How to get your children to clean up their rooms

The title of this post sounds like I've got it all under control, doesn't it? I certainly don't claim that my method is foolproof or 100 per cent for every person in every situation, but let me say it's worked so far in our family. This is how it goes.

1. Model tidiness in my own rooms. I've had to learn a lot about this. My husband and I have decluttered a lot of our useless stuff in the past couple of years and recently we've come to a point where it's not been too hard to keep the living rooms and our bedroom neat and tidy. When it's good, I regularly say, "Oh wow, I love this clean room. It's so peaceful." 

2. Don't get too stressed about the children's rooms being messy. I think I can honestly say I've never yelled at my children about cleaning up their rooms. If I did, it was a long time ago. I just don't make it an issue or a fight. (I've got too many other things to fight about in my life! (: ) Shut the door and walk away until you can do the following:

3. Do it for them, with them in the room. When my children are little, say 2 to 4, I tidy up their rooms for them while they watch on. I describe what I'm doing. "Now I'm going to pick up all the clothes. OK, good. Now let's move on to the lego. I'm getting it all together and now I'm putting it in the container."

4. Do it with them. When they are a bit bigger, say from 5 years old, I do it with them and give them specific tasks. "You can put all the cars in that container. I'll do the textas." I break the tasks down and give them something that feels achievable and yet still doesn't become a massive burden or stress.

5. Watch it happen. If you keep modelling the process, keep showing that you enjoy the result, and do it for and with your children so that they can learn the steps and not feel overwhelmed and anxious about the task at hand, they will learn how to do it - and to want to do it - for themselves.

Want to see my proof? My nearly teenage daughter's room is pristine, and has been for about a year and a half. And believe me, she was not a tidy child. If the kitchen is messy she sniffs her nose and starts putting things away. "I don't feel happy in a messy house," she says.

How does it work for you?