Cleanliness is next to godliness.
Okay, so maybe it’s not found in the Bible. But then again, there does seem to be some connection between the kids’ cleanliness and my godliness.
Not that there should be!
But when I walk into their room and it looks like a hurricane has swept through . . . Well, I feel myself slipping into Crazy-Mom mode.
I just don’t get it. It’s not the way we’ve raised them. I’ve shown them how to tidy up their rooms; tried instructing calmly, writing it in their schedules, lecturing loudly, and hard-core consequences.
I’ve even tried shutting the door and declaring not to care anymore. But that didn’t set right either.
So the children’s bedrooms are probably my biggest domestic challenge.
And after years of wrestling, raging, and other equally ineffective techniques, I began thinking up creative ways to encourage the kids to get the job done.
More Mary Poppins, less Cruella Deville. A spoonful of sugar and all that.
Now on the chance that I’m not the only mama who finds children’s rooms a challenge? I’m passing along seven of the more successful ideas . . .
7 Creative Ideas for Kids to Tidy Up Their Rooms
1. M& M Cleaning: I’ll start with this one, as it’s one of my favorites. I like to sit out in the hall with a bag of chocolate candies and call out a cheery instruction, “Okay, go pick up all the dirty clothes off the floor!” Then one M&M for him. And 2 for me 🙂 And on to the next instruction. A handful of M&M’s can go a long way in getting a room clean. Frozen blueberries are a nice healthy alternative as well.
2. Masking Tape Cleaning: For this, I get out a large roll of masking tape and section off various parts of the room. If multiple children are sharing a room, it helps to clarify who is responsible for which part of the room. Sections can also make it more “manageable” for a young child. Clean this part first, then the next. Breaks it up into bite-sized pieces.
3. Race Cleaning: Here I announce enthusiastically that we’re going to have a race. Then I’ll set the timer and see how much he can get done in 5 minutes. Or, race against the clock to see if all four bunk beds can be made up in 15 minutes. That kind of thing. It’s rather fun to have a “prize” at the end – some kind of celebration? I love the Dollar Store.
4. Something New Cleaning: A new candle or centerpiece can be enough to inspire me to deep clean my living room, so it makes sense that it would be similar with our children. We don’t do anything fancy, but an occasional trip to the military surplus store (for the boys) or a visit to our favorite second-hand boutique (shabby chic for the girls) can be enough to motivate them to set their room aright.
5. Color Cleaning: This one is just plain fun! You call out a color and they have to put away everything that color: blue, red, green, camo, etc.
6. Mama-Means-Business Cleaning: This is probably the most dreaded approach by the children. This is when I can’t take it any longer and enter with two trashbags: one for donation and the other for trash. I’ll usually give them some warning that this is coming, so they can put away what really matters to them. But if you have too much stuff to put away – you have too much stuff (More on this: The Big Difference Between Treasure and Stuff).
7. Mercy Cleaning: And then sometimes I’ll go in and surprise the children by cleaning their rooms for them. I might do this when they’re off on a trip, so they have the pleasure of returning and seeing fresh sheets on their beds, the laundry put away, and floor picked up. Who doesn’t enjoy coming home to a fresh, clean room?
Do I ever just say, “Get it done, Son”? Or, “Go to it, Girl”?
I’ll even occasionally add, “Get it done, or you’ll be talking to your father”. Another “creative” motivator. 🙂
But the nice thing about having some fun ways to get the job done? It’s not nearly the wrestling match that it used to be. And I’m not nearly the grumpy mom, I used to be either.
Now if only someone would reward me with M & M’s for every laundry load I got done . . . ?
Hmmm…now there’s a creative idea!
*I hope you’ll share your ideas with us as well? Please do!
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Lisa is the happily-ever-after wife of Matt Jacobson and together they enjoy raising and home-educating their 8 children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She encourages women to embrace the rich life of loving relationships and the high calling of being a wife and mother. Lisa is the author of 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and her husband is the author of 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt and Lisa are also the co-hosts of the FAITHFUL LIFE podcast where they talk about what it means to be a biblical Christian in marriage, parenting, church, and culture.