Are you tired of having your kids close their bedroom doors whenever company is over because the messes are so bad? Has fighting about cleaning up become part of the regular routine? For most kids, cleaning their rooms is not a top priority. While it might never be a task that they are excited to start, there are a few important changes that you can implement to make the process go more smoothly. Teaching kids to clean up after themselves also teaches key life skills, including managing basic aspects of one’s life and taking responsibility for personal belongings.
The following outlines how to encourage your kids to clean their own rooms.
Establish a routine
Nothing is more annoying than having a family member spring an unwelcome surprise on you at any time. Cleaning bedrooms should be part of the regular routine to provide predictability and stability. Find a time that makes sense for you and your family, and stick to it. If your kids like to get up early, they may not mind taking a few minutes to straighten up before school. Other kids would rather sleep in on Saturday and then clean at their own pace later in the day.
Provide storage containers and organisation systems
Without methods for organising personal items, kids are likely to stuff everything in the wardrobe or under the bed and call it a day. Sit down with each child and figure out what items need to be organised, such as rock collections, board games, and toy trucks. Are there other areas of the room that could also benefit from some organisation systems? For example, maybe the wardrobe has one long clothing bar with no organisers for shoes or accessories. Once kids know where their items go, they’ll have an easier time putting them back in their proper places.
Give kids control over the new containers and systems and how they choose to organise their rooms. Buying a new bookshelf, supplies to decorate storage containers, or paint for the walls or furniture is inexpensive and lets kids personalise their own spaces.
Cleaning up alone can be a drag at any age. Young kids may not have the attention span to clean for more than a few minutes at a time without adult supervision. Older kids with learning disabilities, autism, or ADD/ADHD may struggle to clean independently as well. Instead of setting them up to fail week after week, offer to pitch in with the task. Demonstrate how cleaning goes more quickly when you tackle an area together or when you work on separate areas at the same time.
Clean alongside your kids
If your children don’t want you in their rooms while they’re cleaning, but can’t seem to stick to the task at hand, clean another area of the house while they’re cleaning their rooms. Cleaning alongside kids also shows that you take pride in your home and want to keep things in order. Consider offering a reward for everyone in the house finishing their chores in a timely fashion, such as dinner out at a favorite restaurant or staying up a little late to watch a movie or TV show together.
Put on some music
Nothing makes a task go faster like having music on in the background. Keep a set of CDs on hand or choose agreed upon radio stations that everyone likes for cleaning time. Look for music that is upbeat with catchy lyrics and that is appropriate for all members of the house. If you have a hard time selecting music or would like to change up the routine once in a while, try a podcast or an audio book.
Find a motivating incentive
The same incentive isn’t going to be motivating for every kid. Some children love the idea of working toward an activity, such as making a trip to the park, while other children prefer checklists and charts. Still other children would rather have a deadline that allows them to manage their time as they see fit. Give kids control with finding and setting up incentives, such as choosing the reward activity or designing the checklist.
Keep in mind that getting kids to clean their rooms more efficiently with less fighting doesn’t happen overnight. Some children have more of a natural inclination to keep their rooms clean than others. It can also take time to develop new habits. While it may not seem like there are a lot of changes from day to day, you’ll look back in a couple months and realise how far you’ve come.
Featured photo: Waiting for Play by Anton Pinchuk 2009 | CC BY