Share the Cleaning Week 2 – Lazy? Or just disinterested?

74% of mums say their teenager is extremely, very or somewhat lazy, and 65% say their teenager is more lazy than they were at the same age. Photo Credit: zdenadel via Compfight cc

74% of mums say their teenager is extremely, very or somewhat lazy, and 65% say their teenager is more lazy than they were at the same age.
Photo Credit: zdenadel via Compfight cc

By Emma Toomey.

74% of mums say their teenager is extremely, very or somewhat lazy, according to the recent Newspoll VIVA Share the Cleaning Survey.

But are our kids lazy? Or just disinterested?

Remember, this was a survey about cleaning. No one wants to clean. If it had been a survey about how often your teenager likes to hang out with friends, or go skateboarding, I’m quite sure we wouldn’t be saying they are “lazy”!

Perhaps what the survey is showing is that kids are not interested in cleaning, and don’t do much of it. And I have already written about how us mums are not taking the time to show them the ropes.

Laziness through the ages

Another statistic from the survey was that 65% of mums say their teenager is lazier than they were at the same age. Rachel from The Kids Are All Right asked her own mum about this. Did her mum do more cleaning as a teenager in the 1950s than Rachel did in the 1980s? “Yes, probably,” was the diplomatic reply!  How about her mum’s mum? Did she do more cleaning as a teenager in the 1920s?

Rachel’s mum recalled an argument she had as a teenager with her mother, because she dared push back on helping her mum clean. It was the 1950s and ‘the teenager’ was coming into their own – they had a life, they were a sub-culture, they had things to do and places to be. Rachel’s grandmother said she would never have dared question the authority of her own mother in the 20s – but this was the 1950s, and the teenager was a newly minted individual, beginning to fight for their rights.

In 2013, we certainly allow that our teenagers are individuals – young adults – who have lives and rights and thoughts and opinions. But they are young adults who still need to learn to clean and help out around the home.


We are into week 2 of the 30 Day Challenge, using an online calendar to help get our kids cleaning more.  And you know what? It seems to be working!

Ok, there was an early hiccup for Beck (CraftyPJMum):

What a weekend! It started off well and then BOOM ! Teens were to busy (lazy) to lend a hand…….

My cleaning party hit a low, no enthusiasm could be found and most things (as usual) were done by Mum. I get that 3 of them work, and they are tired. BOY I know that feeling, but push them along I will, it’s time for them to step up and realize that Mum is not a slave….they best be careful or I may just add to their list of chores :/

But this soon changed to:

WOW ! What a difference a week can make….
We are finally on the path to success. Makes my day when the chores are getting done without a million reminders, and one teen even stretched himself today when he even did chores that were not on his list I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO ASK HIM !! So glad I was sitting down when this miracle occurred.

Katherine wrote:

I am very happy to say that all tasks were completed 100% (and there were no clothes quickly stashed in drawers…)

And Miss Cinders from Saturday Morning Ogre Mum very eloquently wrote:



Eleise from A Very Blended Family thinks the reward system is working well, even though her kids are normally pretty motivated:

Last night we chatted about the cleaning challenge and Mr 16 piped up, “Do I win because I have the cleanest bedroom?” It is true! Mr 16 is really motivated by the driving lessons, we only have his once a week and some other times, like this weekend, so I have made each task worth 30minutes driving.

Rachel found it a good opportunity to teach a few basics:

She did a good job cleaning up the kitchen and I only had to call her back twice. There is definitely still an element of “teaching” about it – I had to show her to scrape the fat out of the roasting pan into the bin first, because I was afraid it was going to go into the sink. I feel almost ashamed that these are things I haven’t shown her before now!

We are concerned about a couple of our members though…

It’s been a lot of hard word for Becci from Birdy Num Num:

Finally got round to trying to get the kids involved in the cleaning today. And all I can say is I’m exhausted!

Hmm … something is not quite right there 🙂

And the last we heard from Janine at Shambolic Living, she was taking the kids out to dinner to break the news about the challenge. Janine, phone home.

