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Teaching a child to keep their room clean can be a challenge, but this is working great, so I had to share it with you!  I love to have a clean house and I love to know where everything is, so I want my kid’s rooms to be organized, too.  Otherwise, they are complaining of being “bored,” but it’s really because they are overwhelmed.   An organized room solves that.
teach your kids to clean their room

Do you ever feel like your kid’s bedroom is always a mess? I admit that my biggest “time-drainer” is picking up our kid’s clothes. As my Mom has put it, they just “walk out of them”. Its so true!

Our kids have this terrible habit of taking their clothes off & just leaving them wherever they were standing. I had to come up with something to teach our kids to pick up their clothes and here is what is working for us. (Leave a comment of what works for you!)

Why are their clothes always on the floor, you ask?

They dress up like superheros… a lot!


They dress up in their swimsuits & pretend to go surfing (or they just wear their swimsuits because they like to wear them!)…
lazy days on the back porch

They dress up in their Dad’s old football jerseys…

They dress up in each others clothes & play “family”…

They dress up in their pajamas and play “camping out”…

Yes, our kids are constantly changing & changing again.  (Please tell me I’m not the only mom dealing with this!)

I had to make a new rule because they were “forgetting” where they left their clothes and getting out new ones. I was washing up to four outfits a day sometimes (per child!)  To help with keeping kids bedroom clean, we have implemented a new rule & consequence because I DID NOT want to nag them about it constantly…

Here is the rule:

For each article of clothing that I have to pick up off of the ground, they go to bed five minutes earlier.

Teaching your child to keep their room clean

Trust me, this is enough incentive for the kids to pick up their clothing.  They really don’t like going to bed before 7:00 (their bedtime).  (see my post on teaching your kids to sleep in later here) 

Here is how I taught them to clean their rooms:
Sunday- told them about the new rule and explained it IN DETAIL!  “Every article of clothing that you leave on the floor gets you five minutes of earlier bedtime. A sock? 5 minutes. Two socks? Ten minutes.”    I went through a lot of examples and they gave me some, too.

I told them that if they were just changing into a costume/dress-up outfit, they could just put their clothes on their bed or dresser for later. They needed to do this because when they leave them in a ball on the floor, they end up getting out a new one ten minutes later.  I told them that they would get a day to practice it before it started. So they had all day Sunday to work on this before the consequence would start on Monday.

Monday- they both got ten minutes for leaving clothes out & I stuck to it, even though they both kept asking for “Just one more chance.”


(Even if you don’t have a set bedtime, you can just say “Its time for bed. You were going to get to stay up for ten more minutes, but you have to go to sleep ten minutes early tonight for leaving your pajamas (or whatever) on the floor today.”   Our kids know that 7:00 is bedtime (well, the 7 hour, but the minutes vary), so when they saw the clock still saying 6, they were upset. (even if it said 6:59, that is early to them!)       Reminder: our kids get up at 7:00, so an early bedtime is important. See my post here on: My kids get up too early- How to keep your kids in bed later).

Tuesday- no clothes on the floor
Wednesday- Pajamas WERE on the floor when I walked by the room to see how they were doing getting ready for school and by the time that they were dressed & ready for school… guess what? Pajamas were put away. Woo-hoo!!

This consequence will not last foreverprobably about one month, but it is in place right now as a teaching-rule. (As with many of our rules & consequences. We make them to teach our children and after they have made it a habit, we can get rid of the consequence & just remind them, when needed.)

Update: This is an easy system, too.
If you want to start chores with your kids, but not have to deal with a chore chart, try these. We have them & they are easy and they are “normal” chores, like sweep the floors, dust, clean up the living room, etc… It makes it easy to say “Ok everyone – go grab 2 chore sticks and then you are done and you can go play.”

You can find them on Amazon. Here’s the affiliate link:
A container of Chore Sticks with a few sticks resting beside it.

Or I encourage you to join our declutter course.


I bet you will find this post helpful, as well:
And the reason that our kids go to bed at 7:00:
in bed by 7:00



Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. I can’t believe I didn’t see this post till now. Thank you Facebook ! : ) I LOVE IT. Never saw it coming, you are amazing Becky. I’m defiantly going to start this at our house, and I’m with Stella, the big men need something for keeping clothes off the floor too !!

  2. This sounds as a very clever rule and I think that it could be used for everything. Thank you a lot for sharing your experience!

