The kids have been home from school for less than an hour and although you rummaged through the house trying to find order in the mayhem; it looks as if you spent all morning watching morning shows and eating chocolate. How kids can make a mess so quickly is truly one of the amazing feats of childhood and rather than getting better with age; it actually gets worse! So when you can’t stand the environmental chaos that steals your solitude what can you do to start getting children to clean up their room! The advice to you today may not be exactly what you want to hear; but it is the truth! Read on!
Who cares? If your children want to live in a mess and they are old enough to not just do better but know better; then let them. Most kids past the age of 5 are totally capable of cleaning up their own rooms to an extent where it can at least be walked through and if they don’t than apparently the mess and chaos does not bother them. Let them waddle like pigs in their own mess; provided of course it isn’t a safety or health hazard! Nagging and constantly worrying about the state of their rooms is a frugal waste of mothering time and only seems to circumvent the entire process of teaching them about responsibility and reaping what they sow! Eventually, they will run out of underwear or not be able to find their favorite stuffed animals, a pair of matched socks or a set of shoes- that’s when you simply and gloriously tell them ‘had your room been clean like it was supposed to, you would be able to find this stuff, now do what you can and get your self ready for school!’. If they have to wear mismatched socks or their siblings shoes or worse, dirty underwear to school; they will learn their lesson. And this type of learning from experience sinks in much more quickly than all the lecturing that a parent can do! Reaping what they sow is also referred to as learning through experience!
One of the things that parents should realize about a child’s room is that once they are passed the age of Winnie the Pooh decorations it is their domain. This is their place in the house and they should be able to (within reason) be able to decorate and live in it as they wish! Imagine them trying to rearrange your office or kitchen cabinets! Imagine them demanding that you do something different in your bedroom. A child’s room is their retreat, filled with the imaginative dreams in their head and there are few who will care about the mess. Instead they will see their favorite Christmas present, the necklace they got from a best friend, a trinket from a friend or teacher and a place where they can be left alone to thrive in a world that is their own. If the mess isn’t hurting you; close the door and refuse to enter if you are obsessively Type A! Otherwise you risk snatching their freedom, individuality and energy right from under them like a rug. Of course there are instances like when company is coming over or when a friend is staying the night that getting children to clean their room is important. But if you aren’t selling your home and expecting a flood of strangers to do a walk through at any moment- the idea is frivolous!
When it comes to kids every parent realizes at some point that ‘this too is just a phase and will pass.’ Obviously, a messy room in the midst of polite, well adjusted and responsible child and student is not something to worry about. Think about your own room! Some people moved out of their parents and made the succinct decision that they will NEVER make their bed because they spent years having to do it. But eventually, they (maybe even you) realized that they liked their bed better made and that their room or home was far more pleasant to entertain in when it was a controlled collision of stuff and imagination! Your kids will come to the same conclusion. Let them come to it in their own due time and whatever you do, pretend that their room and the appearance of it does not bother you in the least. If you spend your days constantly cleaning up after them, going through their room looking for dirty clothes when a laundry basket sits in the bathroom or primping pillows and covers without so much as a thanks you are idly trying to control an environment that you have no business controlling. This can be called a waste of time. Getting children to clean their room is really not about teaching responsibility or respect; it is about imposing the opinions of the parent! Close the door and walk away!
Obviously, when children are young cleaning a room can be done to Barney or Mickey Mouse songs and it is a fairly easy feat to accomplish. But no matter how retentive they are when they are young as soon as they become tweenies; few care about their room. If you just can’t stand it and you can’t ignore it than you may be thinking about paying them to do it each week. This is a bad idea! This is like someone paying them to go to school! Instead; you can demand that it be done one day each week or you could just insist that they will get no further privileges around the home if it isn’t done. Take away Facebook and the Wii or the TV when a new movie is being released and you are bound to get a response. But think for a minute; with all the pressing and important things going on in your child’s life is the demand for a clean room really that important. Is it about YOU or them? The bottom line is that every human needs and deserves their own space where their individuality and creative juices can flow; where they can be themselves and let go of the rules for a few minutes each day. A child’s room should be one of those places. Now if fungus is growing on pizza crusts in their closets and empty soda cans are being stored under their bed than chances are you should step in. But if the hazard is just in aesthetics the best advice for every parent is to let it be! There are bigger parenting fish to fry than this one!