Do you have trouble getting your child to clean her room? I do too. In fact, yesterday, I went to open up the door to my older girls’ room and I could not open the door but a crack. There was so much STUFF up against the door that I literally could not open it up! When I went to discuss this with my girls, they both confessed to me that if we could just move and get them a bigger room, they would promise to keep it clean!
I am still shaking my head in amazement. We have tried a bunch of strategies to try to make some progress on the room issue. None of these strategies have worked, and so I called my grandmother for some wisdom and advice on the subject.
Start Them Young
It’s best to start instilling good habits in children when they are younger. Teach them to put away their toys after they are done playing. Hopefully, the cleaning routine will become a habit. Even my grandmother acknowledges though that some children are just cleanliness challenged.
Chore charting helps if you have a child who is overwhelmed with the thought of cleaning. You can either purchase a chart or you can create one yourself. Either way, the chart should break down the cleaning chore into small tasks. For example, one step might be to pick up the clothes off the floor. The next step might be to put the dirty clothes in the hamper. The goal is to have the child work through the chart each day. Eventually, the hope is that the steps will become routine, and your child won’t need the chart anymore.
I recommend creating your own chart because you can individualize the chart. Use a folder or other sturdy type of paper for the chart and cover it with clear contact paper. This makes your chart virtually indestructible. Charts can be hung on the inside door of the child’s room.
Reduce the Clutter
Every so often in our house, I set the timer and ask my children to go through their rooms and find at least 10 broken or unwanted items. Broken items are discarded. Unwanted items are saved for our neighborhood yard sale, or given away to charity.
This has reduced the amount of “stuff” in their rooms considerably. I’ve found that the less “stuff” they have to take care of, the less mess they have to clean! This means less stress for everyone.
Pick Your Battles
The truth of the matter is that I have different standards than my children do. I also need to keep in mind that my oldest two have handicaps and that this really does affect their ability to complete daily tasks.
Does this mean that it is ok for their room to be an absolute mess? No. I find myself asking some questions now before I intervene and get upset. In the grand scheme of things, is this worth getting upset over? Should I obsess about this or let it go? When I can not open up the door because the room is that messy and they can not find clean clothes to wear to school-yes, it is worth getting upset about. When the room is slightly mess and dusty-I can shut the door and just walk away.
Reward Good Behavior
Recently, my children asked for a new item for their room for decoration. The answer was an honest no. If you can’t take care of the things that you already have, you can not have anything new to decorate (read clutter) the room until you can take care of the things that you already do have decorating the room.
My grandmother ended our conversation with some very wise advice: one day your children will be grown and the house will be clean and quiet. One day they will leave and will manage their own homes quite well and you will be amazed! Until that day comes, enjoy every precious second you have with them.