here’s my idea… I read about half of the others left and I don’t think anyone in the second half will come up with anything quite like this…
    If you have a flag pole of some sort in your front lawn you can run their dirty undergarments (undergarments because this will be most embarassing) up the flag pole whenever there are clothes in the hallway.
    Should put an end to it quickly enough

  145. Gee, you’re nice. My Mom donated away clothes that we left on the floor of any room besides our own to Goodwill (if we didn’t appreciate them, there were other kids who would). I learned immediately. There was a foot of clothing on the floor of my bedroom but no where else. And to this day I never drop my clothes on the floor anywhere other than my closet. (hey, I’m making progress…)

  146. oh, and not too high for fear of them not seeing them, just high enough to be out of their reach should be good.

  147. ‘Twere it I, I would be bagging it all up in garbage bags and putting it in the basement. Just takes a minute, and then I woudln’t have to see it any more. Wash it? Not hardly. Just put it where the sun don’t shine, so to speak, and leave it there to moulder……………

  148. Oh no – not trash. I think I’d be in the “If it’s on the floor, it must be stash!” camp. Yarn made out of recycled clothes – yippee! (Although – that might turn out to be too much work. In that case, I would do the thrift store thing – then perhaps there would be the possibility of them being able to buy back their own clothes – with their own money, of course.)I hope they find that picture posted on the internet to be extremely embarrassing – I know I would be mortified!

  149. haven’t scanned the comments yet but i betcha i won’t be the only one saying;
    anything not in the laundry hamper may end up in the trash hamper

  150. I wish I had such problems. My 18 yo girl and 20 yo boy keep their rooms spotless and use hampers in their rooms. My husband does all the laundry before I can grab it (I like doing it!) But then, we run a B&B and we have to wash & fold more sheets and towels than I like to think about. Go with the disappearing laundry in your house!!

  151. 160 comments in about 5 hours since you posted? I think you have found another universal experience of mothers.
    Speaking of drains on our time, do you have online grocery shopping in Canada? We just got Peapod in our area which is online grocery shopping AND delivery! It is almost magical…

  152. A few people mentioned dogs, and they were on the right track, but I recommend you get an angora rabbit. Not only will everyone quickly learn not to leave anything on the floor that they don’t want chewed, but you’ll have a source of angora fiber to spin, as well as a professional fuzz therapist to help calm your nerves when needed. (Er, you will all need to stop wearing shoes with laces, of course…)

  153. As soon as I read the words “standoff in the upstairs hall” the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I’m the oldest of three girls and we had upstairs hall issues.
    Although Mum didn’t have a blog, I’m sure if she’d tell you what worked for her…
    (1) Stop looking for their clothes.
    I have no idea when we all started doing our own laundry, but I know that at some point Mum just stopped looking for mine. And I clued in when I continuously ran out of underwear and wore the same jeans over and over again for about two weeks. Many mornings were spent in the laundry room, digging through a pile of clothes that never made it where it needed to go, hoping that magically what I needed would be there. It never was unless I put it in the hamper (which never happened) and, as I say, I figured it out. Natural consequences are a beautiful thing. Eventually.
    (2) A schedule is a nice idea, but veto power is probably better.
    There was no schedule for laundry at our house, but Mum always had priority. If Mum was doing laundry and there was room for a pair of pants or underwear, negotiations were always possible. If it was 10 o’clock the night before a big event and I needed a shirt or pants…and Mum was putting in a full load for work in the morning (Note: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), too bad, so sad. Money probably would have worked, though…
    (3) Post laundry room hours and tweak rules about clothes that do not make it into the hamper.
    i.e. “Use of washer or dryer between 10:00 pm and 9:00 am is prohibited. This does not apply to management. Sincerely, the Management.
    “Please note — any laundry left lying around the common areas will be donated to the Salvation Army. This includes the upstairs hallway. If it’s in your room, it’s your business.
    “Laundry that makes it into the hamper will be washed, however, this is not a priority. My clothes are my priority.
    “Also, please note that all laundry left in hampers will be washed at the same temperature and dried in the dryer. Delicates and / or items needed for a specific day and time are your business and will be rejected.
    “Ultimately — your clothes, your problem.
    “Love Mum.”
    Honestly, they’ll encounter most of these rules when they get to university / out on their own. And if you do what laundry actually makes it into the hamper, they’ll get to university and realize how good they had it before. AND they’ll know how to do laundry and be able to laugh and laugh at the idiots the first week who turn all of their clothes pink, etc, and / or don’t know how to turn the washer on. Believe me. It happens.
    PS: I think “My Name is Erle” would be a great, albeit cheesy, title for a post once the (somewhat evil) sweater is altogether and baby-ready. Hope I didn’t jinx it!

  154. I’m not a mom yet (keep your fingers crossed for me, we’re trying) but I am a high school teacher so in essence I have 120 teenagers who treat my classroom like their rooms at home. I vote for giving your daughters a “loving hug” before they leave for school and tacking their dirty underwear to their backpacks. Or better yet, superglue it to their binders or homework. Public humiliation is the best deterrent…I frequently tape candy wrappers to students’ backs as they leave my room….

