Does this sound familiar?
You send your kids up to their rooms to clean up and pop in on them 30 minutes later to find them playing, reading or drawing amongst the mess.
This is how it always seems to go in our house, frustrating me to no end. Another source of frustration is that my youngest daughter, who makes the biggest messes, always claims that she needs help to clean her room because it's just too much for her to do. I try to explain to her that if she didn't make such a big mess in the first place, her messy room would not be so hard to keep clean.
In one ear and out the other.
Sure, it may seem logical to me that when I send my daughter to her room to clean it, she will do just that before moving on to playing and making another mess. But maybe it's not that logical to my 6-year-old. After all, her stuffed animals are just as fun to play with whether they are strewn about the room or piled neatly on her bed. For my 9-year-old, it's less about logic — she understands what I'm asking her to do and why — and more about the fact that she is allergic to doing anything she considers boring. Ask her to clean her room and she will respond with a spectrum of responses that start at whine and escalate quickly to foot-stomping refusal.
I'm not asking for squeaky clean, just a general tidiness so that I can walk into their rooms without breaking my neck on some random plastic toy.
To minimize the frustration level over cleaning, I've decided to take a more clinical approach to the task. Here are some of the best tips I've found for helping kids clean up their rooms:
1. Practice what you preach. OK, I'll admit it. My room is not the neatest either. I have been known to leave the house with my bed unmade and clothes strewn on the floor. But the difference is that I will make my bed and pick up my clothes before the day is done. No foot stomping or whining required. But I will make an effort to try a little harder to tackle those tasks sooner rather than later.
2. Define "clean." It is obvious to me that when I ask my kids to clean their rooms I expect beds to be made and toys put in their appropriate shelves or baskets. But it dawned on me that this may not be as obvious to my kids. So I've written it down for them. Now they will know that "Clean Your Room," translates to:
Make your bed.
Put your dirty clothes in the hamper.
Pick up toys and put them away.
3. Let them have a say. My youngest daughter has a basket in her room that is perfect for holding her shoes. Yet every time I try to corral her shoes into it, I return to her room the next day to find the shoes strewn on the floor and the basket filled with other knick knacks. If I stop fighting her on this, we can up with a place together where she would like to neatly store her shoes.
4. Show them how it's done. Should my kids be able to clean their rooms on their own? I think so. They don't. Eventually, we will get there, but for now, the task will go much more smoothly if I at least supervise. That way, they won't feel bored and banished every time I ask them to do it.
So that's my plan and I think it's a good one. I'll update this post if I come up with any new revelations. In the meantime, feel free to leave me comments with tips and advice. How do you get your kids to clean their rooms?