Spoonful of sugar

I have decided that, for the sake of our website, I am going to publish cleaning tips. (Since I am a neat freak/germaphobe/ organization wizard) Nik does recipes and coupons and I will do some spiritual stuff and cleaning ideas!

So today I am going to talk about something that I don't think I normally would have talked about.
Getting kids to clean their rooms!
We had a HUGE bbq this weekend, and as such my son's bedroom was thrashed by all the kids and his excessive amounts of toys.
I didn't have him clean it up that night though. The next day when Seth and I were picking up I asked him to clean up his room, but told him that if he needed help I would help him when I was done with my cleaning, and that if he worked hard he could have a piece of Candy afterwords. (Sugar free chocolate...lol I am not a crazy person!) Not only did he clean his room wonderfully but he did it all on his own. Even some of our friends who had stayed the night commented on how well he did.
So I thought back...because it wasn't always this way.
First thing you need to do is go in and clean the room yourself. (If you can't clean it how can they?) Make it PRISTINE! (Who wants to mess up a clean room?) Once it is exactly the way it should be, bring them into their room and show them what you did and where everything belongs. Talk to the child and explain how after they play with something it should be picked up and put away.
Secondly, make sure you ask them to pick up their room at least once a day. If they have toys laying around outside of their room make sure you ask them to do it but also remind them where the toys need to go . IE "Please pick up the ball and trucks and put them back in the toy box."
Thirdly, the best learning tool is to teach by example. Now if for some reason your house is not always as clean as you would like That's ok! When you ask your child to clean their room Get up at the same time and do some pick up as well. 15 minutes is usually more than enough time for them, and you can accomplish quite a bit in 15 minutes too.

If at some point you look at their room and the mess is overwhelming to you...think about how they feel. Even if you don't get down and help them clean it you can give helpful suggestions.
IE "Put that shirt in the laundry. Put that train on top of your desk. Put those blocks back in the box." It helps keep them going and they feel like you are involved and helping them.

Every once in awhile you will have to go and clear out stuff! The best time to do this is usually when the child is not home. Either way...don't give in when you know that 1) They have out grown it. 2) They have broken it. 3) It's just impossible for you to live with it longer. (Unless however this is some sort of comfort toy to them. Throwing those away before a child is ready is tantamount to child abuse in my book.)
McDonalds toys, blocks that have hard water stains from months in the tub, stuffed animals with baby rattles that have sat on a shelf collecting dust for years....all of that can go!
(When you clean out old toys/clothes make sure it makes it out of your house. Give it to a neighbor, trade it in at a consignment shop IE Once Upon A Child. Donate it to Good Will. Throw it in the garbage. Sell it on Craigslist. Have a do-able plan to get it out in the next few days.)

For awhile when your child cleans their room on their own it will not be as neat as you would like. But make sure to point out and commend all of the good jobs they did. Then go in and do the last little bit explaining it as you go. Encouragement goes a long way into making a child keep his room clean on his own. Also I always try to reward Caden with something. A trip to the park, watching a movie, a piece of Candy...Whatever I know would suit him at that moment.

A few other small points. The earlier you start a child the more he or she will be inclined to do it on his own. Before Caden was even 1 he would come with his grandparents or I on janitorial jobs. We would give him his own feather duster or a rag with water on it, and turn cleaning into a game. We would even let him help us push the vacuum. At home we have Caden put his own dishes into the dishwasher, or help in wiping down the table.

Caden will be 4 in 4 days. And I am so happy with him and his room. He still needs my help sometimes. But I know that keeping things clean is a handy skill that will help him all his life.

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