  155. Stephanie,
    don’t get so stressed out about laundry. Wash what is in the hamper and ignore the rest. I currently have 3 teenaged males living at home and a 9 year old girl. We do lots of laundry. I wash what is in the hamper and that’s it though.
    I can’t imagine throwing out perfectly good clothes that I paid money for. I would save the big battles for the important stuff. I understand that it is annoying to have dirty clothes littered around the hall but that too shall pass. My oldest is 20 and not living at home anymore, I miss him and the mess and clutter he created too.

  156. I love, love, love the spinning! It is the color of my dreams!
    As a former teenager, I can only offer that the idea of one’s clothing going inside the specific clothing hamper has yet to work itself out in my house, ten years from the time of my hamper wars with my mom. Perhaps my fiance, who seems very laundry-oriented will make such an offer for me?

  157. Belieeeve me I know! I have 9 (yes children) and it’s un freaking believeable the lengths they seem to go to to just miss the damn hampers! Oh, and the trash can too, what is the problem? I mean it’s just as easy to put the stuff COMPLETELY in right? AAAH!

  158. I like the idea of “throwing them away” but I was trying to think of how to not waste perfectly good clothes. then I thought – you could always use them as Christmas presents – look how eaerly you’d get your “shopping” done!

  159. LOL. My mother used to call it the “invisible hamper.” You know the one only myself and my brother could see. It too was outside the bathroom at the top of the stairs. This would infuriate her, with similar demands and consequences that you speak of. I must admit, as a grown woman with a child of my own, that when she comes over to visit she still says that she can’t see the “invisible hamper” in MY home either. It is a sickness….be gentle, for they know not what they do.

  160. I read every word you write and I have great faith in your judgement. I know, for instance, that you would never actually super glue your child’s underwear to her homework. Some of your fans are a tad….scary. Beautiful yarn, by the way!

  161. Um, I don’t have teenagers (or kids for that matter) but as one out of five kids I know how this goes. Although I love all the suggestions, my grandmother (she took care of us while my parents worked) chose the opposite route. Since we were obviously not mature enough to pick up our dirty clothes, then we were not mature enough to keep our rooms clean either. As teenagers, there is nothing more horrifying than having your grandmother sorting through all your stuff and rearranging your drawers and closets whenever she felt like it. I would also recommend coming in to vacuum/clean when said teenagers are having “the most important conversation ever” on the phone or fold their laundry in the living room when those boys are over and explain that your daughter(s) don’t know how. They should move pretty quickly to keep the parental types out of their personal space and away from any embarrassing situations. More work than throwing out the clothes but may also keep the rooms neater and laundry done in the long run.

  162. My solution to a similar problem was to charge my son everytime I had to pick up one of his nasty adolescent boy socks when they appeared any place other than a laundry hamper. A buck a sock. I made maybe $3 & that was the end of the sock problem. Worked like a charm.

  163. I have this same problem with my husband. Every now and then I go on laundry strike. Then I ask our 4-year-old to show Daddy where the laundry baskets are and she gives him a tour of the three laundry baskets in the house and he improves for a bit.
    Although I just found a really nasty cache of gym clothes that have been marinating in the garage for God knows how long.

  164. I just went and picked up the clothes that were lying next to my laundry basket.

  165. Now if I could only find a way to get my husband to put his dirty clothes in the hamper. What I don’t get is, he has great aim for everything else ie: darts, baseball, etc. but he can’t seem to get his freaking underwear even close to the basket. Go figure.

  166. Remember that big pile of dirt that came from the plant boxes? Bury the clothes under there and make them dig ’em out. Tell them that if they don’t hit the hamper, they’re going back in the yard.
    Lots of good motivating suggestions from the others too. Aren’t moms and dads great?

  167. Bold stance on being willing to give up access to the room behind the wall of clothes. I’m guessing there’s no fibre in there.

  168. I love the spinning. I have some fleece artist just like that, but am forcing myself to spin with less lovely fleece, until I have practiced a little more (just got my wheel 2 weeks ago).
    With my son it is dishes, as well as laundrey, although since DH put the dirty plates and empty cookie pack in his bed things have improved.
    I tried to teach him how to use the washing machine when he was 10 (14 now) I think he did it 4 times and that was it. It’s my summer challenge.
    My daughter who is now 20 and has been on her own for 3 years, still calls when she can’t see the floor and we do a massive clean out.(It is getting less frequent I’m happy to say)

  169. if it’s any consolation, boys are no better (sean’s a tween, but close enough for government work!) my pile ends up in the bathroom in front of the tub, between the sink & the toilet (my bathroom is so small you ahve to open the door to change your mind). i have to nag continuously to get them to pick it up after they shower in the morning. and then there’s the clothing they shed in their sleep. my boys go to bed in shirts, underwear & socks (yes, liam & sean, i just advertised to the WORLD what you wear to bed). inevitably, i find socks & shirts flung ont he floor, along with the towels they shed whent hey get dressed, and various blankets that they fling when they’re too hot in their sleep. suffice it to say, the blankets are being winnowed down to 1 each with the onset of summer.
    anyway, don’t feel bad, boys are just as bad/worse.

