Winning The Battle: How To Get Kids To Clean Their Rooms

Are you constantly fighting to get your kids to clean their rooms? Try this simple 3-step method and learn how to finally start winning the battle.

bedroom cleaning checklist

“Go clean your room”.

How many times have we said this as parents?

Getting our kids to clean their bedrooms isn’t an easy battle. And having them keep it clean? That seems even worse!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost given up on getting my kids to clean their rooms. I mean, it probably would’ve been easier for me to just go in there and do it myself.

But who would that benefit? I certainly don’t want to spend my time cleaning their rooms. And I definitely don’t want to raise children who are incapable of tidying up.

But luckily, with a lot of trial and error, we’ve finally come up with a system that works for us.

Kids are pretty capable creatures, more than we sometimes give them credit for. It really is possible for them to clean their rooms all by themselves and have it looking just as good (or better!) than we would’ve done ourselves. Even kids as young as 3 or 4 can do it!

The trick is teaching them how. And that’s exactly why I’m writing this post.

Here, you’ll find tips and tricks that have worked with our family (although we are by no means perfect at it). And by the time you’re done reading, you’ll increase your chances of winning this battle too by knowing:

  • How to prepare your kids’ rooms
  • How you can help as a parent
  • A simple, 3-step process for kids to use when cleaning their rooms

Ok, so how do we get our kids to clean their rooms?

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here

crayons

FIRST – MAKE IT EASY TO CLEAN THEIR ROOMS

Because who doesn’t love it when things are easier?

The struggle is real when it comes to keeping things clean. It doesn’t matter your age or your tolerance level. But it becomes even worse when it’s difficult to put things away.

Even the most neat and tidy person would lose the motivation if they constantly had to fight for places to put everything.

Luckily, there are 3 simple solutions. (And this works for anything you want them to keep clean!)

1. EVERYTHING NEEDS A HOME.

And I mean, everything. Every book, every pencil, every single thing that will stay in their room.

If something doesn’t have a specific place to go, you have only 2 options:

  1. MAKE A HOME FOR IT
  2. GET RID OF IT

No exceptions.

Don’t worry, I don’t mean for you to go all-out Marie Kondo on everything. But trust me when I say that a couple of inexpensive baskets and bins can sure go a long way. When things are categorized, it’s easier for kids to use and to clean up.

Oh, and don’t tell my kids, but I usually throw things like party favors, scrap paper, and other cheap clutter items away pretty quickly…without them looking of course! There are some things I don’t want to “make a home” for.

2. MAKE IT EASY TO REACH

If we want our kids to clean their rooms, we need to make it easy to do – all by themselves.

Whenever possible, put things low (including closet rods!) and in a position where they can easily take things out and put them away.

Take a look at how we redid our daughter’s closet. The clothing battle disappeared almost instantly when we got that taken care of!

3. LABEL WHAT YOU CAN

Labeling. You either love it or hate it.

But when it comes to kids, it really does make a difference. If kids know exactly where something goes, they’ll be more motivated to put it away themselves. Remember, the easier something is, the more likely they’ll be to do it!

Labeling doesn’t have to be fancy either.

You can grab an inexpensive label maker like this one. If you want it to be even easier to read, place a piece of washi tape down first. Then put the label on top.

You can also write or draw on cardstock. Or you could make and print labels on the computer. This is my main way of labeling. I also laminate everything with this laminator and laminating paper. Things last a lot longer that way!

Or you could be real fancy (I do this all the time in linen closets) and just write on painter’s tape! Not “Pinterest worthy” by any means, but it gets the job done.

However you decide to label, I promise it’ll help your kids when it comes to cleaning their rooms.

mom and daughter

SECOND – KNOW HOW YOU CAN HELP AS A PARENT

Wait, wasn’t the point of this post for the kids?

Well, yes. But you know just as well as I do that kids aren’t naturally tidy creatures. They are teachable, though. And it’s our job to teach them how to clean.

Here are 5 ways you can help your kids learn how to clean their rooms:

1. Be an example

Kids learn best through our examples. Let them see you clean. Let them see that it’s a part of everyday life.

My kids see me speed clean all the time. And my husband and I often point out how nice it is when things are picked up and tidy. (Tidy, not perfect.)