  3. The kids are so amazingly clever! I love when my three-year-old wears my heels and she pretends to be a teacher of her teddy bears. The rule which you have invented for your kids sounds to be really useful. Thanks a lot for sharing this idea!

  4. My boys, too, love to dress up and change multiple times a day. But we’ve never had problems with clothes. We keep a basket in their room and they put their clothes in that. Easy peasy for everybody 🙂

    Glad you found a system that works for you.

    1. My boys were never a problem. Their rooms might get a little messy but they took care of it. My problem has been with the girls. I’ve said more than once I would raise 3 more boys before I would willingly raise another girl. 2 girls have taught me that I really don’t like being the Bad person, at least that’s what they say. The boys just called me a witch and did their chores. 😂. I could live with that. ☺️

  5. So helpful article! I have two daughters and I am trying to teach them how to clean their rooms. I make something like a checklist for them. Thank you for the interesting and useful article!

    1. They are pretty good about cleaning up their toys, so I don’t really have to worry about that. Its just the clothes. If our 4 year old doesn’t clean up toys, I”ll say “I’m walking around now with a bag to get all of the toys left on the floor” and then they run around like crazy to clean up b/c if it goes into the bag, it doesn’t come back out (it gets donated or thrown away).

  6. How to get your kids to pick up their clothes – We have 3 teenage girls and I am going to adjust this idea to say that for every ITEM Mom picks up they put their electronics (including phones) in lock down for 5 minutes. That should be highly motivational. THANKS for the idea!

  7. This is such a great idea, I’m going to try it this weekend! How long do you give them to clean them up? Before bed? Thank you for sharing.

    1. Depends on their age. I just tell them “I’m about to head upstair to your room, so if there is anything on the ground, I will see it”. I do it mostly for their clothes. They keep their toys & things picked up… its the clothes that was driving me crazy. 🙂

  8. Love, love, love this idea. We have an issue with clothing never making its way into the hamper. I am definitely using this at our house. We are finally at an age with the boys that consequences are affecting then and working, so this suggestion is great. Thanks!

  9. I have big problem with my toddlers! They hate cleaning and their room is a completely mess! I’ll try your advices!

  10. I’ve been teaching my daughter to clean her room. She needs a time limit and direct consequences without “one more chance.” If we don’t do this, she wanders into her room, starts playing and makes an even larger mess. To this end, we’ve instituted a “Toy Time Out.” Any toys that I pick up before she does, go into toy time out. They stay in time out for a couple of days, and then she gets them back. Most of the time, she picks up her room when toy time out is on the line, but if she slips back into her playing ways, a few toys sit in my closet for a few days. She learns urgency, consequences, and we don’t have to get angry. This is the rule, period.

  11. My twins are 8. Which means they are at an age where they pour their own drinks, make their own sandwiches, and heat up food in the microwave. It’s a blessing, and a curse. On the one hand they are being self-sufficient, but on the other hand they create a mess that resembles about 5 people being in the kitchen at one time preparing a 3-course meal – and that’s just to make a sandwich.Haizz

  12. I just tried this yesterday with My 7year old daughter and 9year old son and it was amazing!! I told the kids to go clean their rooms and got the usual reticence – the crying and whimpering from my daughter because “there is too much stuff and I don’t know where to put it” and I got about 5 minutes out of my son trying to look busy before he just started playing with the stuff. We’ve been down this road before (SOOOOOO many times!) And I had chores of my own to do. I offered this to my children: you help me with one of my chores and I’ll help you clean your room. Voila!! My daughter VOLUNTARILY swept and mopped the house (we have hard wood floors in all the main areas of the house, so this is no small feat) while I did a thorough scrub of the kitchen. Then we moved on to clean her room which only took about 20 minutes with the two of us working together. My son caught wind of this and decided he wanted a shot too. He cleaned the bathroom by himself – sink, counters, inside and outside of the toilet, tub/shower and sweeping/mopping the floor. I did the mirror since he’s not tall enough. Then we cleaned his room which took about 25 minutes. Overall a very productive day and the kids felt “grown-up” and we’re very proud of their work. Not to mention our house looks great!!

  13. My son is at the age of four and I started him to teach him how to keep his room neat and tidy. I think that if they start feeling responsible for their room then your children will definitely start to tidy it on their own.

    1. I tried that 5 times, 3 times it worked. The boys did fine, the girls….well that’s another story.

  14. Wish I had known about this great idea earlier! Thk u…I will pass this others….