  170. Just this morning I gave my 12 year old a lecture about what being a grown-up was (in the presence and for the benefit of his father, too.) I told him that being a grown-up meant that you cleaned up after yourself. When you’re a baby, your mommy has to clean up after you. But a grown-up cleans up after him/herself. If Mommy (or anyone, fairy or not) has to clean up after you…well. Aren’t there certain priveleges associated with being grown up?
    And going along with the general consensus here, that purse looks pretty nice. I’ll trade you some wool for it….

  171. Disgusting, absolutely gross. Shovel the crap into their rooms, or take the clothes to Goodwill. They have too many clothes! Stick to your guns, Stephanie; that pile is masty.
    And yes, I have four children 19-25, and no, they do not leave messes around my house (2 kids) or their apartments (2).

  172. You continue to terrify me with what my daughter may morph into in eight or so years. My 16 year-old sister stayed with us for a month in our ever shrinking 2 bedroom apt. She has been home almost two weeks and she still has a pile of clothes in my daughters room and the jelly I asked her to clean up has been walked up on our socks. I broke down and cleaned the make up on the bathroom floor myself. I took this as my first hand preview of my bleak and scary future. I am appropriately terrified so you can stop making sure I’m prepared now.

  173. lordy lordy – you get huge props for even DOING their laundry, let alone avoiding picking it up.. battle on girlfriend, they’ll thank you one day. (ps I stopped doing my daughter’s laundry when they were 11 yrs old.. it cut down considerably on the trying-it-on-throw-it-in the-dirty-pile trick)
    Now they are grown up and say thank you (although my 22 yr old still brings dirty clothes to wash when she visits… hah!

  174. Just be careful of what you threaten. This reminds me of a story my cousin-in-law Char told us recently about her son Austin, a precocious 6 year old with sun streaked blond hair, big brown eyes and beautiful eyelashes. Char was tired of picking up Austin’s toys and putting them away or nagging him to do it. So she sat him down and said that he needed to put his toys away himself and she wasn’t going to remind him any more & anything left on the floor she was going to throw away. All went well for about a week with Austin putting away all his toys. Then one nite when she went in to say goodnite to him, there were a bunch of toys in a pile on his floor. As she walked in the room, Austin said (batting his eyelashes all the while) “Mommy, those are things that I don’t want anymore so it’s okay for you to throw them away for me”. Score Austin 1, and Mom 0.

  175. After all the previous comments about piles of clothes, which were either very funny, very scary, or right on target, I have to ask this; why do we not mind picking up after our own messes, but really, really hate to pick up after other people? I’m not a mom but have taught DH to put it in the hamper or it won’t get washed. It took just once of running out of clothes. Now he sorts it into the proper compartment of a 4 bin system. Today’s our 33 anny. It is a nice gift.

  176. OHGOOD LORD! I have 3 girls, my hamper is right next to the washer AND the bathroom which is outside of their BEDROOM DOOR and their clothes don’t often make it in either! lol Bless us all.

  177. Yes, I agree with all those who said that any clothes on the floor get donated to Salvation Army–or whatever the donation place is in Toronto. When my oldest wanted new carpet for her room, I looked around and saw not one square inch of carpet. All clothes. I told her she had the most expensive carpet in the world–wall to wall clothing. I told her if she kept the floor clean she could have new carpet. Didn’t work.You daughters, lovely and sweet as they are, need some reality therapy. Clothes on the floor are a donation. End of story. when they have their own apartment they can maker their own rules.
    Meanwhile the little red sweater is sweet!

  178. Well I for one am glad they are at least starting to do their own laundry. I’m ROTFLMAO at some of these suggestions. I think the easiest thing for you to do now would be kick it all into the closest childs room and let the chips fall where they may.
    At our house the rule is, I don’t care what your rooms look like, but I care what mine look like, so keep your clutter to yourself. There were two big points that have to be followed: no food or dirty dishes anyplace that will attract bugs, and there has to be a path from the door to your bed to the window, in case the firemen have to come rescue you…
    Love the fiber both before and after spinning. Any chance the baby will be named Erle?

  179. You just described my life w/ a 15 yr old daughter to a tee. I’m glad to hear that this is survivable. I have a feeling someone will be sleeping in the playhouse outside this summer.

  180. I don’t think I’ve grown out of this phase just yet. (I’m 26) I have a hamper in the closet. The clothes only make it inside when it’s time to hit the laundromat. There’s socks in the living room, underwear in the bathroom, piles in the bedroom… my clothes just don’t seem to be meant for the hamper!

  181. woooow. yall are a mean bunch ;o
    i dont even remember ever having a problem about laundry, maybe cause i wore a uniform from age 5 to 17….and didnt have much other clothes – pretty much lived in that uniform – no jeans until i bought my first pair in college (i was 18!).
    as one of five girls with two very neat freak parents we knew better then to leave ANYTHING on the floor.
    and since we all shared rooms (at least two to a room sometimes three when little) and in our day kids didnt have as much stuff as they do now.. we were a neat bunch
    maybe thats why i am a packrat now!

  182. If you were my mom, you’d confiscate what missed the hamper, and make me “earn” those items back. (With chores or something similar.)

  183. If that fails..Threaten to throw out what is lying on the floor near the hamper…
    I am so NOT looking forward to my two girls becoming teens…But I will be armed….lol

  184. Have you tried having the clothes not in the hamper “disappear”? After a while they might notice the lack of clothing & actually be willing to bribe you with promises of better behavior to get their things back.

