Bedroom Cleaning for Kids

Cleaning bedrooms for kids can be torture!

Some children seem to be born wanting to keep things organized; and then there are the rest.

The ability to clean and organize a room is the result of executive function capabilities.

Think about it for a moment. Do you have a clean bedroom or house? Is it a struggle? Are you able to prioritize what needs to get done? How did that happen? It happens (or doesn’t) because you have fully developed and strong frontal lobes.

For a child with Executive Skills weaknesses, the “how’s” of cleaning and organization need to be explicitly taught.

Cleaning the bedroom may never be the routine of choice. It's a learning process that can be broken down into manageable steps.

Kids look at a messy room and sincerely don’t know where to begin. With a little help from an understanding adult, your child can learn to organize, prioritize, and dig out of what seems to be a mountain of mess.

Let the cleaning begin!

Pre-Cleaning

If a messy room is too out of hand, a child feels very overwhelmed. The younger the child, the more likely they are to need some adult intervention in the form of pre-cleaning. You need to get in there and deep clean their room.

Get rid of any clothes that are torn, stained, too little or never-ever worn. Keep a box or basket in the corner of their closet for future use. Whenever clothes are no longer useable, toss them in the box. For the clothes that are left, label where each item is going to “live.”

Repeat the same process with toys, books, or anything else that is taking up space in their room. If possible, remove anything that is non-essential (like the toys) from their room and give them a new place to live in the home. Or, you could keep a few toys in their room that would be at an appropriate level for them to handle.

Pre-cleaning is not doing it for them. It does not put you on the losing end of a win-lose situation. It primes your child for success. Now they are ready for the checklist.

The checklist

With the help of the book, Smart but Scattered , I have come up with a checklist of everything that needs to be done when you have a bedroom cleaning session.

I keep this in mind when I organize their rooms from time to time. I also use the checklist to teach how to clean their room. Don’t assume they know how to do anything! Teach every single step. If the list say to empty the trash then show them exactly how you empty the trash.

A bedroom is for Sleeping

This bedroom rule will benefit kids in many ways: a bedroom is for sleeping…ONLY. It should not be a game room, a play room, or a media room (keeping the bedroom this way also helps at bedtime). If at all possible, find another spot for all of the toys a child can accumulate.

Reducing the number of items to keep organized and having a system in place for maintaining the organization can help the child with ADHD or Executive Skills weaknesses feel less overwhelmed.

Clothes Need Room to Breathe

Our behavioral doctor had some wonderful ideas on this topic. She said that the more things a child has to organize and maintain, the more likely they are to fail. If they only wear the same five shirts all of the time, keep only those shirts in the assigned drawer!

I must say, at first I was bothered by the thought. Don’t they want choices? After a while I realized that the unwanted clothes were never worn, and took up valuable real estate because they are in the way of the desired five shirts.

The clothes that are in season and are worn frequently are put in the drawers. All others must find a new place to live. At our house the closet has several of the closet maid cubbies for those extra items. I have each cubby clearly labeled, and it is off limits.

If the child gets into those drawers, then they have to reorganize them, usually while their favorite show is on!

Everything Needs a Home

Everything in the bedroom needs a home. Books live on the bookshelf. Shirts live in the shirt drawer. Shoes live…. you get the point.

Children really understand the home concept, and when something is left out, you can easily ask, “Where does this live?” The best part is that this understanding transfers itself to the rest of the house!

Daily Maintenance is Essential

You have to carve out time from your day, every day, to maintain your organizational system. One day can turn your house into a disaster zone!

If your child is not motivated to pick up, attach it to a goal. My favorite is playtime. “As soon as you have put everything back in its home you can play.” If they decide they don’t care, get out their favorite game and begin playing it yourself, with lots of enthusiasm. This will usually do the trick.

Parenting with Logic and Love has tons of great ideas to deal with chores.

Using pre-cleaning, checklists, and homes will allow your child to become more organized and efficient in cleaning their bedroom.