“Go clean your room!” We’ve all heard it and, as parents, we’ve all said it. But we parents need to remember cleaning is something that has to be taught. Our parents and even our grandparents spent a tremendous amount of time showing us the right way to clean. Here are some age appropriate tips to help you teach your kids how to clean their rooms.
Younger children need a lot of direction, so you should start with simple chores that you can do together until you know they understand what clean actually looks like.
Start by teaching them how to make their bed. Use a simple comforter and a pillow sham on their bed and have the child learn to pull up the comforter nice and straight. Move the bed away from the wall so your child can be on one side while you’re on the other, making it together.
Take a picture of your child’s room when it’s CLEAN so they understand what you mean by “Go CLEAN your room.” Have a place for everything and show them where everything goes. Consider placing labels on containers so they remember where all of their things belong — this will make picking up a breeze.
Laundry is easier to teach small kids than you may think. Get three small laundry bins — one white, one black and one brightly colored. Teach them that it’s a game and the right color needs to go into the right bin.
You can even give your child the responsibility of vacuuming their own bedroom. Give them a cordless, rechargeable vacuum that they can keep in their room.
An easy way to establish a cleaning routine is to have your child do a “Ten Minute Tidy” before they go to bed. This should be a time to put everything where it belongs and to get organized for the next day.
If you have a pre-teen, teach them how to dust their room. Give them a spray bottle filled with water and a microfiber cloth so they won’t be cleaning with chemicals. Teach them that the most effective way to dust is in a circular motion and that they should dust from top to bottom/back to front.
Tweens should take laundry duty to the next level. Have them take their laundry bin to the laundry room when it’s full. Once it has been washed and dried, teach them how to fold and put their clothes away. A folding board may be a good investment, as it will help them fold shirts instead of rolling them up into balls.
Teenagers need you to set expectations. This age group is notoriously resistant to cleaning their room, as they use it as forms of self-expression. My teenage daughters pull everything out of their closets when they’re getting ready for school, then run out of time to clean it up before catching a ride to school. I don’t nag them in the morning, but the expectation is that the room should be put together before they go to sleep.
Teenagers should also be doing their own laundry — from sorting colors to folding and putting their clothes away. Teach them that the laundry room is not a place to store their clothes when their room is looking messy. Set the expectation that they should do one bin of laundry at a time to avoid having dirty clothes overflowing out of their bins. They can also learn to hang dry their clothes to prevent wrinkles.
Teens love to eat in their room. The expectation should be that all dirty dishes are brought to the dishwasher by the end of the day.
They can also be expected to de-clutter their rooms on a regular basis. Clutter is the main reason that rooms don’t get cleaned. Teach them that they can get rid of the things they do not use and show them where and how to do it. Introduce them to FreeCycle and the Salvation Army.
Photo credits: Leslie Reichert