  185. Anyone who has not lived through this kind of thing won’t believe that it’s an unsolvable problem. But that’s how teens are.
    The good news: They grow out of it.
    The bad news: Not until they move out.

  186. You have so many posts that I haven’t read them all- but as a teacher known as ‘The Rotweiler’ at work and ‘The Dragon Lady’ at home to himself and daughter- may I suggest a large black bin bag- put said clothes in it- hoping that they are treasured possesions- and put them out for charity/ good will- after once doing this- the threat alone the second time will be enough- if you are feeling guilty/ maternal (same thing?)then give them a heads up the day before- but honestly DO IT- it WORKS!! All the best- boys jumper looks FAB! Spinning looks very NORO ( that is meant as a compliment I LOVE Noro) regards NH.

  187. Lovely sweater!
    I think the only people who truly understand the function of hampers are mothers. You would think that in 30 years of life, my darling husband would have figured out that it’s no more effort to toss his dirty underwear IN the hamper than it is to toss it NEXT TO the hamper. This unfortunate misconception that tossing things on the floor so they are touching the basket is less work has rubbed off on our not-quite-6-year-old (one doesn’t dare call her 5 anymore, she’s not 5, she’s “almost 6”). Equally amazing that it doesn’t matter how many pairs of their socks (thank God she only eats the cheap store bought ones) or underwear the dog eats, they still haven’t learned their lesson.

  188. Aah, is to laugh — remember those times well.
    You, too, will survive it if you keep one thing in mind:
    Talking to teenagers is as fruitful as nailing Jell-o to a tree —
    don’t remember where I first hear it; but it most certainly is true.

  189. Maytag has a new washer dryer system which does not work unless a different thumbprint is alternated on the press-pad each time laundry is done. I hear they are cheap, and the laundry fairy would get at least one respite every other load. Somebody was thinkin’ to come up with that one.

  190. You could always try what my Dad did to me once. I guess I wasn’t picking up my toys, leaving them everywhere. (I was young, I don’t remeber this, but the parents have told me this story numerous times) So my Father threatened to toss them out on the lawn. Which he actually did. I guess I cried and picked up my toys.
    Maybe you could hide your extra dirt that way. 😀

  191. We all have bad habits, it’s not just the kids! The problem with trying to correct bad habits is we don’t think when we are doing them. They are at this point unconscious (that is why we call them habits and not actions). We all need reminders at the point that we are doing the thing to remind us not to. It has to come from within in our own brains. I can think of no other way to rmember not to do something than the horrible consequence of doing it. It is NOT remembering to put the clothes in the hamper that will help. It IS remembering that the last time the clothes were not put in the hamper they dissappeared and created a hassle to get back. That disturbing memory may insure that the clothes are put in the hamper and not left around it. But then again, I was a very slovenly teenager who didn’t care about clothing. It may not work for all!!!
    Good Luck.
    Love the spinning.

  192. When my sister and I were young teenagers our spot of choice for leaving our clothes was in the corner on the bathroom floor. Mom got so fed up she threatened anything that was left there would be hanging on the front porch when we got home from school. It’s a pretty heavy threat to a 13 year old when you live in a small town,one block from main street and every school bus drives by your house twice a day. I cleaned up my stuff since the threat and my sister came home only once to find her undies hanging out front. We learned.

  193. Oh God Stephanie.
    I don’t know what to say! I am laughing and I am shriveling a little inside because I am 32 and my laundry is on the floor of my bathroom and bedroom and I have a laundry hamper that I bought for myself! And still I don’t use it.
    Egads. I am embarassed now. Time to go get on that laundry.
    Love the Laundry Fairy – but gee, she just walks right on by at my place too…she is a fickle one.

  194. You can always try a different tactic–if it’s on the floor and not in the hamper, obviously they don’t care about it, and therefore you can toss it/donate it to charity/sell it on ebay/hold it hostage for an unspecified amount of time. If everything they leave on the floor is repossessed by you, with the possibility of it going to a new home, they might be more likely to pay attention to where it goes. I’m planning on trying that in a few years when my short person does that. For his dad, though, I have to pitch a hissy fit. 😉

  195. Mes condoléances! I wrote a Toastmasters speech about how doing laundry was like extreme mountain climbing – the best line was – ‘There are Everests of underwear, Himalayas of hamper contents and “piles of unwashed Matter”-horns.’ Nothing has changed in the 10 years since I wrote that speech.

  196. I always say pick your battles and yours is a good one. Stick to your guns, not only is your sanity at stake but their future husbands will appreciate this stand you take….think about how much bickering you are saving your daughters as they learn this lesson to be considerate of others having to look, smell and walk over their undies. OR….you could collect whatever doesn’t hit the hamper and make they pay for it to get it back. That was my evil twin speaking!

  197. I’m with many of your other commenters – ransom the clothes! These are teenage girls – they’ll notice rather quickly that their clothing stash is in danger.

  198. Try why my mother did: anything on the floor at the end of the weekend (fair enough, we’d had a few days to deal with laundry etc) went into a refuse bag in the back of her cupboard. At the end of the month, it went to Goodwill.
    No amount of pouting, tantrums etc was going to get it back….

