My inbox is seriously backed up again, so I plan to devote a couple of months of Mondays to responding to reader questions and requests. If you have a query you’d like me to address, send me an email, and I’ll do my best to answer.
First up is this message from a reader named Amy:
Question: How often do you do room inspections?
I just found your blog. I am so excited to find your room check list and chart. I was curious to know when you do the room checks and how often. Thank you for you time in answering this email.
Answer: As often as needed until rooms stay consistently clean.
When our children were younger, they needed lots of supervision and explanation and accountability to make sure they were cleaning their rooms to standard, so I conducted “room inspections” once a week, usually on Friday or Saturday mornings. In the very beginning, I’d even do surprise pop inspections, to underscore the importance of keeping things tidy all week long, not just on the day you know Mom will be looking.
As with any chore, teaching your children to clean things thoroughly and to be mindful about maintaining their work takes a little extra time in the beginning, but it pays off in the long run. Kids gain speed and proficiency with practice and eventually even learn to identify on their own areas in need of extra attention.
To be honest, I haven’t conducted any official room checks for several years now. Once children are trained to consistently keep their rooms clean, routine checks are no longer necessary. Being tidy just becomes a habit. It may be hard for a mom with lots of littles to even imagine such a thing, but it’s true!
I can still recall when I first realized my children had internalized our training and no longer needed the accountability of a checklist. I was so excited to see their rooms stay neat and orderly — without any reminders from Mom — that I actually wrote a poem about it, which I’ve taken the liberty of sharing below:
Ode to a Freshly Made Bed
by Jennifer Flanders
Oh, what joy it brings to me
When in my child’s bedroom I see
A well-made bed
With feather pillows at its head.
I pause a moment at the door
To note the nightstand, dresser, floor —
Uncluttered, clean —
A neater room I’ve never seen.
It puts a smile upon my face
To find that everything’s in place,
The drapes undrawn
To usher in the breaking dawn.
I eye the scene and feel so blessed,
For crowning this child’s tidiness
I plainly see:
He did it out of love for me.
And that’s the truth. The bed in question belonged to one of our older sons. Since he had recently begun taking dual credit classes at the local junior college, his father decided he needed more peace and quiet for studying than his little brothers afforded him in the room they had hitherto shared, and therefore moved him into our spare bedroom.
The bed in that room had about a dozen decorative pillows on it, which my teenaged son dutifully removed every night and replaced every morning — not because having them there was at all important to him, but because he knew seeing them in place made me happy. Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard?
Although my younger kids usually make their beds without reminders, they still need a little guidance and encouragement and patient training when it comes to cleaning up the other messes they make. The older ones, however, have become extremely dependable by now. Not only do they keep their own spaces tidy, but that are great at noticing things that need doing and pitching in to complete them without my ever asking them to do so.
So… all those extra minutes I put into training my little ones to do chores I could have finished myself in a fraction of the time? My children have repaid me many, many times over as they’ve gotten older. And with a little intentionality (including clearly defining your expectations), I am convinced yours can do the same for you.