I’m still somewhat new to this mom thing. Our kids are only seven, five, two, and newborn; so while I have some experience, I am still not a super seasoned mama and may change or edit these views as my kiddos grow. (Disclaimer so in the future, I don’t kill my younger possibly more naive self.)
Why It’s So Important for Kids to Keep Their Room Clean
- Learning responsibility. One of the most important and most basic life lessons is simple: There are consequences for your actions. One of the easiest ways for us to teach this to our children from an early age is to expect them to clean up their own messes. You get it out, you clean it up. Of course, I can clean my kids room way faster and better than they, but the last thing I want is for them to learn that if they make a mess, I clean it up. This is a lesson I think a lot of people don’t seem to learn and are shocked later in life when there are consequences for their actions.
- A sense of pride and accomplishment. It feels good to be responsible. I’ve noticed my kids feel better about themselves and their abilities when they are good managers of their own stuff.
- Training for when their help is needed with bigger things. I love the concept taught in the Bible that if you want to be trusted with big things, you must be faithful in the small things. As my kids grow, I need their help more and more — and what better way to start training them to help with larger responsibilities (and for them to be able to manage greater responsibilities in their own lives) than to first expect them to keep their own space in order?
- Greater enjoyment of their room. I may be imagining this, but I swear my kids enjoy playing in their room way less when it’s messy. They don’t enjoy the chaos for long, and usually can’t find the toys they want to play with, which often leads to frustration.
- Learning to appreciate what they have. Many of us are very blessed to be able to give our kids a lot of neat toys. However, it would be a great disservice to our kids (and probably make them spoiled) not to teach them to value and appreciate what they’ve been given. If you value something, you take care of it. If our kids have stuff they don’t care about, why let these things fill up our spaces and take up our time and energy?
How to Get Kids to Clean Their Room
Again, I’m still learning as I go, but here’s what is working for me currently.
- Have age- and personality-appropriate expectations. When I say I make my kids keep their room clean, I’m not talking about military clean, but a standard (of keeping toys at least off the floor) that is reasonable for their ages. I expect more from my bigger kids and very little from my two year old. I also take personality into account. Some kids are just way better at being organized than others. Sometimes an older kid may need more grace and assistance than a younger one.
- Don’t let them move on until their room is clean. This was a hard rule to start, but it gets easier the longer it’s an expectation. Before my kids watch a show, their room must be clean. Before we go somewhere fun, the room must be clean. Even before they come down from rest time, their room must be clean. This way they usually have to keep their room picked up at least a couple times a day — so for the most part, things don’t get completely out of control. This also motivates them to usually get it done somewhat quickly (however, there are still days they literally clean their room for three hours).
- Help occasionally. Usually around once a week, I clean my kids’ room with them. Because our kids are still young, their version of a clean room is not as picked up as I would always like. So it helps for me to go in once a week and do more serious organizing with them. These cleaning sessions also help me model some good organizing strategies and shortcuts for them. We usually also have a good visit as we work together, and they feel encouraged to have help since they usually have to clean without me
- Don’t be afraid to confiscate. If my kids can’t keep their stuff picked up, maybe they have too much stuff — or don’t care about their stuff enough. So I occasionally warn them that when I check on them at night, I’m going to bag up anything left out on the floor, and I will choose to do with it what I want (give away or put away for a while).
- Keep your space clean. It’s not really fair for me to preach if I’m not leading by example. I work hard to keep my space clean so my kids can see a firsthand example of how to keep things picked up — and to show this a value for me, too.