How to Get Kids to Clean Their Rooms

Girl sitting on bedroom floor organizing wooden toys into a knitted storage bag
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"What a mess!" you think. But it's not your job to clean your children's rooms, it's theirs. It may be easier, but it's better for them to learn to clean and take care of their things. Here are some unique bedroom-cleaning ideas that parents like you have done:

The Last Thing on the Floor

"Is it clean enough?" This question from our 5- and 7-year-old boys used to bother me. To teach them how to be thorough, we played The Last Thing game.

Once the bedroom was straightened, the boys would inspect it to determine whether it was tidy. When they saw items that still needed to be put away, the game began. The competition was intense, with both boys determined to find one more car, sock or LEGO block to pick up.

The child who put the last item in place was declared the winner. The winner was then allowed to choose a reward from the prize drawer, which held inexpensive goodies and treats. Through this game, our children learned what it meant to call a room "clean."

—Linda VanderWier

Make-Believe Maid

Seven-year-old Gracie is forever playing make-believe. One day as we finished playing house, I decided to engage her imagination to clean her room.

"Briiing, briiiing — Gracie, it's your phone," I said.

"Hello?" she replied through a big grin.

"I am looking to hire a maid today," I said. "Do you have one available?"

"Yes! She'll be right over!" Gracie then cleaned her room.

After doing this a few times, she learned how the right attitude can make some chores fun.

—Christy Pearce

Kids Can Pick Up Their Toys

Children can be trained from a young age to pick up the toys in their bedroom. My kids are responsible for picking up one shoebox-sized container of toys for each year of age. So our 3-year-old can have one box of LEGOs, one box of cars and one box of small blocks in his room. Other items, such as games, large toys and puzzles, are stored in a common area.

Throughout the day, we pick up toys before moving on to the next activity. Before lunch, we clean up toys from that morning. We also put away toys before naps, dinner and bedtime. I start by walking the kids through the process, and then they gradually do it alone.

—Sara Borgstede

A Sweet Solution for Messy Rooms

To help our kids learn to pick up their clothing off the floor and clean their rooms, we introduced a room checklist and incentive chart. Our checklist defined what a clean room meant. This list included items such as "cleaned floor," "made bed" and "dusted furniture." Different days listed different items.

The incentive chart consisted of an empty ice-cream dish cut out of construction paper. On the bottom of it, I stapled an envelope filled with paper cutouts of colorful ice-cream scoops, whipped cream and a cherry for the top of the sundae.

When children completed their checklist, they were each allowed to add to the family's sundae. I had enough paper scoops and other "ingredients" for kids to take three weeks to complete the sundae. When it was finished, our whole family went out to enjoy real sundaes together.

—Martha Artyomenko

"The Last Thing on the Floor" and "Make-Believe Maid" first appeared in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. "Kids Can Pick Up Their Toys" first appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. “A Sweet Solution for Messy Rooms” first appeared in the February/March 2016 issue of Thriving Family magazine.
"The Last Thing on the Floor" © 2017 by Linda VanderWier. "Make-Believe Maid" © 2017 by Christy Pearce. "Kids Can Pick Up Their Toys" © 2017 by Sara Borgstede. “A Sweet Solution for Messy Rooms” is copyrighted © 2016 by Martha Artyomenko. 

Next in this Series: How to Get Your Children to Pick Up Their Things

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