If you’re a parent, you know that the messy kids’ room struggle is REAL. For some unfathomable reason, most children are not born equipped with a sense of organization or a desire to take care of their possessions. Alas, these are attributes that usually come only with age and experience (let them step on a favorite toy that they bought with their own money, and see if they still strew their belongings about willy-nilly!)
But in the meantime, SOMETHING must be done to at least keep the kid mess from spilling out into the rest of the hallway, and to ensure that there’s a path to walk through between the bunk beds and the toy box when Grandma comes to visit. And, although throwing up our hands and cleaning the room ourselves might be easier than cajoling, lecturing, and ultimatum-ing, it is a parent’s job to instill responsibility and a positive work ethic, amiright?
The good news is that there are ways to get your kids engaged in the care and cleaning of their own stuff without blowing a mental fuse in the process. Often, we think of reluctance to clean as a behavioral issue in children, and sometimes it is. But, often, it is more a matter of inexperience. This is especially true of younger children. They see the mess, they don’t know where to start, they get overwhelmed, and they shut down or turn to another activity to distract themselves.
So here are a few tips for how to get your young children to tackle their messy rooms without resorting to lectures and shouting matches.
· Remember the Five Steps. Make sure your child knows what it means to clean their room. In most cases, this can be expressed in five steps: Pick up dirty clothes and put them in the hamper; pick up any trash and throw it away; pick up toys and books and put them in their designated spots; make your bed; vacuum/sweep the floor. And you’re done! Remembering the five simple steps can make your child’s task of tidying seem less enormous and more doable.
· Make it a game. This is especially effective for 2-5 year-olds. Have a clean-up song that you sing together while your toddler picks toys up off of the floor and puts them into a bin or toy box. Or make it a scavenger hunt by asking the child to find a red toy to put away, then a green one, then a yellow one, etc. When you are done, exclaim over how nice the room looks.
· Quadrant Cleaning. If your child knows the five steps to a clean room, but still seems overwhelmed, it may be helpful to institute “quadrant cleaning”. Divide the room up into quadrants (or whatever division makes sense) and have your child pick up one section before moving on to the next.
· Model a Positive Attitude. One of the most important things we can do as parents to encourage a positive attitude toward chores and cleaning is to model a positive attitude toward chores and cleaning. Kids always pick up on their parents’ attitudes and tend to imitate them. So when you are washing dishes, vacuuming the living room, or doing laundry, avoid complaining. Turn on some music and try to have fun while you do the chores.
· Reduce the Stuff. Sometimes the reason kids are so overwhelmed at the prospect of cleaning their rooms is that the task is genuinely too large for their level of development. Why? Because they have too much stuff. If this is the case, it’s probably time for a major Goodwill drop-off. After that, you may want to implement a “one in, one out” rule. If your kid gets a new toy, she must donate an old one. New school wardrobe? Time to get rid of last year’s clothes. This rule will not only help your child maintain order in their room; it will also inspire a sense of generosity that will stay with him into his adult years.
We hope these tips help you achieve a cleaner, greener, and less stressful home! And if you ever need reinforcements, give us a call at 828.505.7320 or contact us via our online form. Happy cleaning!