Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Keeping the Kid’s Bedrooms Clean

by heather

 So the biggest battle we have at our house is keeping the kids’ rooms clean. They are happy to help me scrub the bathtub, toilets and wash windows, but they act like it’s the end of the world when I ask them to pick up their toys. I make all kinds of bribes and ultimatums. If your rooms are clean we can go swimming, have ice cream, go to movies, play video games, etc. This hasn’t gotten me very far.  I am fully aware that at the ages of 3 & 5, they do not have the cleanliness standards that I have. Although it requires more work than actually cleaning their rooms myself, I insist that they clean their rooms. Hopefully someday they will appreciate this and enjoy just having their rooms clean. Now there isn’t exactly one method to get the job done, but here are a few things that I have found to be effective.

  • Providing spaces for their toys. Each of my kids have a toy organizer (like below) in their room, giving them an easy place to sort and store toys.  Tot Tutors Toy Organizer, Primary Colors
  • Toy boxes and shelves also work.
  • Break it down into small tasks. Their entire room can be overwhelming. I often tell them that they need to pick up five things before lunch.
  • Make sure they have enough closet/ drawer space to keep clothes put away.
  • Make a time limit. “We are going to clean for 15 minutes.” Then set a timer.
  • Pack up toys and clothes that are no longer used. The less stuff, the easier it is for them to manage.
  • Make a competition. “Whoever picks up the most stuff in 15 minutes gets (fill in small prize, candy, choice of movie, etc. whatever motivates your child)”
  • Be firm. If you say no games until the rooms are clean, stick to it.

So I tried all of these things, and they work to some degree, but sometimes you have to take more drastic measures. I told my kids that they had three days to get their rooms clean or the stuff on their floors was going to disappear. Then I spent a half an hour helping each of them, giving them a one last chance to pick up their favorite toys and me to pick up the things in each of their rooms that I felt were most important (books, learning toys, clothes etc.) After that I took a garbage bag to each of their rooms and filled it with what was left on the floors. Those garbage bags are now in my closet. Everyday that their rooms stay clean they get back one toy. My daughter’s room stays clean and she’s slowly earning her stuff back. My son doesn’t miss the toys in my closet, and his room is far more manageable. I think it may be time for a yard sale.
 What do you do keep on top of the mess with little ones?


4 Responses to “Keeping the Kid’s Bedrooms Clean”

  1. crazy4boys says:

    We got rid of over 75% of their toys. The rest we made sure had a "place" and labeled them clearly. The boys are so much happier and never complain about cleaning. I usually hear things like "Sure mom, that will be EASY."

    It took us about a year to get rid of everything – we'd do a major de-junk every other month or so. Just last week they volunteered to get rid of two garbage bags worth of stuff again!

    I also found it helpful (when we had more stuff) to make a picture list for them to use when cleaning. At the top might be a picture of trains so they'd put away all the trains, then a picture of action figures so they knew to put those away next, etc.

  2. Heather says:

    Those are some great ideas.

  3. deerie65775 says:

    I agree the less the better!! You can even put some of the toys away in the attic and exchange them once in a while.
    I would have the kids pick up right before it was time for their poppy to get home. And setting a timer is awesome! I would set a timer for 10 mintues.. we would hurry and pick up what we could in ten minutes.
    And it does get better! One night, around midnight, I had to get up to see what was going on: my son (about 7 or 8) was VACUUMING!! He said "I'm sorry, mom, but I just couldn't sleep until this floor was vacuumed!"
    LOLOLOL
    But don't stress out over clean rooms. My philosophy is that I can clean when they are gone, which is soon enough: my oldest two have already left home. :'(

  4. Alice Wills Gold says:

    Oh, the kids room. It's a constant battle. We recently moved and got rid of a bunch of toys. My toddler has one toy chest and my 8+10 year olds only have a cube stack of stuffed animals and whatever fits in the bins under their beds…it has been so much more manageable…wish I did it earlier.

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