How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms

How often does this happen to you?  You ask your children to clean their rooms, and when you go to check on them, you find that they have done almost nothing.  It happens to me all the time, and it's one of my major frustrations as a parent.  It's time to solve the problem!  Have you stopped to think that the kids aren't cleaning because they don't know where to start?

I just finished reading, "A House United:  Changing Children's Hearts and Behavior by Teaching Self-Government," by Nicholeen Peck.  (I've linked you to her website.)  I am on the road to getting my family better under control, and I am so excited to share what I'm learning with you.

How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms {OneCreativeMommy.com} Tired of nagging kids to clean their rooms? Your kids might be overwhelmed and not know where to start. (Free Printable Reminder Cards)

When it comes to getting things done, we are not all created equal!  Some of us are LINE DRIVERS, and some of us are ROAD MAKERSROAD MAKERS see a problem and push forward to create a solution.  LINE DRIVERS like to do things right.  They want instructions.

When asked to clean his room, a ROAD MAKER child may be able to walk into his room and devise a plan to get it done.  That does not mean, however, that he will do it right.  He may put things away correctly, but he may also just stuff things under the bed or in his closet.  (He won't have trouble getting started, but he may need some reminders to do things correctly.)

When asked to clean her room, a LINE DRIVER might plop down in the middle of the room feeling overwhelmed--not knowing how in the world to get started.  Once she's told what to do, she'll be able to get started, and she will likely do the job well.  (She wants to do it right, but she needs to be taught how to do it.)

I haven't quite figured my kids out completely, but when it comes to cleaning their rooms, my kids seem to be LINE DRIVERS.  Since they haven't learned to keep their rooms clean (another teaching opportunity on my list) the task is too overwhelming, and they just don't know where to start.  It's time to start teaching! 

How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms {OneCreativeMommy.com}  Tired of nagging kids to clean their rooms?  Your kids might be overwhelmed and not know where to start.  (Free Printable Reminder Cards)

Are you ready for a dose of my reality?  Here's what Boo and Lu's room looked like this Saturday morning, and week two of our new room cleaning solution.  I wish I had a picture of week 1.  Since the floor was barely visible, it's no wonder they didn't know how to begin!

Based on how I clean my own room, I created a step-by-step plan to teach children how to clean their rooms.  (The steps are simple, but you may have to teach other skills within each step.)

Step 1:  Make your bed

For my kids, this means sweeping the junk onto the floor, folding the blankets, and rearranging their pillows and stuffed animals.

Step 2:  5-Minute Sort

How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms {OneCreativeMommy.com}  Tired of nagging kids to clean their rooms?  Your kids might be overwhelmed and not know where to start.  (Free Printable Reminder Cards)
This sort will be different depending on what is in the room.  (Empty laundry baskets are great for this step.)

The first week--when the room was a complete disaster--we put clothes on the bottom bunk, things that stayed in their room in one basket, and things that belonged in another room in another basket.  It took us 11 minutes to do the first five-minute sort.  The kids didn't quite understand what to do, and they were not motivated to do it.

The second week--when the room was messy, but much more manageable--we put clothes on the bottom bunk, toys in one basket, and shoes and books in the other basket.   The five-minute sort took exactly five minutes, and the girls loved getting it done as quickly as possible.  They knew what to do, and they understood that it would help them get their room clean quickly.

When the sort is complete, there should be nothing left on the floor.  (This is a great time to pick up the tiny garbage that wasn't noticeable under the junk.)

Step 3:  Put Away

How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms {OneCreativeMommy.com}  Tired of nagging kids to clean their rooms?  Your kids might be overwhelmed and not know where to start.  (Free Printable Reminder Cards)

Start with one pile (we usually start with the clothes), and put things where they belong.  If your children don't know how to hang up clothes or put things in their drawers the right way, this is a good time to teach them.  When one pile is finished, move on to the next until the room is clean.  (If you have a road maker child, be sure to follow up to make sure that their things are put away in the right places!  If you teach them where their things belong, then they avoid getting into trouble when they put things away "creatively.")

Doing it Alone

How soon the kids can do this alone will depend on the child and the child's age.  My kids have now gone through the steps twice.  This week, I plan to print the chart and challenge them to do it on their own.  I don't expect that the little ones will be quite ready yet, but I'll be watching from the hallway, ready to praise them every step of the way!  Don't you perform better when someone notices your hard work?  So will your kids.

The Bottom Line

Whether your kids are line drivers or road makers, they need to be taught how to do a job right!  Knowing what to do will free the line drivers from anxiety, and it will give the road makers a guide for appropriate solutions.  (Your road maker might rearrange the steps, but he'll know how to get an acceptable result.)

 

Try it at Your House!

How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms {OneCreativeMommy.com} Tired of nagging kids to clean their rooms? Your kids might be overwhelmed and not know where to start. (Free Printable Reminder Cards)

Want to try this with your kids?  I've created a visual reminder for the kids to use until they are comfortable doing the job on their own.  Two sizes are included:  Half sheet and 3"x5".  I'll be making more cards as the kids learn more jobs.

Download Steps to Clean Your Room Reminder Cards

Thanks for visiting!

If you like this post, you may be interested in my free motivational point cards:

Motivational Point Cards for Kids Free Printables from OneCreativeMommy.comJanuary Download | February Download | March Download | April Download

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Heidi

Comments

  1. Hi, everyone. For some reason, the commenting option was accidentally disabled on this post. Sorry if you tried to comment or link back to the post and were unable to. It's all fixed now! I'm so excited that so many of you have pinned this post. I hope it's helpful.

