A tidy home is one of those things that just makes a mother’s life feel less chaotic.
Reduced clutter, clean dishes, and zero legos to step on allows you to deal with the abundance of cheerios you found stuffed into the dress up box or the hour long tantrum from your toddler because they couldn’t have ice cream for lunch.
But maintaining a a household takes a lot of work and everyone has to do their part- which means the dreaded request for your kids to keep their rooms clean.
You hear of the friend of a friend of a friend who has those super tidy children who pick up after themselves and keep their rooms immaculate – that is not the condition of the average household.
So you are not alone in your struggle to have your children keep clean bedrooms.
Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to encourage your children to take responsibility for their space and learn everything has a place.
1. Keep belongings to a minimum
The more we have the harder it is to maintain order.
Kids are no exception.
The Intentional Mom knows this all to well. She writes:
“A small area can become a complete war zone in a heartbeat if there is an over-abundance of toys, clothes, books, animals, and other things.”
Go through toys often to throw out broken or incomplete toys, and occasionally donate gently used ones to make room for the inevitable flow of new belongings your kids will obtain throughout the year.
With only a few favorite possessions to account for, your child won’t feel overwhelmed with their space.
2. Teach the proper way to clean
We undoubtedly take for granted all the years of trial and error it took to get into the flow of a well organized and clean room…and some of us are still trying to master this skill.
Telling a child to go clean their room can lead to frustration and disappointment if we don’t show them how to properly perform the task.
Most importantly, be consistent.
If you are strict during the initial training session and then allow them to simply shove toys to the side of the room the next time because you are in a rush, a child will default to the easier route the next time you ask them to clean their room; leaving you upset and your child confused.
3. Start young
When our kids are little, it is much easier to just pick up the toys every time they are finished with them rather than going through the painstaking repetition of teaching them to do it themselves.
But we are setting them up for failure when we do this.
Beginning as soon as your child can participate in independent play, show them how you put a toy away before taking out a new one.
The Intentional Mom has more great ways to implement cleaning practices in young children:
“On a small scale, kids as young as 18 months can put dirty clothes in the hamper. They can bring their towel into the bathroom, pick up their toys and books if they go in an easy place, and pull the covers up on their beds in a basic way.”
As your child grows they will come to expect their toys and clothes must be put away when they are finished, and it won’t be a shock to their routine when you start making them assume responsibility for their things.
4. Set clear expectations
The word “clean” can mean many things, depending on who you talk to.
Your child could very well may think that they have done a good job stuffing everything into the closet so it looks nice.
Having a chore chart, fully equipped with pictures, that lists what tasks must get done to be completed with their duty helps a child understand exactly what they should be doing.
Going through every task they will encounter on the road to a clean room with them the first couple of times lets you know they have the ability to tidy their rooms the way you are expecting.
Show them how to make their bed, how to put clothes away, how to sort toys, and so on.
Doing even just this one step will eliminate a lot of outbursts and frustration on both parties.
Empower your children to take control of their living space through loving instruction and autonomy with how they want their space to look…assuming they aren’t trying to duct tape their latest artwork on the walls (and yes, my child has done that).
Make cleaning a part of a productive lifestyle for the family and not an act of war with the kids by using these steps toward peaceful mornings.
All kids won’t have the same zeal for perfection as you may have, but they can achieve a level of cleanliness that they can be proud of.
(h/t Mommy Underground)