Monday, July 11, 2016

How to Get Kids to Clean Their Rooms Without Complaining

If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you probably heard about #ourfuncleaningday.  Quite a few people asked for more details on it so here you go!

I came up with the idea on Friday.  The kids' rooms were so messy that they were in danger of being listed as a national disaster, and I was planning to spend all day Saturday making sure they cleaned them.  I was prepared for a day of whining, crying, and procrastinating that would probably end with everyone super grouchy and barely a dent in the mess.

And then it hit me.  The best motivator for kids is to make things fun for them, right?  So why couldn't we make a fun day out of it?

"before" picture of the boys' room
The first thing to do was to get the kids hyped up for it.  I sat them down and explained to them that their rooms were making mommy sad because they were so messy.  Then, I told them that to make their rooms awesome again, we were going to have a fun cleaning day on Saturday.  We would work together, have treats and prizes, turn on some music, and have a blast!  I continued to remind them about how we were having a fun cleaning day tomorrow throughout the rest of Friday and by bedtime, they were excited and couldn't stop talking about it.

"before" picture of the girls' room
After I put the kidlets to bed, I went to work putting together a list of steps to get their rooms clean.  I ended up making 2 of them---one for when their rooms needed a major overhaul, and another for keeping it clean everyday.  Kids (and adults!) can feel overwhelmed looking at the big picture so I knew we needed to break it down into small, manageable steps.  Both lists are available as a free printable below.

Free room cleaning printables for kids that break it down into steps


After lunch the next day, we were ready to go.  And yes, this was totally staged...

I turned on the Cedarmont Kids station on Pandora, and we were ready to go!  The first thing on the list was to clean off their beds and make them.  I sat in the hallway outside of their rooms and watched them eagerly tackle the disaster of books, stuffed animals, and miscellaneous toys that had accumulated in their beds.  Seriously...why would you even want to sleep with a bunch of tractors in your bed?

Nano was so proud of his bed after he made it!
When they were finished with that job, I called them back out in the hallway where, beaming with pride, they each picked a piece of parade candy out of the ice cream bucket they'd collected it in at the Fourth of July parade on Monday.

Anna (top) and Katie (bottom) on their freshly made beds
After that, we continued to work our way down the list.  When they looked at their rooms and started to feel discouraged, I reminded them that we were only doing ONE thing at a time and showed them the before pictures so they could see the difference.  After each task was completed, they got to pick another piece of candy out of the bucket.

Side note: this is a great way to get rid of parade candy.

By 4 in the afternoon, we were all exhausted and the boys' room was done.

Nano in his cleaned room
The girls' room was, well, not.  It turns out that all of those little pieces that girls' toys come with are a pain in the neck to clean up.  Barbie clothes and accessories, doll clothes, magnetic dolls and all their pieces, etc...tractors are so much easier to clean up!

Katie and Anna had been working hard all afternoon though so I decided to give them a reprieve and finish working on their room another day.  When we do, a lot of those toys will be heading out the door to a thrift shop or put up high so they can't get them out without asking me first.

The only tantrum we had that day was one from Anna because...well, she's 3.  Need I say more?  The kids were so proud of the work they'd done that they asked to stay up until Hubby got home from the farm that night to show him.

I'm putting this one in the parenting win column!
How to get kids to clean their rooms without complaining! #momwin #parenting


How do you motivate your kids to clean their rooms?  I'd love to hear your tips as well!


  1. Awesome! Looks like you had a fun day. Very inspiring.

  2. Think this would work for a four and a two year old?

    1. My 2 year old didn't grasp the concept although he happily pitched in to help and grabbed as much candy as he could :) My 3 year old seemed to get it though so I think a 4 year old would!


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