  2. What a good idea. I have been struggling with my five year old when it comes to keeping his room clean.

    I will be trying this method this week!

  3. Great pointers! I will add one thing, as a professional organizer, the biggest problem kids have with keeping a room clean is TOO MUCH STUFF! Moms, keep the room simple, just a few toys and books, skip the top sheet and just use a comforter, don't overstuff the closet and drawers with clothes etc. Label everything so there is no question about where stuff goes (use pictures if they can't read). Shelves with bins are better than a bottomless toy box.

  4. Love your clean up idea! Saw this on the Wow me Wednesday link party. We are featuring your printable on our blog tomorrow! Stop by if you have a chance : )
    http://www.finditmakeitloveit.com

  5. Great idea. I divided ours into 5 things and we'd pick a number to count to for each catagory. Like: 15 peices of toys, laundry, shoes, books and trash. The older they are, the higher the number. But I do like this idea too.
    Amy

  6. I like it! My daughter's a little older now, so she's gotten the hang of HOW. Though it can still be a battle to get her through it. But once she gets herself going, she does a bang up job. I did something similar and made her a list of what makes a clean room (bed made, floor clear, toys in tubs, clothes in drawers, drawers shut, etc.) I do agree, they're not born knowing how & we forget that sometimes!

  7. Where are those bunk beds from? Love!

    • Amy, the bunk beds were floor models from a home show. We got them for a steal at a little shop in Las Vegas that sells off floor models. Before we bought the beds, I considered buying the Beatrice Twin Size Student Loft Bed from thebeanbagstore.com. I can't be positive, but I'm pretty sure that's the bed we have (in blue). White would be better for my girls, but at least the blue doesn't show dirt! (It looks slightly purple in most lighting.)

  8. This is really awesome! My kids are definitely line drivers, as am I. It's great to simplify the steps. Thank you so much for this we will put this into practice TODAY!

  9. Haha I have just realized I am totally a line driver! Super pleased to have instructions so i can start teaching my three year old to clean his room (with me). Thanks for the link to the book you read also, think I will check it out :)

  10. Thanks! I just printed these and will start TODAY!

  11. Love these steps! I've tried so many things with my daughter that haven't worked. We will see how this works. Thanks for the free printables!

  12. These are some great tips! I especially love the 5 minute sort! My older kids are great about cleaning up after themselves now, but it didn't used to be this way! Lots of "making it a game" and "reward charts" and other simple things helped a lot!

    Thanks for linking this up to my Best of 2013 Link-Up. I can see how this was your top post of 2013! It's great! :)
    Julie Moore recently posted...The Best Of 2013 {Link-Up}My Profile

    • Thanks, Julie. I wish I could say that my kids were great at cleaning up after themselves, but we're working on it! Baby steps, right?
      Heidi Fowler recently posted...Happy New Year 2014!My Profile

      • Exactly! Some days my 3 year old is great about cleaning up, and other days, not so much...Same with my 9 and 11 year olds! If I think about it, I'm the same way. Some days I just can't get motivated (though you'd think a clean house would be motive enough). Always a work in progress for everyone. Though, overall, my kids are great about cleaning up, we still struggle some days. I think that's just life, ya know?
        Julie Moore recently posted...The Best Of 2013 {Link-Up}My Profile

  13. This is perfect!! I am so excited to use this. Thanks Heidi!!

  14. Thank you so much Heidi for all of these wonderful tips!!! I've been struggling with teaching my son to clean his room on his own, and it actually being clean without me doing it all! It's been very difficult..I'm a bit OCD, so I always do it myself. Thank you very much, I'm definitely going to give this a try!

  15. Oh holy cow.... I don't know why... but it never occurred to me that my kiddo would be JUST as overwhelmed as I am when it comes to her room.... It all makes sense now, and I plan on making this a topic of conversation TONIGHT!!! So glad I found this post.... Thanks for sharing. I think I'll be buying the book too....

  16. This is perfect. Thank you!
    Tamie recently posted...FountainsMy Profile

  17. Hey cous! I can't believe I somehow missed this post from you! I love all the creative and helpful tips you give. I don't post comments but I am on this. I WILL BE USING THIS LIST WITH MY BOYS!! Along with getting rid of a lot of our toys, this checklist will be a great help for Le and J. They have Legos and junk ALL OVER their room. Em loves a clean room and Lu and T don't have anything but beds and dressers in their room so far. Le and J are road makers. They will put things wherever they can as long as it is off the floor and out of sight. It's amazing where I have found things. Toothbrushes in underwear/sock drawers, dirty clothes in their pillows, bits of paper wrapped up and in the laundry bin, etc.

    I use the 5-minute Sort technique for every room I start to clean (only it takes me a LOT longer than 5 minutes!). I gather everything that belongs in a different room and put it in a container, then I clean and straighten that room. Then I go room to room with my container and put things away. My problem is right now, not everything in the container has a home but I don't want to get rid of it yet. Suggestions? :(

    • Hi, Erin. It's so fun to get comments from people I know! It sounds like you've got a great sort technique. It's so easy to get distracted while cleaning a room. The baskets help a lot. A year ago, we took a lot of stuff out of the playroom and put it in boxes. Some were for a garage sale, and some were to keep for later. Now that we're ready for the garage sale, we kind of think all of it can go to the garage sale. We discovered that the kids didn't really "need" stuff as much as they thought!
      Heidi recently posted...How Getting Rid of Toys Made Us a Happier Family!My Profile

  18. I don't know about teaching my children to clean their rooms - I think I need to show this post to my husband!
    Clare recently posted...12 easy smoothie recipes that make great breakfast ideas for kidsMy Profile

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