  199. Ok. Now I know what my mom had to deal with all these years!! You want to know one way to get them to do pick up their stuff? Get a garbage bag and throw the clothes not in the hamper in there and then put it somewhere they won’t find it. Every item of clothing not in the hamper goes missing. When they ask where something is you can then ask “Oh was it in the hamper? As you know I am only responsible for the clothes in the hamper.” If the clothes start hitting the hamper then slowly return the clothes from the ‘Bag of Doom.’ Its their mess right? Well sometimes the mess just ends up where it belongs…in the trash. (Of course actually throwing things away would then increase the necessity for clothes buying. If they simply refuse to comply with the ‘Bag of Doom’ plan have a yard sale, they can either buy back their clothes or you have more wool money!)

  200. I have a friend who broke her husband of the laundry on the floor by very carefully folding it up and putting it back in the drawers. After a few weeks of rewearing the same socks and underwear, he started to notice they didn’t smell very nice. She explained that if it wasn’t in the hamper, it must still be clean so she had thoughtfully put it away for him. While it was more work for her for a few weeks, it did have lasting results.
    My second oldest (I have 4, currently 20-26 but only the youngest is still at home) informed me one day that if you spray Febreeze on your clothes, you can get a few more wearings out of them. I personally don’t recommend it but after all, he is male so what can I say.
    While I like the idea of throwing stuff away, I would never have been able to do that because I couldn’t afford to replace the stuff and my kids couldn’t either so…..
    I am an only child and my mom didn’t work (outside of the house that is!!) when I was growing up so I didn’t know anything about laundry till I got married. But there again, I also didn’t know about cleaning bathtubs and toilets, or stoves or defrosting the fridge. The freezer really confused me – it kept getting smaller and smaller until I called home one day and asked my mother what was happening. After she picked herself off the floor from laughter, she told me the difference between frost-free which she had, and “suffer, baby, suffer” which is what the apartment we had rented, came with.

  201. I have a friend who picked up all his kids clothes that were on the floor and put them in a bag and told them they couldn’t have them back until they started handling their laundry properly. After they ran out of things to wear, they started to cooperate. Good luck!

  202. Love your posting today. What jumped off the page at me, though, was not the comments on laundry, but two words “same diff”. It instantly made me a little homesick for the place where everyone talks like I do. I haven’t heard that expression since I left Kingston.
    Have you ever thought of posting pictures of their laundry… individual, embarrassing shots… if they don’t put the laundry in the hamper?
    I feel your pain!

  203. Don’t touch the laundry? This laundry fairy makes misplaced laundry DISAPPEAR! Off the face of the planet!
    First, find yourself a good hiding place (where not even THEY would think of looking) Then, when they have ignored your lovely hamper, ZAP ‘dem clothes into the prepared clo-zone! All it takes is a couple of “Where’s my….” and “Who took my….” answered by “If it is not in the hamper, it is gone” (very, very quietly). Live by this, and you too will have a clean hall….(the bedrooms are harder)

  204. The sweater is gorgeous! 🙂
    About the clothes on floor issue – I have two brothers who did the same thing (I threw my clothes on the floor, but it was in my own room). My mother had two solutions.
    1. If there is no laundry in the hamper, then there will be no clean laundry later. This worked for me, I’m a girl, I was a ballet dancer, I like clean clothes and hate dirty tights. My brothers were jocks. They couldn’t care less.
    2. Any and all items found in the hallway will be confiscated and donated to the garbage truck. Mom followed through on this one – everything went in a garbage bag and out to the garage until Thursday when the garbage man came by (she did pull out things like sweaters from grandma, etc., and hid them elsewhere in case the bag did go in the garbage truck). Miraculously one of my brothers would go get the bag and put the contents in the hamper. About two weeks of that and they were cured.
    You might try that. Or the no laundry thing. I know from experience that most teenage girls do NOT like to wear dirty clothes.

  205. Clothes on the floor? How about clothes in the Living room, kitchen, darn near anywhere they can be dropped. Then there is the sports equipment, dirty sports uniforms, shoes, empty drink bottles, dirty dishes, socks, backpacks, and baseball caps. Baseball caps EVERYWHERE!! And although I have three kids, my 15 year old is responsible for most of this! My 19 year old will leave jackets draped over kitchen chairs (oh and his motorcycle helmet and gloves on the kitchen table), but most of his clothes go in the laundry room – it helps that his bedroom is right next door. Besides he made a point of learning to do his own laundry before we went to college, so now any time I launder any of his clothes, he considers it a huge bonus and is appreciative. The youngest is horrible about his socks and shoes (and bathroom towels in the kitchen – don’t ask me why), but the majority of his clothes end up in the hamper in our bedroom, so it is not much of a problem, except for that sweatshirt that he insists must live on the corner of the kitchen bench. But we’re getting a new puppy soon. That seems to take care of the shoes everywhere problem pretty quickly. Puppy destroys a favorite pair of shoes, and suddenly, every stray shoe, sock and item of clothing ends up behind a securely closed bedroom door.
    Have you tried the teething Labrador Retriever puppy cure, Steph?

