It's no secret that kids are gross, but I had no idea just how gross they could be until my kids were old enough to take things into and out of their rooms. While having a new baby seemed disgusting at the time — with messes to clean-up, poop-filled diapers, and gallons of spit-up — that was nothing compared to what was to come. Beyond the baby years, I've discovered just how disgusting parenting can be, as evidenced by the gross things I've found while cleaning my kid's room. If you are prone to vomiting, you might want to stop reading.
My husband and I have five kids, ranging in age from toddler to tween. So it's safe to say that, over the years, we have pretty much seen it all. From the time they transitioned from their cribs to big-kid beds, we started finding things like a wide assortment of no-longer-edible food, wrappers, and used diapers (and their contents) in their rooms. I've learned that parenthood is not for the faint of heart... or the weak of stomach.
I know you might be wondering why I don't just give up and make my kids clean their own damn rooms. Believe me when I say I've tried, but I have to let you in on a little secret: parents can't really go on strike from cleaning. At best, we can simply delay the inevitable. Why? Because our kids' tolerance for messes is arguably way higher than ours. In my experience, refusing to help your kids clean their rooms for a while means that when you finally break down and decide to tackle their discarded toys, dirty clothes, and granola bar wrappers, you'll have to wear a hazmat suit.
Like most people, I am not a huge fan of spiders. Especially not living spiders, building webs in the corner of my kid's room or lurking under the covers of their bed. Unless, they are sending me messages written in their webs, I'm killing any spider I find in my damn house.
Or we're moving.
I freaking hate gum, and no matter how hard you try it's impossible to get your kids to keep it in their damn mouths. So it ends up on the bottom of their shoes, in their hair, on the underside of the table, or embedded in their carpet. It's so gross.
A Full Garbage Can
I learned the hard way to not reach into garbage cans in my kids' rooms. You never know what you are going to find — rotten food, used sanitary items, bugs, and maggots (yes, maggots). At least they used a garbage can for a change.
Apparently, my toddler was stealing apples out of the fruit bowl on the table and letting them rot in the toy box in her bedroom. The smell alone was one of the grossest things I have ever encountered.
No one told me that even potty-trained kids don't wipe very well for, like, years after they finally master the toilet. If there's a pair of underwear on my kid's floor it will nine times out of 10 have poop on it. I'm not ashamed that I sometimes just throw it away.
A Dead Mouse
One problem with having food in your bedroom is that it attracts pests. Like this mouse our cat killed, for example. Luckily, I disposed of it before one of my kids caught a glimpse.
The aforementioned experience was, however, totally better than the dead mouse I didn't find until it started to decompose.
I hate Play-Doh. Hate it. If someone ever creates a time machine, I am going to find the person who thought Play-Doh was a good idea and share a few choice words with them.
Candy From Halloween 2016
I am not one of those moms who doesn't let my kids have treats in moderation. Which is why I was so confused when I found out they were hiding Halloween candy in their room from, like, two years ago. It was inedible... and disgusting.
A Soda Can Of Urine
Then there was the time that my kids left a can of urine in the corner of their room. They had no explanation. I've never been so grossed out in my life.
A Dirty Diaper
Potty-training sucks, but it's way better than finding a dirty diaper hidden under your toddler's bed.
Speaking of pee, kids don't always tell you when they have an accident or wet the bed. So you find out there's been a pee-situation later, after it starts to smell.
A Year-Old Lunch Box
The other day I found my daughter's old backpack and felt a little weepy. Then I found her old lunch box inside, complete with a rotten apple and slimy carrot sticks. I decided I wasn't nostalgic after all.
There are so many slime recipes and products available for kids right now. I wish that wasn't the case.
A Moldy Swimsuit
Did you know that wet swimsuits can grow mold? Yep. That's what happens when your daughter keeps it in a plastic bag under her bed for safekeeping.
One day I found the old yogurt in my stepson's dresser drawer. I don't know if he was saving it for later or what happened, because he had no idea what I was talking about. I didn't eat yogurt for months afterwards.
We now have a rule that no food or beverages are allowed outside the kitchen and dining room. That rule was inspired by moldy juice boxes. I never want to drink apple juice again.
Wet Mildew-Covered Towels
My stepdaughter showers every night, which means a new soaking towel ends up in her hamper or on her floor. Being a tween means she gets more autonomy and freedom, but only if she agrees to wash the towels herself.
Warm Vanilla Scented Everything
Sometimes my tween stepdaughter is so quiet you wouldn't know she was there. That is, unless you walk by her room, which smells like she's covered every surface in vanilla body spray. Maybe she's trying to cover up the wet-towel scent?
There's nothing like stepping in cat vomit that your child neglected to tell you about. Ugh.
A Sippy Cup Of Old Milk
I used to joke that my son was an expert cheese-maker. He would take sippy cups of milk to his room and hide them in his bed. The next day that milk would be solid.
My daughter is obsessed with tissues, which is fine. I just wish they'd end up in the bathroom garbage, instead of on her bedroom floor.
Random Smear Of Something Unknown
Never taste anything you find smeared on the wall or floor of your child's room. Never. It's not chocolate.
Between bloody noses, used period products, discarded used Bandaids, and scraped knees, there's way more blood involved in parenting than I expected. So gross.