Are you overwhelmed by the mess in your child’s room? Your child is too. Use a free printable to teach your children to clean their room.
The floor is littered with dozens of stuffed animals. The blankets are in a tangled heap.
An overdue library books hides under a mountain of dirty laundry. The dresser is covered with a “rock collection” that really looks like a giant dusty mess.
And the Legos. Oh the Legos. If your child’s bedroom is anything like mine, you’d rather just shut the door and walk away.
If you Google “How to Get Your Kids to Clean their Bedrooms,” you’ll get over 366 million results. So if you’re struggling to teach your children to clean their room, you are not alone.
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Check Your Expectations
I’ve read in a lot of parenting forums that getting your child to clean their rooms is a big struggle. But one thing that makes it worse: parents’ expectations.
Unless you have a naturally, born organized child, most children are going to need a significant amount of help learning to clean their rooms. This is normal.
Learning how to clean a room is a learned skill. So you need to understand what your expectation is and how you are going to help your child meet that expectation.
These are some of the skills required in cleaning a messy bedroom:
- Sorting: You child is going to need to look at a pile of mess and be able to sort the clothes from the books from the toys.
- Categorizing: Once your child has a pile of toys, they need to be categorized into stuffed animals, action figures, Legos. etc. They need to examine them and create categories and this requires some thinking skills.
- Focusing: Your child needs to be able to sustain attention long enough to complete a thought process about categorizing or sorting.
- Decision-making: When faced with a crumbled piece of paper or a stained shirt, your child will need the ability to make a decision about how to handle the item.
- Spatial Awareness: In order to put books back on a shelf or clothes in a drawer, your child needs to be able to see how they will fit within that space.
Phew! It’s a lot so it’s no wonder this causes a lot of conflict for parents and children.
Unless these skills are already well-developed, plan to spend time for at least a few months helping them develop these skills. If you have a younger child, plan to spend several years teaching this.
Set Them up for Success
If you want your child to eventually clean a messy bedroom independently, they need to be set up for success. Here’s some basic ways you can prepare your child to become independent:
Get rid of the excess. The less there is to pull out and make a mess with, the easier it will be to clean.
Children are often more creative when there is less stuff to deal with. So this is a win-win.
A place for everything
Determine with your child that there is a place for everything. Find a container for each set of toys and stuffed animals.
We love to use baskets and I think they are super easy and effective.
The dresser or clothes storage needs to be manageable for your child – using clothes hangers probably won’t work for a child younger than 9-10.
Label all the places
If your child is already a reader, you can label with words. If your child is a non-reader or really struggles, use a picture.
Use your phone and take a photo of the item in its correct place. For example: take a photo of the Legos in the Lego bin.
You can use Amazon Photo to upload photos from your phone and have them sent to you. Or send them to your nearest Walgreens or CVS and pick them up at the photo counter.
If you feel like this is overkill, think of a preschool classroom. How do the teachers teach children where to put things away? They use labels.
Once you have labeled places, work with your child to understand that this is maximum capacity. For instance, once my daughter’s stuffy bins start getting overfull, it’s time to have a conversation with her about selling or donating the extra stuffies.
Free Printable for Cleaning Kids Bedroom
Of course, at PrintableParents.com, we use a free printable to help our children learn to clean their rooms. Visuals work so much better than the spoken word, and this printable helps children become independent.
The steps on the free printable are the ones I use with my own children.
- I put my stuffed animals in the baskets.
- I put my dirty clothes in the laundry room.
- I put my books on the shelf.
- I put my costumes in the dress up box.
- I put my toys away in the correct bins or boxes.
- I make my bed.
How to Use the Clean Kids Bedroom Checklist
In order to use this checklist, you’ll need it to be durable so you can use it consistently. Here are the supplies you’ll need and the process:
- Print out the printable.
- Laminate or place it inside a dry erase pouch.
- Place on a clipboard.
- Show the routine to your child and review all the steps.
- Start with the first step and do it alongside your child.
Create a Routine for Daily Pick Up
Consider a daily routine to keep the mess at a minimum. We keep library books on a downstairs shelf but sometimes they sneak into the bedrooms.
We have a routine where the children put their clothes in the laundry hamper or down the laundry chute immediately. If necessary, I put them in directly in my children’s hands instead of telling them to put them away. It removes the pressure of language and activates memory for my children.
At bedtime, we’re all exhausted but we use this strategy: we clean up the same items as their age.
I’ll say, “Here put away these seven books.”
Competition also works: “I’m putting seven legos in the bin, can you beat me?”
When you want to teach your children to clean their room, any progress is a success. My biggest advice is to avoid criticism and instead celebrate any forward momentum in picking up their room.
Here’s the summary for all the busy parents:
- Check if your expectations are realistic
- Set you child up for success.
- Declutter unneeded items.
- Have a designated place for everything.
- Use appropriate storage like baskets or bins.
- Label places with photos of items.
- Use a printable visual routine.
- Teach the routine side-by-side.
- Pick up the room a little each day to prevent a total mess.
You can teach your children to clean their room. Manage your expectations and prepare with free printable. Before you know it, your children will clean their room independently!