  206. PICK UP THAT MESS-ONCE.(or at least once a day for the next week.
    pick the stuff up (clean dirty, what ever) and put it into a black garbage bag. then hid (in a dark spot, like under bed) the bag. don’t let them have the clothes you pick up!
    eventually, your kids will notice, my gym clothes are missing, my favorite jeans are missing.. my shoes, my sneakers..
    Pick up the stuff every day, and by the end of the week, enough stuff is will be missing (and you’ll be hard pressed to find hiding spaces, but think of the attic, or the basement (or the best, under the claw footed tub, if you have one!) that your kids will begin to notice.
    act as if you have no idea where things are..
    look at them as they look at you (you KNOW THE LOOK) and say? What stuff? Where did you leave it? –Oh.. the pile that used to exist outside the bath room door? the pile i told you again, and again was unacceptable? you mean you actually are complaining to me that you can’t find stuff left where it didn’t belong?
    make them suffer. wait till they are down to taking off their clothes, and doing a load of wash in their PJ’s to have clean clothes for tomorrow. (and if they are still leaving stuff on the floor, be totally heartless leave them with the option of going to school in PJ’s!)
    they will only change their behavior when it hurts them.. (when their friends say–You wore that skirt/shirt/stuff yesterday, and the day before? don’t you have any clothes? )
    (think of asking a neighbor for use of their garage.. your kids will never think to look in neighbors garage for their clothes..)
    Right now they have no ‘down side’ to their bad behavior (it pisses you off no end, but it doesn’t bother them.)
    and if they aren’t bothered, why should they make an effort to change their behavior? take the clothes away.. you get a cleaner upstairs hall (what you like) and they get negitive consquences to their behavior (none of their clothes!)
    its very effective, and i think you are just hard hearted enough to let your kids be embarassed for a week or two.
    and don’t return the clothes all in one felled swoop.. return 1 bag, and make sure that they don’t back slide once they have more clothes…
    every week that there are no clothes on the floor, give them back another bag.. (and make it their job to wash the stuff!)
    this kind of tough love works.

  207. This worked at my house… all clothes on the floor end up in a bag, hidden away until there are no clothes left! Mean, but it works.

  208. Amen Stephanie! My Mom practiced some tough love on my and my three sisters which led us to being responsible adults. At least in the clothes department. The kicker for me was having three wool sweaters I’d paid for myself shrunk down to cabbage patch kid size, re: the laundry fairy doesn’t do specials. Argh.
    But I’m thankful the internet and blogs did NOT exsist at that time. I know Mom would have gleefully posted the most embarrassing pictures of our slovenliness.
    For my daughter, she knows the way of the hamper now. Damp clothes left in the bathroom were deposited on her pillow until she got the hang of picking them up too.
    Stand your ground, sending them out into the world ignorant of basic skills doesn’t do them any favors.

  209. You GO,Mom! Don’t back down. Parents must NEVER lose in a battle of wills!
    Love Erle. Love the fibery goodness.
    BTW, am I the only one who sees the words “Yarn Harlot” and ALWAYS, ALWAYS immediately things “Yaaaaarrrrn Haaaaarrrrlot” a la that old song “Sky Pilot”? Please, tell me I’m not the only one…

  210. I raised my boys in the era of button-down oxford shirts (starched and ironed). They’d take a shirt out of the closet, reject it for another and instead of hanging it back up, stuff it in the hamper.
    See? Puppies are a whole lot easier. Next time we’ll know.

  211. I have a husband like that, too. Though he explains that there is a method to his madness: if it is on the floor, it is still wearable. If it is in the hamper, it is ready for washing. However, when the pants that are supposedly still usable have dust all over them (the vacuuming fairy is even more fickle than the laundry fairy), there is a morning I Have No Pants Fit. Clearly, the clothes must go In. Drawers. Or. In. Hamper.
    Seven year old daughter now has a hamper and does exactly the same thing.
    I’m going on strike.

  212. First, I have to say that I’ve been scanning your comments and you are blessed with a wonderful and creative readership… I’m taking notes, people, because your suggestions for dealing with intransigent adolescents are wonderful… second, why are you keeping Joe on a leash again? The embarrassing father is a great deterrent to losers who are not worthy of your offspring. My father has a habit of running naked every morning from his bedroom to the coffee maker and back… you can bet that the first college boy who wanted to pull an all night study (yes, study) session at my house had to pass the, “sure, but first you must pretend to be fast asleep at 5:30 am” test… and he forgave me for my crazy family and married me anyway. Crazy families keep adolescents sane. And as for the laundry, I have no suggestions–people in houses made small by fantastic loads of really important crap can not afford to throw books, laundry, skeins of yarn or dirty socks at anyone else’s domestic conundrums…

  213. Ah, advice. There is a lot of good stuff in the comments. It comes down to: what do you feel comfy with? Are you a hardliner or a marshmallow. A bit of both? (Aren’t we all?) I don’t have or haven’t had teenage girls. I was once one and I still feel bad about some of the crap I tossed out and I’m in my 50’s. I do have a 14 month old dog and you know, some of the training stuff works some of the time. And the rest is just me and hubby winging it, deciding what battles to fight, what we’re willing to put up with and just loving him a lot. Yet knowing: We Are The Designated Adults. It’s ain’t easy love.

