January 12, 2016

My Sister’s a Complete Slob

Hi Nikki,

I share a bedroom with my little sister and she’s a complete slob! Every time I clean up our room, it gets messy again in just a few days, thanks to my sister.  She never picks up after herself, she throws her dirty clothes on the floor, and now she’s starting to eat in our room.  Just the other day, I found goldfish crumbs and an empty juice box on MY bed.  I never knew someone so little and cute could create such a big mess. HELP!

Sad Sister of a Slob

Hi Sad Sister Of A Slob.

OMG, Girlfriend! I totally understand how you feel! I thought I had it bad with Brianna spreading her KA-RAY-ZEE all over the house. But at least I don’t have to share a room with her! I HAVE had to share a room with her when we go to visit relatives, though, and we always have to share the backseat and the computer and the TV, so I can imagine what you’re going through…


My number one, most helpful piece of advice is this: Move into a spare cupboard or closet. Hey, it worked for Harry Potter!

For real, though, this is a head-scratcher. I assume if you guys are sharing a room, it’s only because you HAVE to. There’s no spare guest room you could move into or attic you could clean out. Because if you have any choices, you should take them. But I doubt you would have written to me if there was a spare room available.

Maybe your parents have decided you guys HAVE to share a room for sisterly bonding or something. (WHY do parents think they have to force that?? We’re already bonded by BLOOD!!!)

Okay, so the main problem is that your sister is a slob. I assume you’ve already tried talking to her nicely and patiently, and asking her to clean up her stuff and not use your bed as a picnic table? If not, do that. But the fact is, if she’s a slob, you’re probably not going to be able to change who she is.

You might, however, be able to come up with some guidelines that can keep you sane. Depending on how old your sister is and what your relationship is like, it might be good to involve your parents in this. I’m not the neatest person myself, but here are some ideas that make sense to me:

  1. No food in the bedroom. To make this work, you’d have to follow the rule, too. But it would probably be worth it if it keeps your bed clear of mouse-bait.
  2. No TV if there are clothes on the floor. (Or something else that’s important to no Nintendo Switch, no dessert or whatever.) Again, you’d have to follow the rule too, but it wouldn’t be difficult for you and it would be worth it. You’d want to be sure your parents are on board to help you enforce this rule, because she’s not going to want you acting like her mom and telling her she can’t have dessert. That’s going to end badly.
  3. Some kind of star chart like parents use for toddlers who are potty training. To get a star at the end of each day, her stuff has to be picked up. And then a certain number of stars adds up to some sort of reward for her.

No matter how many rules you put in place, though, you have to remember that she may just be naturally messy. If you push too hard, you’re both going to end up frustrated. She MAY even be trying her best, as hard as that is to believe. This might be one of those life stages you have to get through. And even if you don’t want to move permanently into a cupboard, maybe there’s a little nook somewhere that could be yours and yours alone—a closet or a tree house or a corner of a parent’s office that you could escape to for quiet, neat organization.

I hope that helps!!

How do you guys handle sharing a room with someone messy??