I have always tried to approach parenting with the end in mind. The goal is to send a fully functioning near-adult into the world able to fend for themselves. They should be able to do their own laundry, feed themselves, and be a good roommate to those they live with. To that end, they learned to do laundry around age 7, have been preparing their own breakfast and lunch for years, and are better at starting our tricky lawnmower than I am.
However, one glaring failure remains – their bedrooms are a disaster.
At ages 13, 14, and 17, they still struggle to put everything in its proper place, and even if I help, it doesn’t stay that way for more than a week.
What I wish I had taught them years ago – but am helping them to practice now – is a simple, step-by-step strategy that even a preschooler can use to get their bedroom neat and clean.
Here are 10 simple steps kids (and adults) can use to clean any bedroom thoroughly and efficiently.
- Make your bed. We are going to use that nice, flat space to help us organize the rest of the room.
- Pick up all the clothes and linens in the room – anything on the floor, chairs, or anywhere it doesn’t belong and put it on the bed.
- Gather a trash bag and three boxes (a tote, laundry basket, or even a designated area on the floor will work in a pinch). The first box is for things that belong in your room but are out of place or don’t have a home. Box 2 is for any items you find that belong elsewhere, whether that is a different room of the house or even somewhere else entirely, such as a toy you need to return to a friend or library books. Box 3 is for things you are finished using but aren’t trash; perhaps they need to be donated or passed on to a younger cousin. We usually put box one in the middle of the floor and place boxes two and three in the hallway. This makes more room to work and makes the space look neater faster.
- Next, one by one, pick up every item that is out of place. Place each one where it belongs (if you know it already has a home) OR in one of your three boxes OR the trash. This is probably the step that will take the longest.
- When the floor and surfaces are cleared, dust or wipe off tables, desks, and shelves. Sweep the floor.
- Find a place for everything from Box 1. This is where my kids need the most help from me. We may need to find a basket to store craft items, invest in an organizer of some sort, or install a hook, shelf, or other storage tool.
- Clear the bed. Everything on the bed belongs in one of these four places:
- Fold and put away clean clothes
- Dirty items go in the laundry hamper or straight to the laundry room
- Clothes you have outgrown or no longer love go in Box 3 to be donated
- Anything truly not useable anymore goes in the trash.
- Return everything from Box 2 to its proper place in the house.
- Put Box 3 in the car to be taken to away. OR find a convenient place to store those boxes for now. Since I haven’t been making as many donation runs lately, I cleared out bit of closet space to hold them until I’m ready to drop off.
- Finish up by throwing out the trash.
Voila! A clean bedroom! Now I would love to know – what’s your best tip for getting or keeping bedrooms clean?