  214. Rules of Managing Teenagers (from a teenager):
    #1:Threats are infinitely more effective than bribes.
    #2:Threats don’t work if they aren’t sincere. Carry them out.
    #3:Ultimatums and threats are interchangable.
    #4:Money isn’t everything – but public standing is. Embarrassment works.
    This works in most areas of daily life. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I haven’t found any yet.
    And remember – a college student (future or present) should only have as much laundry as she/he is willing to carry up and down 5 flights of stairs at $3 a load.

  215. re: laundry. i *had* a similar prob with a teenage son’s shoes being left in front of the doorway. i gotta say, a warning and a couple of times wordlessly tossing the shoes onto the front lawn have worked wonders. the shoes are now left *beside* the door so other people can use the door. it helps a lot if they think you might be a little bit crazy.

  216. You know…I heard that there was this mom who Ebay’d everything her family did not put in their proper place. Her house is now spotless.
    Just sayin…

  217. Throw the stuff out the window. Tidies up the hall and cuts down on future laundry. Works best when it is raining, but I do this year round. I find it far more amusing than do the offspring.

  218. When each offspring here turned 12, they were issued their OWN hamper. To be kept in their OWN room.
    From then on, they did their OWN laundry.
    It’s worked like a charm. Both of them were nonplussed by laundry in college.
    Buy more hampers, issue as necessary, and personally do less laundry.

  219. Okay, okay… since I last posted, I remembered the perfect “Laundry karma story”… My kids do their own laundry, and the rules are “if it’s in the washer, move it to the dryer, if it’s in the dryer and it’s not dry, cycle it again.” My daughter, A. Put off her laundry to the last frelling gasp and in an effort to get her laundry done B. dumped a load of MY clothes that were not finished drying in my room. I yelled a little bit, but nothing set in until she came into my room one moring wanting to borrow my white sweatshirt because hers were all dirty. I said sure–she brought it back a minute later because it smelled funny–I said “YOU were the one who violated the rules of laundry karma, and it just came back and bit you on the ass…” It was beautiful… so relax… don’t fuss about it, karma works. Laundry karma obviously works better than bleach and warm water…

  220. I am concerned. My children are not old enough to have bad laundry habits yet however their father is setting the example for them. He is a contractor and as a result, his work clothes are a horror story all their own. This in and of itself is not the end. Oh no. When they come off they go in the laundry room on the floor (in front of the empty washing machine)where they will sit until the pile is so big I can no longer get to the trash can and am forced to ignore them no longer. I am doomed. I have tried all methods of rectifying the problem. I am doomed.

  221. Here I thought the hamper thing was a sex-linked trait and only men, specifically my husband and son, piled dirty laundry right NEXT to the hamper. Hm. I guess I stand corrected. Don’t let them know that.
    Gorgeous handspun!

  222. You could always do to them what my well-meaning mother did to me. She’d take all the clothes that were not being put where she expected and put them in a huge black trash bag. I then had to buy them back from her. Works especially well when they don’t have easy ability to just buy more clothes. And if they leave it for more than .. say .. a month? Donate it to Goodwill/Salvation Army/etc. Obviously, it wasn’t that important.

  223. I didn’t read all 236 comments so maybe someone else has said this. But, when similarly confronted with such offending behavior, I did find it very effective that said clothing just disappeared not to be replaced. I was fair – I gave advance notice. Another possibility: gather it all up out of reach of teenagers and only dispense one outfit. When they prove they can handle that responsibility, they can have a second outfit, and so on. Good luck!

  224. The red sweater and the spinning look great. So far as the ignored hamper. Have you tried, “If it winds up on the floor and not in the hamper, then it ……must be trash and you will recycle (give to the poor) all that doesn’t make it into the hamper or back into their room.” [You can, of course, put the offending clothes someplace safe in case they cannot find another white blouse for the concert, etc.] Once something is lost that is held dear, then maybe the behaviour will be altered?

  225. I have nothing new to add–speaking as a slob, give the clothes from the floor to a charity. I have to say that it may take them awhile to even notice that the clothes are missing. They will no doubt forgive you after some time, but they won’t forget that yoou ‘threw away’ some favorite. (My mother cleaned out my dresser when I was in the 8th grade and I haven’t forgotten what she threw away, and I’m going to be 59 in two weeks!)

  226. My motto is if it is IN the hamper, it gets washed. If it isn’t, it doesn’t. It is amazing how many items will make it into the hamper when they don’t have their favorite jeans because it wasn’t in the hamper! It solves the problem quite quickly. Of course, you have to be willing to let the pieces lie on the floor while they are still in the learning curve! (This goes for husbands too!)

  227. A couple of things here. First, my advice is to pick up their delightful messes, take them to the back yard and bury them with only a tiny corner sticking out for the girls to cry over. Give them smallish shovels and let them dig em up.
    I have no daughters, only cats. They do however drag their catnip mice into my bathroom and leave them lying there. If my cats don’t stop, I’ll bury their mice….
    Second, I am sorry, but what is Erle? For that much what is a gansey? As you can surmise, I’m fairly new at knitting. Love your work though.

