Kids are a bit like hurricanes. Before I discovered three simple steps for keeping kids’ rooms clean*, their rooms were a disaster zone.
Clutter covered the floors and snuck out to the rest of the house, I couldn’t find a matching shoes when it came time to leave the house (very stressful with multiple children!), and, worst of all, the kids didn’t even play with the toys littered everywhere, because they were either bored with them, or they couldn’t find all the parts.
Whew. The mere thought of cleaning the room was exhausting… until I discovered these three easy steps to keeping kids’ rooms clean.
Step one: Set yourself up for success.
What does this mean? Set the room up so that the children can clean it themselves. If your children have a thousand toys with a million pieces in their rooms, you’re never going to win the war. You want the words simple and structured to describe your child’s space.
For us, this means a place for clothes, shoes, toys and trash.
1. A place for clothes. A simple place for clothes. All my three-year-old can handle is a bin; she doesn’t even have a dresser. I do not require them to fold or organize their clothes, but simply to put them in their place.
2. A place for shoes. At one point, their shoes went into a sterilite box that slid under their bed. Now, they go into a rack that hangs over their door.
3. A place for toys. Again, the simpler, the better–each of my children’s rooms has ONE bin for all their toys. If a toy has more than one piece, I require that it live in our toy library.
When the toy bin begins to overflow (every three weeks or so), it truly only takes ten minutes to declutter. I get rid of toys they’ve stopped playing with or broken. I return toys that belong in the toy library. I throw away trash and put the shoes that snuck into the bin back in their cubby holes.
Because the system is simple, even the three year old can clean the room herself, and she does, every morning, when it comes time to clean the room.
Step Two: Put a time to clean the room in the daily schedule.
My children clean their rooms, do their morning chores and pick up their toys around the house every morning. As an incentive, I set a timer. If they complete their rooms and the house in that time, they get to watch 10 minutes of a movie.
Step Three: Inspect.
Despite having cleaned their own room for three years, my children still don’t meet my expectations on a daily basis. Before I excuse them from their chores, I always take a few minutes to inspect and point out what they need to finish.
Voila! You now have kids’ rooms that not only are clean, but also stay clean. Stress levels drop and shoes are found.
*NOTE: Are kids’ rooms ever perfectly clean? In my house, they may remain “perfectly” clean for a few minutes or a few hours, but kids’ rooms are made to be played in. Especially when we have guests over, the cleanliness deteriorates quickly. This is why we clean the rooms (most) every day; this way, the clutter does not become overwhelming for the child or l.