Hands down, one of the most frustrating things about having kids for me is getting them to clean their rooms!
I don’t know what it is about the task that my kids seem to do everything they can to avoid doing that. Or they ask if I can do it, or if dad can clean it, or if their siblings can help, (not opposed to that last one if they’re willing to help the other ones in return, but that’s rarely the case).
No matter how many times I try to explain that they’re responsible for their rooms and I didn’t create the mess so I’m not going to clean it, it’s just pulling teeth to get them to do it.
And we do this every weekend! I’m like I don’t get it, you know the deal, this is not new to you, why are you fighting this?!
I’ve tried a lot of different strategies, and while we’re still in the thick of this stage, (although does the stage ever end??) there are some things that have helped!
If you’re in this special phase of life with me, I see you…and hopefully these tips will help get your kids to clean their room!
Related: 9 Decluttering Tips For Busy Moms
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The Importance of Teaching Kids to Clean Their Rooms
Life Skills and Responsibility
Teaching your kids to clean their rooms is important because it helps instill a sense of responsibility and gives your kids the chance to learn valuable life skills.
When kids have a regular routine for maintaining their rooms, they develop time management and organization skills.
This is one of the first chores kids have and being consistent in cleaning their room lays the foundation for other responsibilities they’ll encounter in the future.
Organization and Reducing Stress
A clean and organized room can significantly reduce stress for both you and your child.
According to Psych Central, a clean space can improve mood, give a sense of control, and reduce stress and anxiety.
I know this is true for me because every time I walk into a cluttered, messy room my mood shifts and I’m instantly irritable because I can barely walk through the room and I don’t know where anything is. Sometimes I end up yelling at my kids because I get frustrated with how messy the room is!
But when I walk into a room that’s clean, those negative feelings aren’t there and I actually want to spend time in that room.
It’s the same for kids, they’re much more likely to spend time in their room if it’s clean and orderly versus messy and chaotic.
By establishing a routine for cleaning their rooms, you’re fostering their ability to organize, prioritize, and problem-solve.
When working with your child on their room, consider these tips:
- Make a plan: Begin with a plan that outlines specific tasks and goals. This helps guide your child so they know what steps need to be done, and it makes the process easier to follow.
- Use visual aids: You can use color-coded bins, labels, or designated baskets to assist in organizing their belongings. This can make it more enjoyable and make the process simpler for your child.
- Encourage regular maintenance: Schedule regular cleaning times to prevent the room from becoming unmanageable. This can be a weekly or even daily routine, depending on your child’s activities and needs.
By teaching your child the importance of maintaining a clean and organized room, you’re not only imparting essential life skills but also promoting a healthier, less stressful environment for them to thrive in.
Creating a Cleaning Routine for Kids
Teaching your kids to clean their room can be a challenging task as we know, but establishing a cleaning routine can make the process go more smoothly.
In this section, we’ll discuss how to create an effective cleaning routine, including establishing a schedule, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and using visual reminders and chore charts.
Establishing a Schedule
Creating a consistent cleaning schedule is crucial for helping your kids internalize their room cleaning routine.
Pick a specific day and time for cleaning, such as every Saturday morning or every other evening.
I’ve noticed that since we’ve chosen the weekends to clean rooms it’s helped to bring the whining down because they already know it’s coming.
Make sure to communicate these expectations clearly and stick to the schedule as consistently as possible. This helps your kids form a habit and normalize cleaning as part of their daily or weekly routines.
Breaking Down Tasks into Smaller Steps
Cleaning a room can feel overwhelming, especially for younger kids.
They often feel like they don’t know where to begin, which stresses them out and can then start to bring on bigger emotions.
To make it more manageable, break down the tasks into smaller steps. For example, instead of giving your child generic directions to clean their entire room, provide them with specific tasks like:
- Picking up toys and putting them away
- Placing dirty clothes in the hamper
- Putting clean clothes in the drawers or hang them up
- Picking up books and putting them away
- Vacuuming or sweeping the floor
By breaking the chore into smaller, more manageable tasks, your child will feel less overwhelmed and they’ll be more likely to complete their cleaning routine.
Visual Reminders and Chore Charts
Visual reminders and chore charts can be great tools for keeping your kids on track with their cleaning routine.
Visual charts/reminders are especially good for little kids who can’t read yet.
Create a chart with each specific task your child is responsible for completing. Use images or simple descriptions to help them understand their duties.
You can also incorporate fun elements like stickers or rewards for completing tasks.
For my kids, if they complete a chore chart, I’ve given rewards like they can go to the dollar store and pick a couple things out, or they can order a book. I’ve also used screen time as an incentive which has definitely helped!
Stickers or rewards make the cleaning routine more engaging for your child and it may even become a fun activity they look forward to.
Some examples of visual reminders include:
- A magnetic chore chart on the fridge, with magnets featuring each task
- A whiteboard with a list of tasks, allowing your child to erase each one as they complete it
- A simple printed chore chart pinned to your child’s bedroom wall or door
Creating a cleaning routine for your kids involves establishing a schedule, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and using visual reminders and chore charts.