If you’d like to join us or generally share the pain of getting teenagers to clean more, please visit our forum thread on the challenge. We also have some very lucky and clever members – Mimbles and Storm – who have great advice, and no need for the challenge. We bow at their feet.


 What do you think of the term “lazy”? Do you think kids are lazy? Do you think you were a lazier teenager than your own mum?

Read how Week 1 went – breaking the news to the kids!

Disclosure: Emma Toomey and The Kids Are All Right have been engaged by VIVA to share the survey results with the media. A few members on the forum who also blog about teenagers were offered a gift pack of VIVA products to try while they do the challenge – they are under no obligation to use them or mention them. (Mostly, we just want to get our teens to clean more.)



  1. I love the title of this blog, lazy or disinterested? I am don’t like cleaning, it is boring. This doesn’t make me lazy. I am loving the cleaning challenge, and motivating the kids with rewards, it is working. It is all about currency, some people are content with a clean house, others a thanks, kids need a bit more motivation.
    Eleise recently posted..Powers of Attraction or a Grateful Attitude?My Profile

  2. Sure, teenagers are lazy. They are full of hormones and emotions and anxiety, which is exhausting! I’m lazy when I’m tired too. However, I also have to do housework when I am tired. Motivation is the key. I am my own worst enemy, I have not provided a carrot. When I was a teenager my motivation was, if I don’t do it, I live in a pig sty! (Not just my room) I do everything! So my kids don’t need to. Recently that has changed and I am slowly teaching them to change the bad habits I myself taught them.

    • Great work Sandra – just think of what awesome housemates they are going to be when they leave home.

  3. Emma Toomey says:

    Great to hear everyone’s feedback about our varied levels of success with motivating our teenagers. I’ve definitely seen improvements at our place, not least of all a slightly heightened awareness of how much they have been getting away with, and dare I say…a bit of new found appreciation for how much I do! Triumph!

    I’ve decided to look at this challenge as an attempt at achieving some long term, systemic changes in the way the workload is distributed at our place – a marathon rather than a sprint you might say. To that end I’m determined to stick with it. I’ve definitely found the weekly calendar printouts a helpful reference point – my kids seem more inclined to comply with a written roster for some reason…who knew? We could be on to something here! As with most attempts at lifestyle change, we seem to take two steps forward and one step back, but I feel like steady progress is being made. Yipee!!

  4. My kids are lazy but only because they have me as shining example. I hate housework.
    Have had a little more success this week. Miss 14 has kept the bathroom clean and Mr 10 is keen to keep the back glass door clean and is dying to use the new Viva glass wipes. I just have to lower my standards a little till they get the hang of it and begin to take pride in their work. And I need to reward them more.
    Becci recently posted..I don’t do morningsMy Profile

  5. Playing devils advocate here but I’m voting with both hands for disinterested.
    There are very few adults I know that enjoy cleaning (I can count them all on one finger, seriously. And it’s not me…) but the difference between us and our children is that we see more value in it than they do. It’s not that they are lazy, it’s just not important to them – yet!
    Studies have shown that the adolescent brain doesn’t reach maturity until the mid twenties, so why do we expect them to think like us when they don’t yet have the capacity?
    Growing up doesn’t happen overnight or when they hit some magical age like 18 or 21(there are many men out there that debunk this theory lol).
    But given time I am pretty confident that most of our children will step up and not end up on shows like “Hoarders” etc.
    Time, my friends, is your enemy, not your children and patience is the friend you need to keep close 🙂

    Bow at my feet…wow, now I feel compelled to get my kids to polish the floors LOL
    Sent from my iPad

  6. Mine aren’t lazy, they can be super active and motivated about things they love. Me too!! But they do need to learn to clean and to have regular jobs otherwise they’ll never function in the big, wide world. I once had a boyfriend who couldn’t or didn’t clean, he was training to be an eye surgeon and I totally got that he had little time. But 20 bags of garbage in the garden and mess everywhere was just too much. He needed a wife or a slave… and lets just say it wasn’t going to be me. Shame!!
    Seana Smith recently posted..Things To Do In Sydney With Kids – This Easter 2013My Profile



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