“Go clean your room, already!”
You are yelling now, because it’s been 30 minutes and your kids have done everything except for what you asked them to do.
Their room is a disaster zone and you are beyond sick of them going in there saying they are bored or fighting.
You are tired of their toys littering your entire house.
And you are certain your children don’t clean their room just to drive you insane.
And it’s working.
Before you throw it all in a dumpster, I have something to share with you that works for me and my kids.
Why Your Child’s Room is Always a Disaster
There are three reasons why your child’s room is a disaster zone and why they don’t clean it up.
- The amount of stuff they have to clean is overwhelming.
- They don’t know how to clean and organize their room because they haven’t fully developed their executive functioning (Planning, Time Management, Focusing, and Organizing) skills yet.
- The expectation that they need to clean frequently and why may not have been shared with them enough or in the right way.
You might have one or all three of these issues working against you. Whatever the roadblocks are for you, this post will help you get started in the right direction.
They Need Less Stuff Out at a Time
This is a picture from over 5 years ago.
My daughter was almost 3 at the time and she was happily playing with
If you look behind her you will see a 3 drawer cart that’s full of games,
little toys, and art supplies. And the colorful fabric bins bulging
with books and toys. And this picture doesn’t even show the hoards of
cute clothes in her closet.
By most standards this is what a semi-organized child’s room looks like. Right? There’s a place for everything and every thing… not in it’s place! Because if you’ve ever had bins and drawers full of kid stuff, you know that it doesn’t stay nice for long.
All the kid things get dumped out and then all the kid things get scattered throughout the entire house. And in a few days, your child will literally walk over all their things complaining about how bored they are.
It is so frustrating!
But you know what? It’s frustrating for them too.
They want to play, but when the toys are everywhere they don’t see toys, they just see piles.
In the picture above, my daughter is happily playing because I had just cleaned her room and put her blocks out for her.
The goal is to help your kids be able to play and enjoy their toys more without adding more frustration and maintenance for you.
Have you considered putting your kids’ toys into a rotational system? This has worked wonders for my family because it keeps the toys exciting and fun but there are less toys out at any given time so there is less mess happening.
Each of these bags contains a collection. My kids get out one toy collection at a time and I store the rest in my garage.
They put all the toys from their current collection in a toy bin in their room and pick them up regularly. When they get bored they swap their current collection for a new one. It works brilliantly!
My kids are always excited to get out some “new” toys. They will play with them for hours every day for about four days. Then I know it’s time to switch them out again.
To learn more about creating a toy rotation system, check out this post.
Your children will thrive in a clean play area and the same is true for clothing clutter. They will find exactly what clothes they need when they have only what fits and is in season in their closet.
You Need to Teach Them How to Clean
Cleaning a room is a multi-step process. For someone who is still developing their executive functioning skills this is an impossible business.
To clean a room you have to plan how to clean it up, you have to use time management skills to get it done quickly and orderly, you have to focus, and you have to know where everything goes.
Little kids, even older kids sometimes, simply can’t do these things yet. The multi-step process alludes them, they get overwhelmed and they give up, despite the pleadings of their parent.
Once you’ve already organized your child’s room for them, that helps them with the executive functioning of organization. Now you need to show them where everything goes. Help them to see the organization. Point out how easy it is to find and put away everything now that it’s organized.
Then you can teach them how to clean their room. You do this by modeling it for them and giving them a visual reminder.
When you physically show them how and give them a visual to look at, it does the hard mental-processing work for them.
They know that step one is to put all the toys in the toy bin and books on the book shelf. Then they know that next they are to pick up any clothes and put them in the laundry basket. Then they can pick up any trash they see and throw it away. Finally, they know that they should make their bed.
It’s a simple four step process and the poster helps them to understand it and follow along. They won’t get overwhelmed anymore because they can see at a glance that it really is that simple, especially when they are cleaning their room frequently.
They Need Good Habits
The last reason why your child can’t clean their room is that there is no understood expectation about when and how much to clean it up.
They might know that they should keep it clean, but what really happens is everyone lets it get to an insane, unmanageable level of unkempt before you make any demands to get it under control.
What if instead, you taught your child to clean their room every day? Just a quick tidying up that takes only five minutes?
Then it becomes totally doable.
To teach your child this great daily habit you can reinforce it with proper rewards and consequences. For me, I use a reward chart. If they clean their room, they get a sticker on their reward chart. After ten stickers they get a reward of their choosing. If they don’t clean their room, they don’t earn a sticker.
Creating a habit like that is easy for them when you can make it an easy and quick part of their routine and give them the proper motivation to get it done.
Your Child Can Clean Their Room and Keep it Clean
If you want more support in this process, be sure to check out A Clean Room is a Fun Room Guide for all the steps in the process and all the fun and colorful printables that go along with it.
You can also get a free page of printable labels to organize toys here.