This approach helps make cleaning a more enjoyable and less overwhelming experience for both you and your kids.
Incorporating Fun and Motivation into Cleaning
Speaking of an enjoyable experience, cleaning doesn’t have to be a boring chore for your kids.
You can try to incorporate fun and motivation into the process by making it fun and rewarding for them.
Let’s look at some simple strategies to encourage your kids to clean their room.
One way to make cleaning more enjoyable is by playing some music while your kids straighten up their rooms.
You can create a playlist of some upbeat music, (or if they’re old enough let them pick the songs) to get them in the mood and make cleaning feel like a fun dance party.
Music can turn a tedious task into an engaging activity that your kids will look forward to.
I know this is true because I’ve used this method myself many times and I’ve done it with my kids. It keeps everyone in positive spirits and they’re not focusing on the act of cleaning but more on the music they’re listening to.
Giving praise and rewards for a job well done can go a long way in encouraging your kids to clean their room.
When they complete a task or make progress in cleaning, offer praise and acknowledge their effort.
For example, you can try:
- Complimenting their creativity in organizing their toys/games/books
- Appreciating their hard work in dusting and vacuuming
- Praising them for putting their clothes away neatly
So often kids are reminded they didn’t do something right or to fix something, (ex: a chore they did needs to be re-done, homework needs to be fixed, etc.). By focusing on what they’re doing well at helps your kids feel good about their accomplishments and encourages them to continue their cleaning efforts.
Incentives and Allowance
In addition to praise, giving them incentives and offering allowance can help motivate your kids to maintain a clean room.
Consider creating a system where your kids earn an allowance or privileges based on their cleaning progress.
Some ideas could be:
- Earning points for each task completed, with points redeemable for fun activities or small rewards
- Receiving a bonus on their allowance for maintaining a clean room throughout the week
- Gaining extra privileges, such as more screen time, for completing cleaning tasks promptly
By implementing these strategies, cleaning their room becomes a more enjoyable and rewarding experience for your kids. Keeping the process positive helps your kids develop lasting habits.
Tips for Cleaning Specific Areas of a Child’s Room
Organizing Clothes and Laundry
With one of my kids, no matter how many times I tell them to put their dirty clothes in their hamper, and fold/hang their clean clothes, they never do! Their clothes end up everywhere but the correct place!
If clothes are a struggle for your kid, have them gather all the dirty clothes in the room and put them in a hamper.
Next, have them sort clean clothes into categories such as shirts, pants, pajamas, etc. Fold and organize these items in drawers or hang them up in a closet.
Encourage your child to put away their laundry and maintain organization by having designated spots for different types of clothing, (for example, a pajama drawer, school clothes are hung up in the closet, a pants drawer, an undergarment/sock drawer, etc.).
Dealing with Toys, Books, Games, and More
When it comes to the things in your kids room like toys, games, books, and other stuff, you can start by separating them and put them into categories based on their use, like school supplies, books, games, dolls, stuffed animals, etc.
Create designated storage areas for each category, such as shelves, bins, or boxes, to maintain an organized space.
Teach your child the importance of putting items back into their designated spot after use, and consider implementing a clean room picture trick to help them visualize a properly organized space.
Cleaning Surfaces and Windows
Cleaning all the surfaces and windows in your child’s room are what I would consider a deep clean. For my kids I don’t require them to do a deep clean very often, but you can decide how often you want your kids to do this part.
To tackle the surfaces in your child’s room, wipe down all furniture, shelves, and window sills.
You can clean those surfaces with a damp cloth and mild cleaning solution as needed, paying special attention to areas that are frequently used, like desks and nightstands.
Next, show them how to clean the windows with a glass cleaner and paper towels.
By focusing on this aspect of cleaning you’re showing your child how to maintain a healthy environment.
Addressing Resistance and Power Struggles
Setting Clear Expectations and Consequences
Now we get to the part that’s the most frustrating. The resistance and power struggles that come when you tell them to clean their room.
When you’re dealing with power struggles surrounding messy rooms, you have to ensure you establish clear expectations and consequences with your child.
Clearly explain to them the importance of keeping their room clean and how it will help them feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Be specific about the tasks you expect them to complete, such as making their bed, putting away toys, or hanging up clothes.
Establish a routine for when cleaning should happen, whether it’s once a week, daily, or another arrangement that best suits your family’s needs. Flexibility is key, but consistency will help make cleanup more manageable over time.
Discuss the consequences if they don’t adhere to these expectations.
For example, if your kid doesn’t clean their room, they’ll lose privileges like screen time, talking on the phone with friends, or playing outside with friends.
The most important part of reducing power struggles is following through with the consequences you’ve established. This helps your child understand that having a clean room is important, and also lets them see what happens if they don’t follow the rules. This makes it more likely they’ll follow through in the future.
So while you may currently be in the messy room stage, there are things you can do to help get your kids to clean their rooms.
Although it’s not perfect, these strategies have really helped my kids clean their room, they’ve reduced power struggles, and they keep them motivated to maintain that clean space.
These tips will also help your kids develop responsibility, problem-solving, and other important life skills that will benefit them far beyond their rooms!