  228. Erle is the red sweater that is shown in the top picture of Stephanie’s blog entry for May 26th. She is kniting it for the male half of a set of twins.
    A gansey is a kind of sweater. Do internet search of “gansey” to see examples.

  229. My 4 yr old didn’t know what to do yesterday when she took off her dirty clothes on a sleepover at grandma’s because her hamper wasn’t there, it stopped her in her tracks. She’s young though, she can still outgrow it and end up like her dad. I have resorted to occasionally taking everything that he leaves around the house and shoving it into his side of the bed, and then making the bed over the heap. He’ll have to deal with it if he wants sleep, and it’s no longer something I have to look at. Childish? Maybe, but I don’t remember picking up dirty socks being in the vows, unless that’s covered under the vague “or worse.”

  230. Fear not, oh wise mother of teens. This too shall pass and you will be cool once more in the eyes of your kids. Fast forward about seven years when they beg forgiveness for the frustration they caused you in their teen years. It happens. Think on this….if they’re blessed, they’ll have two year olds and teens of their own. I’m just sayin’.

  231. I solved the problem – I use the hamper as a yarn stash receptacle and put a basket next to the hamper. Clothes go into the basket or do not get laundered. No one ever looks into the hamper! Worked for 2 boys and now for husband.
    Good luck – love your site! Carol in Alabama

  232. Oooh, it looks like we’re all in good company. My three girls don’t understand when I get upset about their wanting new clothes because I can’t see buying them new ones to sit on the floor of their room. After all, it’s clothing not carpeting.
    Two of the three do their own laundry but in a new and novel twist have starting using the laundry/mud room as their personal hamper. Aargh.

  233. I have a friend who used to put all his children’s offensive things IN their beds. Dirty clothes…in the bed. Dirty dishes left on bedroom floor for X days/weeks…in the bed. Forgot to clean out the cat’s litter…yes, and I’m not kidding here…in the bed. It doesn’t take much yucky cat litter to get the point across.
    Alternatively, you could just put the clothes in a garbage bag and hide them until they have no clothes left.
    You are me in 10 precious years (my girls are almost 2). Reminde me of what I’ve written when my time comes!

  234. How about a garage sale that you advertise to all their friends? You keep the money for new yarn of course. It is your pay for picking them up, wahing and tagging for the sale. They may buy them back at 50% more than the public.

  235. My mother tried unsuccessfully to get me to pick up my clothes. She threatened to throw away everything she found on the floor. She threatened often. Then one day she actually did it. I about died. BUT… I stopped leaving my stuff on the floor (although I’m still mad about her tactic!).

  236. When my daughter was a teenager, I got so tired of picking up clothes off the floor that I went berserkers one day and stuffed them all in garbage bags with every intent of taking them straight to the Goodwill. But I came to my senses and just hid them in the closet. After a few days of letting her sweat it out, I “sold” everything back to her at 10 cents per item. This worked for a while, then back to clothes on the floor. The clothes went back into garbage bags and were sold back at 25 cents per item. That lesson stuck. Except that now she’s an adult and her bedroom floor is littered with clothing…But I’m not paying the rent, so what do I care??

  237. My teenagers are now in their forties. For all of you in the “throws” (pardon the pun) of getting your teens to a)pick up their clothes; b)even aim toward the dirty laundry hamper, or, c) even take responsibility for washing said clothing, take heart. You are in a losing battle. Relax, enjoy the fact that they actually change their clothes, and muse on the fact that someday it will be “payback” time and you can stand back and watch them have the same battle with their children. In the meantime, pick up your needles and do something you enjoy.

  238. I think you should pick them up for them. With those big wicked shears you have. And then wash them repeatedly, until whatever was shorn ravels satisfyingly. Then quietly fold them and put them in their drawers. And then look at them steely-eyed when they shriek, and say, “I TOLD you to pick them up yourself.”

  239. I suggest that anything found in that spot and not in the hamper be considered a donation to charity. Gone. Out the door. No longer a wardrobe item for the former owner – no replacements purchased. Go out in your pajamas. Sleep in a formal. Or, keep the wardrobe you have. Your choice ladies. This way, teenagers are in control of their wardrobes’ destinies. They like to be in control, yes?
    Take this advice with a grain of salt. I don’t have any daughters. I’m the mother of a son – with a high tolerance for stacks of dropped clothing.
    That is, of course, the other alternative. Lower your standards for house keeping!

  240. Note to self: do not let my mother see this entry, because if she does, she is going to beat me repeatedly over the head with my own neglected hamper. I promise to try harder. ;_;

  241. You know, in high school I used to think my mother nagged at my brother and I to do things we didn’t want to do like cleaning up. But now that I live in a tiny Brooklyn apartment with an extremely messy boy, I completely understand where she was coming from.
    So, i guess threaten them with the karma effects of their actions?

  242. Newbie reader to your blog, enjoying it thoroughly.
    The problem is not the kids. It is the hamper. It is invisible.
    All clothing containing devices are invisible to children (and most husbands). Clothings natural enviroment is the floor or strewn across a chair.
    Hampers also have a natural invisible clothing catapult defense system. When clothes actually make it inside a hamper, it would be akin to putting a cat in a cage with a large dog. The hamper catapults the clothing out to ensure its survival.
    You are fighting against nature.

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