After all, isn’t home a place to relax? Well, that’s hard to do when things are overly messy.

Side note: I used to be the WORST at keeping my room clean. I’d clean everything else, but my room was always a mess. It wasn’t until I realized that I had to lead by example that I noticed less whining when I told my kids to clean their rooms.

2. Be clear

Kids feel safe with boundaries. They need clear expectations.

So when it comes to keeping their rooms clean, let your kids know what you expect. Go through the checklist with them a few times. Show them how to put their things away. And then show them again.

Just as much as they need clear expectations, they need repetition. A lot of it.

Also, be clear that helping out is part of being in a family.

My kids have come to understand that cleaning up is just something we do in our family. All of us live here. All of us make messes. And all of us have to help out.

Our house isn’t a democracy.

That might sound harsh, but my kids have their whole adult lives to make their own decisions. As for now, our home is a teaching ground.

The Peaceful Parent Starter Guide | This Time Of Mine

3. Be consistent

Have them clean their rooms every day. Make it a part of the daily routine. Not only will this help them get better and faster at it, but it will also keep their rooms from getting out of control.

Cleaning our rooms is part of our morning routine. We also end the day by picking up. And then once a week, we’ll do the extra things like vacuuming, dusting and changing the sheets.

We still have our crazy days where this doesn’t happen. But it’s finally gotten to the point where cleaning is the norm, not the exception.

4. Be patient

Remember, our kids are constantly learning. And progress is a spiral. If you feel you’ve repeated yourself 1,000 times, don’t worry. It’ll eventually sink in.

Until then, be clear, be consistent, but also give grace.

All I ever expect of my kids is for them to try their best. Take laundry for example. The way my 5-year-old folds his pants compared to the way my almost 8-year-old does is very different. But his best is still a success in my book.

5. Be fun

This one’s totally optional, but if you’re feeling up to it, make cleaning fun! Cleaning doesn’t have to be a dreaded task.

I love cleaning to music. And my kids like to race each other or try to beat me.

READ: How To Simplify The Before And After School Routines

bedroom cleaning checklist

THIRD – TEACH THEM TO CLEAN IN 3 STEPS

Simplicity is the key to sustainability.

I say it all the time because I firmly believe it. That’s why we don’t do overly-detailed charts with our kids. Too many steps will turn them off.

This 3-step process has worked wonderfully with our kids and I hope you can find success in it too. Here’s how it works:

STEP ONE:

Make the bed. Teach them how to make the bed to your standards…and then be prepared to teach them again. (Kids need lots of reminders!)

Make two piles. Have them gather everything in their room that’s out of place – on the floor and on any surfaces – and put them into two piles: A “clothes” pile and an “other” pile.

They can put these piles on their neatly made bed. Or, if you’re like us and have bunk beds, they can make these piles on the floor.

With everything gathered into one location, it will be easy for them to see exactly what needs to be put away.

STEP TWO: Clothes pile

Dirty clothes. Teach them how to sniff, check and do whatever else to determine which clothes are dirty. Then show them which dirty clothes baskets to put them in.

Clean clothes. Teach them how you want their clothes folded or hung. Then show them where to put them.

This is where the handy labels come in!

STEP THREE: Other pile

Everything in its home. Help them to know where everything belongs. Toys, books, crayons, and whatever else belongs in their room.

Whatever is left in this pile either belongs in the “homeless basket” or the trash.

Homeless basket. We have a basket in our hallway for toys and other miscellaneous items that go in other rooms. Our kids have to put those things where they actually belong when they’re done with their rooms.

If there are things in there that don’t have a home at all, we determine if a home can be made for it, or we throw it away.

Trash. This is the last step. Anything leftover goes in the trash.

ALL DONE!

That’s it. Just 3 simple steps.

This works really well for extra messy bedrooms too. With everything moved to one area, they’ll be less overwhelmed when cleaning it up (especially if it all has a designated home).

BONUS STEP:

Once a week, have them clean a little deeper. They can vacuum, dust, change the sheets or do anything else that needs to be done.

And if you’d like a copy of the checklist from this post, you can find it in the Parenting Library.

What do you like to do to help your kids clean up? I’d love to hear your tricks in the comments below!

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