Monday, January 25, 2010


How many times did I say that to my kids? More times than I can count. I hope I can offer some suggestions and tips that will make it easier for parents and kids to get the bedroom clean with minimal friction.

Parents: Make your child's room an atmosphere they will want to keep clean. Sometimes we decorate our kid's rooms as we would want them. Be sure the decor is pleasing to the child, not just to you. Ask them what they would like, and let them make color choices, ( within reason. Our son wanted to paint his room black. I put my foot down on that one.) Allow your children to browse through magazines and look for rooms or features they would like to have.

"A place for everything and everything in it's place" is a valuable reminder of how to keep order. I sometimes come across items when I am cleaning house that just don't seem to have "a place". You can waste a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with that item. Adding it to a designated place where it doesn't belong can throw your order out of whack and can become a slippery slope to chaos.

Children need colorful baskets and bins that are designated for specific items. They may need labels to remind them what goes where. Make it easy for children to keep things in order. Put things at your child's level so they don't have to throw things up high where they can't reach. They need convenient hooks for handing up jackets, caps, mittens, backpacks and they should be within their reach.

Rooms need to be set up with designated areas for specific purposes. If your child plays in his/her room you will need to arrange for areas for art, puzzles and games, clothes, school work and supplies, collections, etc.

Children need different things at different ages. Keep that in mind when planning the room. Make sure furniture is the right size for the age of the child. Give them adequate light for working on homework or puzzles, etc.  Organization is more important than cutesy themes, although they can sometimes go together, but keep in mind that you want the kids to learn to clean up after themselves so make it fun and easy for them. Make sure the space or container is large enough and the right shape to hold the things that are supposed to go in it. A round basket is not a good holder for rectangular coloring books. 

 Re-evaluate the plan periodically. Remember children grow, needs and interests change. Always include your children in the changes and the planning, even in the implementing. Do they need larger furniture now? Are they more interested in reading than in art? Do they need a computer and a place to use it?

Make it a good experience for the child when it is time to give up something that is outgrown. Have children help with selection, repairs and mending of old furniture, toys and clothing. This is the age of too much help your children learn to live comfortably with less. Thin out and get rid of the items that are not repairable or useable any more. Make the sorting purposeful. "You have outgrown these things but there are other children, less fortunate,who can use them. Let's fix them up and donate them to others."

Decorating a child's room doesn't have to be expensive. Often useful pieces of furniture that are good for display or storage can be found at yard sales or second hand stores, or even swap meets. Scratches, and damage can be mended or repaired, and colorful paint will make it look like new. Creativity and imaginations are key ingredients. Always keep the size of the child, the size of the room, and the storage needs in mind when you shop and plan.

If you have children sharing a bedroom, be sure you allow each to express their individual personality. Perhaps the room can be divided, or the bedding can be different for each child of his/her own choosing. Perhaps containers for personal items can be a different color for each child. Sharing a room shouldn't be a burden. In my first book, The Misadventures of Rooter and Snuffle, the raccoon brothers share a room and Rooter is asked to cleanup the room before going outside. Don't forget the value of children's books to set a good example for desireable behaviors.

When my son was a teenager I got tired of nagging him to clean his room. I realized he was rebeling against authority and asserting his independence, so I gave up. I posted a sign on his bedroom door while he was at school. The sign read "This room condemned by authority of the health department". It made us both laugh and made me relax and accept that it was time for him to be given the right to clean his room when "he" wanted to.

Please help your children clean their rooms in the beginning, and even later on if help is needed. Keep a dialogue going that teaches the right way to do things and the reasons why they need to be done. Keep your attitude joyful and your children will learn that cleaning can be a pleasure. Don't forget to give them praise and a big hug for a job well done.

(c) 2010 Sharon A. Soffe


kathy stemke said...

Great tips, Shari. I'm gonna get my mop.

Janet Ann Collins said...

What helpful information for parents!

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

I hope it helps. My brother and I hid everything under the beds. I never said a word about it, but my kids did the same thing. I think I became lax about making sure they had "a place for everything" as they got older. When they were young I was pretty good about doing things to make it easy for them and they were very good about cleaning their rooms and keeping them orderly.


Cheryl said...

Great article, Shari. Would you allow me to use it in the next issue of Pages & Pens? This is a quarterly newsletter put out by Musing Our Children. I am editor of that newsletter and the spring version would be the perfect place for this.



Shari Lyle-Soffe said...


I would be glad to have you use it.
Thanks. The problem is universal. LOL.


Susan J. Berger said...

I tried lots of stuff to make my kids clean their rooms. It was always a battle.
These are great suggestions