“My dearest tween and teenage child, here’s how to clean your room,” says every parent.
First, though, let’s discuss what not to do when cleaning your room.
Cleaning your room does not mean making a walk way to get to your desk, closet or bed.
How to clean your room does not mean bringing to the kitchen once a month a collection of dishes and glasses that are filled with a cottage-cheese-like smelly substance that is actually expired milk that’s sat in a glass for weeks.
And cleaning your room dear child does not mean hiding everything behind something else to make it look like it’s clean!
Any parent with a tween or teenage child can relate, most likely, to each of the scenarios above and it’s a battle.
But does it have to be that way?
Today we’re going to share some thoughts from Christina Ellis.
Christina was a previous Dinner Table MBA podcast guest who talked about how to raise Intentional Teens and teaching teens responsibility.
During that interview she shared 5 ways on how to get a teen to clean their room. And this post is being shared on May 10th which is National Clean Your Room Day (every kid’s favorite day right)?
5 Steps to Having Your Tween or Teen Keep a Clean Room
Let’s face it, there’s no way for our kids to know what’s expected of them if we don’t set standards.
Sure, you might think, “But it’s obvious! There are empty dishes on the desk and clothes and the floor and the bed hasn’t been made in weeks!”
And while that may, all, be true, kids (and adults) aren’t nearly as bothered by their own messes as we are theirs. And hey, if you lay out a clear set of standards/expectations, there’s zero room for interpretation. It’s crystal clear what the expectation is for maintaining cleanliness in the home (or their bedroom, specifically).
Your requirement could be: bed made, dishes out of the room, no clothing on the floor, and clutter removed from dresser.
The next step is to have a deadline. Because, let’s face it, kids aren’t going to keep their room perfectly clean at all times (most adults don’t either).
So set a clear time requirement, such as, the bed needs to be made by 10AM (or when you get out of bed), whichever comes first. The dishes have to be out of your room within 24 hours. You get the idea.
If there is no time limit, you could argue that the dishes were out of the room… after a week. Or the bed was made… right before you climbed back into it.
I should add that this time frame is for your child’s benefit as well. You can’t nag them about their chores not being done if they haven’t yet passed the time requirement that was set for the task (something to remind your kids about when you’re going through this process).
Help your teen think through the process for what it will take to accomplish the goal in the amount of time given. You want to help them see that waiting until Sunday night (until just before the laundry is due to be complete) to start working on laundry.
Help them think through the steps of what needs to be done to reach the goal.
Also help them think through what is going on during the week (or on the weekend) that could get in the way of their responsibilities. They may need to plan around activities.
While this may seem like work (on everyone’s part) up front, you’re not only teaching them how to manage their house work, but also teaching them how they can manage every other responsibility in their lives.
You’re teaching them goal setting and planning, and how to think through the steps they need to achieve their goals. These are skills they’ll need and use for the rest of their lives.
Make sure that they have all the resources they need to accomplish their responsibilities.
Do they have a laundry basket in their room? Do they know where you keep the soap in the laundry room? Do they need more shelving in their closets to help them organize their clothing?
More than that, though, do they have the know-how to accomplish these goals?
Have you taught them how to do laundry? How to separate colors from whites? What temperature to wash clothing on?
When we regularly do things for our kids, we often don’t take the time to walk them through the process of doing these things on their own. But as our kids are taking over the responsibility for these chores, we need to teach them how to do all these things. It may be more time consuming for a while, but it will pay off (and save you tons of time, mom and dad) when they’re doing all these time-consuming tasks on their own.
Agreement and Follow Up
And finally, it’s time for follow-up.
Did they do everything? Did they get everything done in the time frame agreed upon?
And if the answer is “no” (and it’s probably going to happen, life gets busy and we all slack off from time to time), what are the consequences?
Before this happens, though, it’s important to have a clear set of consequences.
Rather than you coming up with consequences, mom and dad, ask your teens or tweens what they think the consequences should be. Oftentimes it’s harsher than what you would have imposed, anyway.
And then it’s done. Once your child has set the punishment for not getting chores done, they fully understand the consequences of not following through on their end of the deal.
In fact, between identifying standards, setting a time frame, providing the necessary resources and making them choose the consequence, there’s zero room for confusion on anyone’s part.
Conclusion: How to Clean Your Room
How to clean your room properly will differ from kid to kid, but the idea here is to make this constant battle less stressful and the end result more predictable.
Again, the steps for helping your teen or tween to maintain a clean room are:
- Standards – What is the expectation for how the room should be maintained?
- Time Requirement – When does the chore/task need to be completed by?
- Actionable Steps – What steps need to be taken in advance to achieve that goal?
- Resources – What tools or skills does your child need to have to complete the task?
- Agreement and Follow Up – What is the consequence for not completing chores?
We hope that you find this list of steps helpful and that it creates more peace in your home, for everyone! Come back and let us know how it goes. Or hop into our Facebook Group and join the conversation there!