As you probably already know, it’s not easy to get your kids to clean up after themselves. One trick may work one day but not the next so having more than one trick up your sleeve is essential. Here are my 4 top secret tips to get kids to clean their room. Shh, don’t tell your kids.
Have the kids take a before and after picture of their room: I got this idea one day when my daughter and I were arguing about whether or not her room was clean. Of course she thought it was and I thought it wasn’t. After arguing for 5 minutes I brought my camera into her room and took a few pictures. I showed her the pictures, we both laughed at the mess, and she walked off to clean her room. Now when things look pretty bad in the kids’ rooms or the family room, I offer my camera. They run off and take some before pictures and then get to work. It is very satisfying for them to compare photos of the before and after and see the results of their work.
Watch an episode of “Hoarders” together. We discovered this show on our Netflix instant stream and watched it one night. The extreme conditions shocked my kids. My youngest daughter was worried and asked, “Mommy, is our house going to get like that?” I told her it would if we never cleaned. The next day I asked the kids to clean their rooms and was surprised when they immediately went and did just that. Not only were they picking up their rooms, they were also cleaning out and getting rid of things. The only reason that I could think of to explain the instant action was the “Hoarders” show we had watched the night before. We had a healthy pile of their things to donate when they were through.
Let them play “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition meets Trading Spaces”. At our house a good cleaning is an extreme makeover. There is no need for expensive remodeling if we employ this option first. More parental supervision and time is likely needed for this trick. Have one child do an extreme makeover on the other child’s room and vice versa. It’s a good idea to have some rules in place that both kids agree to. We allow rearranging things. Also, anything that is removed from the room gets placed in a box so that the owner of the room can approve this later. It is fun to play it up until the end and blindfold the “homeowner” as they enter their new space. Don’t forget to take videos.
Let the kids have and run their own garage sale. This trick only works once a year but it is a valuable trick to use if you want the kids to clean out their rooms and get rid of some of their stuff. It also keeps them busy for one to two full days. Let them decide what to sell and how to price their items (see my article on garage sale tips). I supervise from afar to make sure their pricing is within reason and that they aren’t selling something that I don’t want them to. It’s also a good idea to keep track of who is coming to the sale so I’m always nearby during opening hours. The kids learn some sales skills by talking to customers and they also learn how to make change. Usually other neighborhood kids come by to cheer on the sale (and make purchases) making it even more fun. When the sale is over, the amount of stuff removed from our house is noticeable.
These top secret tips to get the kids to clean their rooms work best when their rooms need an extra deep cleaning. The tricks above are more time consuming than an everyday room pick up. Set aside a weekend when you have the time to supervise and pitch in when necessary. Good luck.