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How do you get your kids to clean their rooms?

Posted by on Aug. 29, 2014 at 8:56 AM
  • 23 Replies

10 Ways to Get Kids to Clean Their Rooms

by Judy Dutton

It's a scientific fact that kids leave chaos in their wake -- so convincing kids to clean their rooms may seem like a futile battle. Yet believe it or not, there are ways to teach your young'uns to pick up that jumble of toys, clothes, and other unidentified objects without having to constantly hound them or do it yourself.

  • Make it a game. "Name a specific goal, like gathering dirty clothes or toys, and set a time limit," suggests Meg Roberts, president of cleaning service "If kids complete the task in time, they earn a treat like a 15-minute extension on bed time or family game night." For added excitement, use a timer, and display the best times to beat on a board of champions. Or get even more creative by role-playing -- i.e., pretend you're Cinderella's mean stepmother. "It's kind of fun to yell 'Clean the floors!' and watch my daughter really do it with with a smile on her face," says lifestyle coach Desha Peacock, founder of
  • Create a routine. "Chores work best when they have to be executed in the same way, at the same time, with the same frequency," says Mark Loewen, a parenting coach in Richmond, Virginia. "Establishing 15 minutes to pick up the room before bed time or right after coming home for school makes it predictable and helps the your child remember."
  • Set clear expectations. "A 'clean room' can mean different things to different people," points out Loewen. So make a list of what you want to see once the room is clean -- i.e., dirty clothes in the hamper, no dirty dishes in the room, etc. For some children, it is helpful to have a list on a board, so they can check off each one.

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  • Set light rewards and consequences. For instance, a room that was not picked up by the agreed time means 30 minutes earlier bed time or less screen time for that day. "Don't go overboard, since a little nudge often does the trick and avoids power struggles," says Loewen. "If your child kept a clean room without needing reminders from you for a week, celebrate! An extra reward may be in order."
  • Or tie a clean room to an allowance. "The rule is if you don't do your jobs, you lose money," explains Dana Obleman, author of Kids: The Manual. "This means that some weeks my kids don't get their full allowance. They're kids, they're still learning, and they don't always get it right. But they understand that their money is earned. And they are motivated to get all of their chores done, including cleaning their rooms!"
  • Keep track of cleaning chores with a chart. "By using a chore chart, kids get a clear, visible, and digestible way to understand their roles and responsibilities," says Roberts. "Give them stickers to let them decorate their chart and make it their own."
  • Keep the toys to a minimum. It's simple: The more toys to clean up, the more overwhelming the mess is -- plus, no kid plays with that many toys at any one point. "Try keeping under 10 toys out at once," says Stacy Erickson, founder of "Rotate them out if you can't part with them."
  • Avoid over-sorting. "Unless your child is really into organization and sorting, keep the amount of containers low," says Erickson. "For example, it looks cool for a minute when Legos are sorted by color, but keeping it up can be really overwhelming, especially for a kid. At age 2, to expect a child to pick up more than five toys at a time is unrealistic. If your 8-year-old's room stresses you out so much you can't be in it, chances are that it's also beyond their level of stress and development. Have reasonable expectations."
  • Teach them how to do it. When you think about it, "go clean your room" can be a pretty vague request. "Instead give direct information, like, 'All the clothes are on the floor. They go in the hamper,'" says Erickson. "Clean alongside them and model how to do it appropriately."
  • Bundle chores. Bundle common activities together and give them names. For instance, your "evening routine" includes tidying their room and getting their clothes and backpacks ready for the next day. "Giving the activities a name and a bundled concept helped them finally not feel overwhelmed by a long list of things to do," explains Wendy Overton, a professional organizer at Creative Fire Labs. 

How do you get your kids to clean their rooms?


Images © Frank Schnabel/Corbis; ©

by on Aug. 29, 2014 at 8:56 AM
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by Platinum Member on Aug. 29, 2014 at 9:00 AM
3 moms liked this

We didnt keep tons of shit in them for starters. basically no toys were kept in them. As toddlers we picked up before bed together. Once in elementary school their rooms had to be spotless by Fri pm or they couldnt go out until they were. So they had the choice of spending the weekend in or getting the room done. They never spent a weekend in. Once a month on a rainy day we went in and scrubbed the place down top to bottom. Furniture was rearranged. Curtains came down and got washed. Walls and baseboards were washed down. Clothes were tried on and too small stuff removed. Dressers were sorted and organized. It made it pretty easy to keep room clean,

by on Aug. 29, 2014 at 9:40 AM
We've always done it together, even when they were babies, as soon as they could walk and follow simply commands, they've helped clean up, obviously as is age appropriate, but it was always a part of their routine, and we made it fun.
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by Barb on Aug. 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM

We started when the children were toddlers so that it became part of the routine of the house. When they became pre-teens it all was forgotten and the rooms were a mess.

by on Aug. 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM
We make a game out of it. I turn on Disney radio on Pandora and set a timer. I'll give her one task at a time so she doesn't get overwhelmed (DS isn't old enough to get the concept yet). Once she's finished with the one task we move on to the next until her room is clean. We do this once a week and usually there's some sort of prize at the end.
by Member on Aug. 29, 2014 at 11:17 AM

We don't require that their rooms be pristine, but we do expect the beds made -- or look made -- daily and that you can walk though the room without stepping on, over or around clutter.   Also, the floor is not the hamper and clean clothes need to go in a drawer or closet!   When the room needs attention, that is the priority (with a little advance warning).   No further activities, etc., until it's taken care of.  

by Ruby Member on Aug. 29, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Start early with cleaning before the age of 2 picking up toys. 

Set expectations. 

Sit and watch them clean if they are not doing it and don't help once they get to a certain age like 6. 

by Mom2boys on Aug. 29, 2014 at 11:35 AM

He has a chore chart. He earns things based on his chore chart. Cleaning his room is part of his list of chores.  If he goes one week with all checkmarks then he can bank the check marks or earn an extra privilege.  Right now he is banking for a toy he really wants. (:

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by Member on Aug. 29, 2014 at 11:36 AM
We play the pickup game. She picks up X amount of toys and then she does X amount of showing off like dancing, cartwheels or singing. Lol
by on Aug. 29, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Each child has a tote that toys go in and a basket or two with specialty toys. The key to me (I have 4) is keeping toys to a minimum. Also, when I notice they are done with something, I ask them to clean it up. The block bag is under a little basketball hoop so they can shoot the blocks through the hoop and land them in the bag.

Also, a few toys they need to ask me to use like puzzles and legos. 

by on Aug. 29, 2014 at 9:12 PM
I tell them to clean their rooms. They know if they don't that I will clean it which consists of me emptying their room of everything. They don't like it when I clean their bedrooms sil they just do it.
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