How to Get Adult Family Members to Clean Up After Themselves 

Tired of cleaning up after adult family members? Whether it’s your adult children or a lazy spouse, if they aren’t pulling their weight around the home, it’s time to make a change.

The question is, how can you get adult family members to clean up after themselves? Discover some of the best tips you can utilize to whip them into shape below.

Raise the issue directly

The first thing you should do is to address the issue with the family member directly. You may have already done this multiple times, but were you calm and reasonable at the time? 

As frustrating as it may be, if you shout or criticize a family member for not cleaning up, they are more likely to become defensive. Talking to them in a calm and reasonable manner on the other hand, is more likely to get you what you want.

Tell them how it adds to your workload and explain the benefits of cleaning up after themselves. Ask them directly for help and see how they respond. Often, having a chat about them cleaning up after themselves is enough. However, you may be met with further resistance. 

Stop doing things that they could do themselves

Are you guilty of doing things that the other person hasn’t asked you to do? It could be picking up your partner’s socks or tidying away your adult child’s breakfast bowl that has been left on the side. These little tasks add up, and you really don’t need to do them. 

The next time they leave something lying around, leave it there. See how they react. You may find they annoyingly still do nothing about it right away. However, over time they will notice and have no choice but to tidy it away themselves. If they question you about it, politely tell them it isn’t your job to clean after them. 

When you do everything for them, it’s easy for adult family members to take you for granted. They may not even realize it is an issue. So, stop doing things that they could do themselves. They will soon start to become naturally tidier when they realize you aren’t doing it for them. 

Set up a chore chart

Think chore charts are just for small children? Think again! They can be great for motivating adult family members to clean. It also clearly shows who is responsible for each task. 

Divide the chores up fairly, ensuring each family member is responsible for their own mess. To begin with, you can each tick off the tasks once they are completed. This will help to get them into the routine of cleaning up after themselves. 

The tasks on the chart could be as basic as “Rinse breakfast bowl and place in dishwasher”, or “pick up dirty laundry and place in basket”. Once they have gotten used to tidying up after themselves, you can stop ticking off the tasks. 

Show appreciation when they do something

When they do something, you have asked, or even better without asking, make sure you show your appreciation. Yes, they should be cleaning up after themselves anyway and you don’t get any appreciation for the cleaning you do. However, when you show appreciation, it makes them feel valued. This in turn will encourage them to do more cleaning.

As they start to clean up after themselves and realize how much hard work goes into keeping the house clean, they may even start to show you a little more appreciation too.

Turn it into a competition

If you really want to encourage adult family members to get involved with the cleaning, turn it into a competition. It could be that whoever has done the most cleaning in a week gets a reward. When you turn it into a competition, it adds a level of excitement and boosts motivation. This is especially effective if the adult family member is a naturally competitive person.

Go on strike

Finally, if nothing else works, you can always go on strike. That is, you stop doing anything they could do themselves. If you want to go further, stop doing all of the cleaning. Now, this can be tricky to follow through with, especially if you can’t just sit back and let mess pile up. It may take a while for them to change, so you need to be prepared to wait it out.

Going on strike can be effective, but it is risky. They may simply carry on regardless, waiting for you to crack and do it yourself. However, if you focus on just avoiding doing anything for them specifically, you’ll find it much easier to follow through with.

When it comes to how to get adult family members to clean up after themselves, the above is some of the most effective methods you can try. Remember, it may take time to get them to change, especially if you have been cleaning up after them for years. This means you need to be consistent with whichever method you decide to use. 

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