Are your kids' rooms a mess? How to Get Your Kids to Clean and Organize Their Own Rooms

We were all kids once, and although some children naturally enjoy keeping their rooms clean and neat, we know that most kids find room cleaning a challenge. Between keeping track of clothing for school and sports, using toys and games, storing today’s electronics, and keeping up with books and school supplies, it’s tough to know how to organize a kid’s room. And of course there’s the age-old problem of having to make the bed every day. As a result, when it comes to parenting, helping kids get organized can feel like a tough war to win.
 
Organizing kids’ rooms is not a skill your children are born with, and it takes time for children to learn how to keep their space clean and organized.  Many children actually enjoy having a bit of a of mess in their rooms—it might feel like their rooms are the only environment they control, and maintaining it the way they want to is part of their process of learning and growing up.  Therefore, as a parent, it can help not to have huge expectations that will set you up for disappointment and conflict with your child.
 
Kid’s Room Organization Ideas
 
One way to introduce children to the concept of cleaning is to incorporate them into your own cleaning routine. Much like you do when you’re cooking or baking, give your child something to do that helps with your housecleaning so that he or she feels like part of the process. 
 
When it comes to talking to your child about cleaning his or her room, be clear about your expectations. Rather than say, “Clean your room!” consider something specific like, “Make your bed and pick up all of your toys.” RealSimple.com offers a thorough checklist for cleaning a child’s room, and a 15-minute cleaning checklist is available at About.com.
 
Professional organizer and TV host Peter Walsh told HGTV, “"There's lots of research that suggests your child's behavioral patterns are set by age three, and organizational skills are no exception. Children definitely follow your lead. You have to look at what behavior you are modeling for them from a very young age."
 
The site suggests that if your children are between the age of 2 and four, keep it simple. Make cleaning a game like playing house by, for example, using a plastic dustpan to scoop up small toys from the floor or using a timer to see how many toys your child can pick up in a specific period of time.  Keep it fun and give your child a job he or she enjoys. The site also offers specific ideas for helping children gain good cleaning habits between ages 5-8 and 9-12.
 
Some additional suggestions for helping children keep their rooms clean and organized:
 
1. Use a Chore List: Post a list of weekly tasks right in your child’s room to help your child stay organized and to let your child know what is expected.
 
2. Make a Cleaning Map: Go through your child’s room and point out all of the toys, books, clothes, etc. that have a place where they can be stored and organized. Working with your child and making it fun (use colors!), draw a map showing where everything should be put away.  
 
3. Create Plenty of Storage Space: Set up your child’s room for cleaning success by making sure there is enough accessible storage space for clothes, toys, and other items. If closets and furniture don’t provide the storage you need, consider adding accessible shelves or child-safe storage containers. But one tip might surprise you – avoid the toy box. Children tend to grab items that are stored on top and toss them on the floor while they look for that one special toy near the bottom.  If your child has shelves or color-coded bins, he or she won’t have to empty an entire box to find each toy.
 
And what about teenagers? If you need help in this department, mother/daughter team Jessi Morgenstern-Colon and Julie Morgenstern, have co-authored the book Organizing from the Inside Out for Teens.
 
Keeping a child’s room clean and organized might not be a battle you’ll always win. And that’s OK. But by working with your child, making things fun, and making your expectations clear, you can make big strides in the right direction.