As a mum of two children, I know this struggle very well. Trying to get your kids to tidy their room can be hard work – and often it just feels easier to do it yourself, doesn’t it? But room tidying isn’t just about creating order among chaos. When kids tidy their own rooms they’re learning to take responsibility for their possessions and respect what they have. As well as this, experts believe that when children do things for themselves it helps to build self-esteem.
I’ve found that a good way to start the room-tidying process is to declutter. Put all their books, toys and games on the floor and ask your children to decide which ones they want to keep and which ones go to charity. The less there is in your kids’ room, the less they’ll have to tidy. Of course, you’ll probably find there’s still lots left, so work on a rotation system where your kids can keep a certain amount of things in their room at one time. I do this with my daughter’s Tidy Books Bookcase . She picks a selection of books to put out and the rest get stored away until she’s ready for a change. This helps her to appreciate what she’s got and when we rotate her books it feels like she’s got brand new ones.
For kids to tidy their room, they might need to learn how to do it first. They probably hear ‘Clean up your room’ as a vague instruction and not know what they’re actually expected to do. You could give them a checklist with clear points such as ‘look under the bed for dirty clothes’ and ‘put toys back in box’, and for younger ones how about using pictures to show them what to do?
Some parents show their kids that tidying their rooms doesn’t have to be a chore by adding the fun factor. Depending on their age, they read them a story while their kids are clearing up or have a sing-a-long or dance their way through the tidy-up. You could also make the cleaning into a competition – can they tidy their room before you finish the housework?
From my own experience, I know that children are more likely to keep their room tidy if they have special places to keep things. When I gave my daughter her Bunk Bed Buddy, she said it was ‘cosy’. Immediately, she started to use it not just for her books but also for some of her favourite teddies and other bits and bobs. She really liked having her own personal little area that she was in charge of. It gave her a real sense of independence, which I think is so important for helping kids to value their room space. You can do the same thing with colourful storage boxes that your kids have chosen, and getting them to make their own labels to put on them.
Of course, at the end of the day kids will be kids so, like me, you’ll probably resort to bribes sometimes. But as long as they tidy their rooms most of the time, I think that’s OK. To be honest, as an adult I’d certainly like an incentive now and again to clean the house!
* What do you think? Are bribes OK – and what do you do to get your kids to tidy their room?