28 Not-So-Easy Steps to Getting a Kid's Room Clean

 messy kids' room

Perhaps there was a funky smell in the hallway. Perhaps you opened his or her bedroom door and a tsunami of Legos nearly knocked you over. Maybe you just realized you can't remember the last time the bed sheets were changed -- or if they've even been changed this year. Whatever the tipping point was -- you're now faced with a difficult truth: It's time to get your kid's room cleaned up. 



Now, as smart mothers trying to raise responsible kids, you'll obviously want to have your children clean their own rooms. This has the benefit of teaching them valuable life skills -- and also then you won't have to confront whatever is making the floor under their bed so sticky. 

Some people might think that getting your kid to clean his or her room is tricky, but not me! Just follow my simple 28-step system and that room will be cleaned in no time. 

Okay, in some time. 

Fine, before he or she leaves for college.

The steps:

1. In a pleasant but firm voice, call the child to his or her room.

2. In a firm but loud voice, call the child to his or her room.

3. In a shrieking and shrill voice, tell the child to "come here NOW or no screen time for A WEEK!"

4. Comfort the child, who is openly weeping at the thought of a week without PBS Kids.

5. Calmly and patiently explain to your child that his or her room is messy and that it needs to be picked up. 

kids clean

6. Watch the child stare blankly at you. Sigh as he or she asks for a snack.

7. Explain that snacks are for AFTER cleaning and suggest that he or she start by picking up all the Legos on the floor. Tell your child you will check back in five minutes.

8. Pour glass of wine and spend next five minutes composing a Facebook status update about what a great listener your child is and how proud you are of your kid for learning to take care of his or her own room.

9. Check on the child. Discover that there are, unbelievably, MORE Legos on the floor than there were when you left. 

10. Remind the child that this is time for CLEANING and that he or she can build that alien firehouse and gas station set later. 

11. Watch your child halfheartedy push one Lego at a time into a bin. Realize that at this rate, you will be retired before this project is finished. Fake-cheerfully offer to help for a few minutes, "just to get you started."

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12. Spend four minutes on your hands and knees, sweeping Legos into a bin with your arm. Remind yourself that sorting out Legos by colors or shapes is for suckers. Feel like some real progress is being made.

13. Turn around to discover that your child, who hasn't taken a nap in years, is sound asleep on the floor, surrounded by stuffed animals that also need to be put away.

14. Where did that glass of wine go?

15. Take a picture of your sleeping child so you can post it on social media later with a caption like "aww, still my baby!" Once the perfectly adorable picture is captured, shake your child awake because gosh darn it, he or she is helping you clean ... and because you want your kid to actually sleep at bedtime.

16. Fortify your child with a cup of juice and cheerfully suggest that you play a game! Let's see how many stuffed animals he or she can put away in five minutes! Ready, set, go!

17. Return in five minutes and discover that the answer is one. Your child can put away one stuffed animal in five minutes and -- WAIT A SECOND. WHO GOT OUT THE PAINT SET?

18. Congratulate yourself on being smart enough to buy washable paint as you scrub a bright purple handprint off the wall. 

19. Go to the kitchen to wash paint off your hands. Discover your child hiding in the pantry, eating chocolate chips and croutons. Take a deep and cleansing breath. Send the child back to his or her room with strict instructions to put away stuffed animals, dirty laundry, and all of his or her Legos.

20. Step into the bedroom to check the progress. Step directly on a Lego.

21. Patiently explain to child that, yes, that was a bad word that mommy said and that only grown-ups who step on hard, pointy-edged plastic bricks are allowed to use that word. 

22. Now seems like a good time for another sip of wine. 

23. Check on child who is actually -- gasp!-- cleaning.

24. Triumph! Your child finds you to report that his or her room is cleaned! Success! You are an excellent mother, teaching valuable lessons about responsibility!

25. Discover that while the child's floor is clean, his or her closet door no longer closes and your kid has, inexplicably, put all his or her dirty underwear in the trash can. Also, your child has spilled the juice cup on the one patch of carpet that didn't already have a stain. 

26. Take a moment to softly weep.

27. Go to the bathroom for a tissue. Discover a pile of wet towels dripping on the floor next to the toilet, which someone forgot to flush. Again.

28. Call a real estate agent to determine what the process is for selling a house in "as-is" condition. 

I'd share the rest of the steps, but -- spoiler alert-- they all just involve wine, crying, and wondering why we can't have nice things.


Image via iStock.com/Lisa5201

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