I’ve been using Mondays to clean out my mailbox. This week, we’re discussing tips for keeping kids rooms clean.
Question: Any tips for keeping kids’ bedrooms clean?
How do you get teens to clean their rooms? This is a big struggle at our house right now. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: Simplify the process as much as possible
I believe that some children are naturally tidy and others are not. We have both kinds in our own family.
I myself was a messy child but am an organized adult — so I try not to lose hope when I can’t find the floor of my child’s closet for all the wet towels he has dropped there. Still, those towels may mildew if they don’t find their way to the laundry, so how do we make sure that happens?
Practical Tips for Keeping Kids Rooms Clean
Keep it Simple:
Make it as easy as you can for your children to keep their bedrooms clean. Identify the problem areas, then think of a solution. My oldest daughter would come in from college every afternoon and drop her backpack on the floor of her bedroom, so I put an empty blanket chest at the foot of her bed, and now she drops it in there (most of the time).
If kids struggle to make their beds, streamline the process for them. Our little ones use only a fitted sheet with a colorful quilt or comforter (no other top sheet or blankets). This makes it so much easier for younger children to make their beds themselves.
Keep Hampers Handy:
Make sure laundry baskets are conveniently placed and easily accessible by keeping them in the children’s bathroom or closet. Consider attaching a hook to the closet door, where your child can hang pajamas during the daytime, or clothes that are clean-enough-to-wear-again-tomorrow during the night.
Pare Down Clothing:
Speaking of clothes, we only hang clothes in their closets that fit properly and are in-season. This is a huge help when closets are small and you’re tight on space. We store out-of-season clothes and hand-me-downs in boxes on a high shelf, where they can be switched out quickly once the weather changes or a child hits a growth-spurt.
Communicate Your Expectations:
You must clearly define your standard (and possibly even consider lowering it). I would love for my children to keep their rooms 100 percent clean, 100 percent of the time — but I’m content when they keep their rooms 85 percent clean with some consistently. I can ignore cluttered drawers if the beds are made neatly. When their bedrooms need a little extra attention, I give them a copy of my free printable bedroom inspection checklist of what needs to be done, so we all stay on the same page.
Set the Example:
Be sure you are modeling good behavior yourself. I’m much more likely to get upset at the papers scattered all over my son’s desk if the files on my desk are overflowing, so while I ask him to clean his, I work on getting my own back in order. Our children learn much more from our example than from our instruction. I think the real reason my home is clean and organized today is that my mother was such an immaculate housekeeper when I was growing up. She set the good example I still strive to follow.
Store Toys Elsewhere:
We use bedrooms primarily for sleep or quiet study, not for play. Our kids don’t keep a lot of toys in their bedrooms – just a doll or two for the little girls and a couple stuffed animals for the little boys. This goes a long way toward eliminating bedroom clutter and frees up limited closet space for clothes. (For ideas on organizing the rest of their playthings, see Taming the Toy Box).
No Shoes Inside:
Since our kids don’t wear shoes in the house, we installed shelves in the garage for their shoes. Most of us have only two or three pair of shoes to keep up with, anyway – a dress pair, a play pair, and sandals – and the shelves keep them organized and easy to find. Socks are kept in a small cabinet just inside the backdoor, one shallow drawer per child.
Come alongside your child — at every age — and give patient, loving help when they need it. Even teens get overwhelmed by what seems to be a hopelessly cluttered room. They feel stressed out and don’t know where to begin, just like younger children (and even mothers!) sometimes do. I still get a warm tingle down my spine when I think of all the times my mother rescued me when I got bogged down with the burden of tidying my room. She’d sit down at my desk and say sweetly, “How about I organize your drawers while you clean out your closet?” Then she’d visit with me while she separated paper clips from rubberbands. It was heavenly.
Clear Floor Space by Stacking Beds:
Most homes being built these days are clearly designed to accommodate only one child per bedroom. Squeezing three or four little ones into such small spaces can feel a bit cramped. If bunk beds make you nervous (they do us), then try using a trundle. You can build a box yourself, just a few inches smaller than the bed it will slide it under, then trim a slab of 4” foam to fit inside for the mattress. These make great beds for toddlers and are much safer and easier to keep tidy than top bunks.
So those are the tips and tricks we use to keep our kids’ rooms from looking like a disaster zone. If you’ll do these things consistently, your teens’ rooms may not look perfect, but they will at least stay presentable. What’s more, by keeping their space in order, your children will learn good habits that will serve them well in all of life.
Your turn: What works best at your house for encouraging children to keep their rooms tidy? Do you have any helpful tips for keeping kids rooms clean we missed? Please share your ideas in the comment section below!