One aspect of teenage parenting I got right

Parenting teenagers isn’t easy. And I’ve got three of them.

My kids are a pretty good bunch. We don’t have any of the ‘serious’ problems of teenagers. No drugs, very little drink (the 18 year old, not the 13 year old!), no crime, no mental health problems. I’ve been lucky.

But, like most parents, I still feel like a bit of a failure sometimes.

Because my kids are flipping lazy. They can’t as much as put a breakfast bowl in the dishwasher. I try, I really do, especially with the 18 year old. But he makes his lunch and it’s like he’s blind to all of the things he’s left all over the kitchen surfaces. I tell him to tidy up after himself and he manages about half of it. But what about that bowl, that knife, that empty baked bean tin? He doesn’t care.

I wish I’d done more to get them to do chores at an earlier age. Now I ask them to set the table and all hell breaks loose because why didn’t I ask their brother? But I only did it on Tuesday, she hasn’t done it this week… Setting the table isn’t really much to ask, is it?

And not only are they lazy and messy, they argue. Constantly. Sometimes the arguments actually lead to them physically lashing out at each other. My eldest doesn’t usually throw the first punch or kick, but he will throw the first nasty comment, until eventually one of his siblings will hit him or kick him.

The words ‘prick’, ‘dickhead’ and ‘arsehole’ are used a lot – nearly always by the younger kids to their big brother.

At times like that, I wonder where I went wrong.

There will always be someone whose kids never say a cross word to each other. People whose eight year olds load and unload the dishwasher every day without being asked. AND THEN COOK A MEAL FOR THE WHOLE FLIPPING FAMILY.

But finally, FINALLY I have discovered where I do better than other parents of teenagers.

OK, so it’s not a big thing, but I’ll take it. You have to own these wins where you can.

I have a little group of fellow parents (bloggers and lapsed bloggers) I talk to regularly on Twitter. I think we’re all a good support to each other. Some of the others have been through some tough times and they know that our little gang of Twitter mums is always there whenever they need us – for support or just for a laugh.


My teenagers have one towel, which they use all week. Once a week, the towel will be washed, then it will be returned in time for their next shower. They don’t nick other people’s towels, they don’t use several towels a day.

What is my secret? I don’t know. That’s just always the way we’ve done things.

Now if only getting kids to put flipping bowls in the dishwasher when they’d used them was always the way we’d done things, I could be feeling pretty smug right now.

But it isn’t. I just have kids who will only use one towel at a time.

And my eldest leaves his damp towel on the floor every time. I didn’t say they were perfect, did I?

Towels, Towel rail, Teenagers, Parenting teenagers


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. You see, I read this and think eww mucky pups! It’s all subjective really isn’t it?

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    • It is! We all keep a towel for a week in our family. I have enough washing to do with people’s clothes, without having to wash towels every day or two. To me, if they’re drying clean bodies, why would they need clean towels every day?!

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  2. Ha ha, it’s one towel a week here too and always has been, and it was when I was growing up too! If they want more as they get older then there will have to be discussions about helping with the washing! As long as they are put on the towel rail (preferably a heated one) then I think it’s fine.

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    • I’m so glad to hear that others keep the same towel for a week too! It’s what I did growing up too. I like your idea about future discussions around help with the washing if the kids decide to start using more towels.

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  3. I think “it’s the way we have always done it” is the key. It’s so much harder to introduce the responsibilities once they get used to us doing them for them. I am also battling to sort this now in a few areas that I have managed to miss, it was probably quicker and easier just to do it myself!

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    • That definitely is the key! Glad to hear others struggle with a few areas they missed along the way. I do sometimes wonder if my kids do a deliberately bad job of setting the table so that I just do it myself the next time!

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  4. I have had my girls helping around the house for years but they are still lazy. They’ll walk over something on the floor instead of picking it up and always leave things out if they’ve made themselves something to eat. I’ve just found Babybel wrappers in the fridge from when my youngest was snacking after school. Ugh!
    Ahh! My girls always get a clean towel which drives me mad! I’ve said they can use it at least a couple of times but never do.

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    • You are one of my parenting idols because I know you get your kids to help out a lot. It’s interesting to read that they are still untidy and lazy despite this! We don’t even own enough towels for my kids to get a new one out every time.

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  5. We’re the same. Each has 1 towel although i have to say ours get aashed when they need it not every week. We obviously are really manky. I don’t have time or space during the week to wash, remove from machine, and dry 3 big towels when I’ve got 3 other wash loads to do as well. Tge place looks lije a chinese laundry as it is. Plus using more is bad for tge environnent.

    My 8yo does chores under nagging. But he is the only one so we don’t have rotas or disagreements like we hadxwhen we were kids. I’ve attempted him doing chores since he was 3 or 4 but it is still a struggle and usually doesnt get done.

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    • I agree there definitely isn’t the time and space for constantly washing towels. I wonder now how I ever coped with washing back in the day when I used to leave the house for work! It’s good that N does chores even some of the time. It would never have even occurred to me to help the kids to help out when they were 4 – or 8!

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  6. Oh this did make me smile! This is one aspect of parenting that I got wrong as I wash several towels a day. My 15 year old can have up to 4 showers a day and uses a clean towel each time and I am forever washing the damn things

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    • You know that you were one of the people who inspired me to write this post! Four showers a day is crazy. My kids don’t have more than one shower a day (and sometimes not even that at weekends/ in school holidays), apart from on very hot summer days.

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  7. Good for you! Mine aren’t even of an age where they wash every day yet but when they are I’m going to make sure we do this. Unnecessarily washing towels is terrible for the environment so I think that’s important.

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    • That’s a very good point about the environment! I do try to keep the environment in mind with a lot of decisions I take – from what I buy to whether or not to put the central heating on. X

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  8. I’m with you on towels. I’m sure H isn’t even aware that his gets washed as I tend to get in back in time for the next use too.

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    • That’s exactly the same as me. They get washed in the morning and are back on the rail by the time the kids get home from school.

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  9. As I said on Twitter, I need to know your secret! I’ve finally found a way to get mine to do more chores – we have a rota that has been agreed as fair and that is that. The towel situation though is a lost cause in this house. Pick your battles, I say!

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    • I think my only secret is that we’ve always done it this way with the towels. It’s good to hear you’ve found a solution on chores, I need to put some thought into that to see if I can come up with something. It’s definitely important to pick your battles. Kids who are a bit lazy can be frustrating, but there are definitely plenty of worse things they could be!

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  10. Now see I prefer mine to get clean towels – maybe use them a couple of times at most. But then mine do do a lot (cooking for the family etc), putting washing on etc – so guess I have more time to wash more. You do a lot more driving them around and stuff too – it’s all subjective and we are all just doing our best.

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    • It’s great that your kids help so much, I failed because I didn’t encourage it from a young age. My view with towels is that they’re only drying a clean body, so why do you keep needing clean ones? Also, the more washing I do, the more drying space I have to find! I do too much washing as it is.

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