Tips for Getting Your Kids to Clean Their Rooms

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!

How to Get Your Kids to Help Around the House

 "Why is it always a struggle to get my kids to clean?" If you're like most parents in this crazy realm we call Western Civilization, you've probably asked yourself that very question. More than once.

I remember reading the Little House on the Prairie books to my daughter and thinking to myself, Wow. These kids were up at dawn to milk the cow, help with breakfast and clean up afterwards at the age of five, and they never grumbled or complained about it. How did Ma do it?

Well, for a large part, it comes down to this: it was a different world. Ma's house was tiny. Their belongings were few. They didn't get new stuff every week, just a few necessities once a year. The Ingalls kids only had about two or three toys each. If they got bored with those, they had to use their imaginations to come up with something to entertain themselves. And most importantly, housework was not seen as an annoyance to put up with or something that could be gotten to later. It was a matter of survival in the primitive fronteir life. No refrigeration. No trash pick up. No electric lights. You had to do what needed to be done, and you had to do it while the sun was shining. Your family's health and well being depended upon it.

Contrast that with the pampered lives we live today. If I don't want to wash dishes after breakfast, it's no big deal. I can run hot water out of my faucet any time of day and use my scrubby sponge and liquid dish detergent to effectively get the grease or cooked on food off of pots and pans. Ma Ingalls had no such luxury. Don't feel like doing laundry today? It'll keep. Your washer and dryer will still be there tomorrow.

So the main reason why it's so hard to get kids to help these days is probably that housework is not viewed as essential. The amazing benefits of modern convenience come at a price. Is the price worth it? I think so. The luxury of modern technology doesn't only breed laziness. It also allows us to do more fulfilling work, to follow our inspiration, to live longer and healthier lives, and to have wonderful experiences that the Ingalls would never have dreamed of.

But although housework might not be as important or all consuming as it was in the pioneer days, it is still important for our children to develop a strong work ethic, and for us as parents to not feel like we are carrying all of the day to day responsibilities. So we need to improvise.

Here are three tips for getting your kids to help around the house:

1. Start young. 

Small children love to help with cleaning, sorting and food preparation. When my daughter was little, I too often responded to her eagerness to help with "I don't need any help." In my busy, somewhat stressful life, it just seemed easier to do everything myself than to teach her how to do a task and deal with the cleaning up that would certainly result. Believe me, I paid the price later on!

KIds as young as two can help with wiping down surfaces and sorting socks. Give your toddler a child sized broom and dust pan of his own, so he can "play" at cleaning while you actually clean. This instills a habit in him that cleaning is a pleasant activity. To help you in your quest for age-appropriate chores for children, here is a neat little infographic.

2. Instill a sense of ownership. 

If your child shows a special interest in gardening, let her take care of the lawn and landscaping. If he loves to tinker with things, let him be the handyman of the family and fix broken appliances. Whatever your child is most interested in, find a way to make his household responsibility relevant to that. Ask him for ideas on how to make things run more smoothly and efficiently. It will take a little coaching and priming at first, but if you allow him ownership of that responsibility, he will become capable and confident with it in time.

3. Set the right example. If you don't want your kids to groan and complain about household chores, then you need to avoid groaning and complaining yourself. Sometimes we do it without even realizing it.

"Oh, I wish there wasn't so much laundry!"

"I just cleaned this yesterday, and now look at it!"

"I just spent three hours cleaning this house!"

This kind of statement conveys a negative view of housework, and your kids DO pick up on it. Try to keep a smile on your face when you wash dishes, vacuum or scrub. Listen to music while you are cleaning. Say things like, "Wow, the sink looks so nice!" or "It sure feels good for the whole family to have clean clothes to wear." After awhile, your kids will start to display the same positive attitude about chores.

I hope you found these tips helpful and encouraging. Try putting them to use to get your kids to take more responsibility around the house. And if you live in the Asheville, NC area and your household cleaning needs require a more professional approach, please give us a call!