Kid’s rooms. They’re hard. They need their own space, and yet you OWN that space. Should you just clean their room for them?
Ahh, creating a nursery is such a sweet testament of your love for that new baby.
All the soft linens, the decor and sweet touches. Your baby will have the room of their dreams.
Fast forward a few years, and you can barely walk for all the clothes and toys on the floor.
I’ve had a few moms email me asking if they should just clean it for them. And I’m here to say — let’s talk about it. 🙂
Form good habits in children cleaning up
When your child is a baby, and starts to move with toys — try to encorporate cleaning up as often as you can.
Make sure they’re putting the things away that they get out.
But, I did that — and I’m here to say that isn’t a pattern that stuck with my kids. 🙂
You’re the assistant
As your child grows up, you will assist them in cleaning up.
And as they grow, and grow — you will assist less and less….
Sometimes I give my child the gift of me helping for five minutes. And honestly, I do that just because she needs an example that her room COULD Be cleaned up in a matter of minutes. But, the hour that she spent rolling on the floor whining wasn’t exactly productive. (note: sarcasm font)
Other ways to help out:
- Put on music to make cleaning more fun
- Sit in there so they can talk to you while they clean
- Check in periodically to make sure that work is happening.
- Provide them with a garbage bag or a thrift store bag, so they can get rid of the excess
- Set a timer, and see if they can race to get it done
- Provide an incentive if their room is clean in XX-minutes.
Also, when I’m tired and frustrated by her lack of work, I sit on her bed like a queen (usually working on my laptop at the same time) and direct my servant daughter. It’s not pretty, and I try to only do it when it’s REALLY bad.
You own the house
I try to make it clear that my child is “renting” the house from me. They rent it by doing chores and pitching in. And I require my renters to keep a certain standard of cleanliness.
Just like when I rented I had someone come to check out our apartment every month, I can do that at will — because I am the owner.
Yes, it is their space, and I do allow them a bit of privacy (see my post on helping kids organize) but not a WHOLE lot and I’m the adult.
Being clear that you’re in charge is important. Kids need limits.
Allow them to be themselves in their room
Ok, are you guys ready for a confession? My mom says that my room was horrible as a kid.
Just like I talked about above — couldn’t see much carpet and I didn’t really care.
Yes, me — the creator of The Organized Home was a slob at one point.
Maybe it was my way of acting out. honestly, I don’t remember.
But, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t get pregnant — so not cleaning my room was perhaps a pretty good way of acting out — even if it drove my mom crazy.
Then, I got to college. I shared a room and had very limited space (I had my own room growing up) and I suddenly pulled it together. I started finding organization options that would work in small spaces.
And look at me now! Hahah!
But, either way — give a little leeway — their room certainly doesn’t need to look like perfection all the time.
Plus, when our kids were in busy seasons, I certainly bent extra. If they’re in a play or a sports season where they have a lot going on — rooms will be a bit messier, life goes on!
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I love natural consequences, and I try to use them as often as possible.
Especially with my teenagers, I have made it VERY clear that when their room is a sty, it’s not my problem to look for missing things with them.
One of the reasons I’m so organized is because I like to be able to find the things I need when I need them.
Messy rooms, and homes, just don’t allow you to do that.
And kids have to learn that just like adults have to.
Let those natural consequences come through, try not to gloat when they do.
Help them create systems
Sometimes things are bad because they simply don’t have the systems they need to put things away easily.
So, create systems for whatever they’re keeping in their room. The Organized Home changed how I view storage in our home.
For the most part, my kids don’t keep toys in their room, and that has helped cut down on some clutter. Of course, now that the majority are teenagers there’s a whole other mess to take care of.
OH, and for the most part I don’t allow food in rooms, and they get in big trouble if I find it in there. I don’t need to attract vermin!
If you have questions like this — you might be interested in my new course Family Routines: How to Automate Your Housewife Life. It’s a guide to easily handling everyday hurdles to allow you to manage unexpected ones better. Kind of like the info in this post.
Or, you could join my practical parenting series, and check out my other parenting or cleaning posts below that!