How Clean Do You Expect Your Kid to Get Their Room?

Updated on April 16, 2012
M.M. asks from Tucson, AZ
16 answers

My 8 yr old had trash, toys, barbies, ect all over the floor in her room. Usually half of her bed is covered in clothes that need put away and other random things. Her dresser top is covered in things not looking nice and needs a good dusting i am sure. Her night stand is also covered. Its the messiest part of the house and she says she likes her room this way. Every weekend i have her it seems like i am trying to get her to clean it up. We cleaned everything about a month ago. And i tried really hard to have her clean up every night, but somehow its a mess again.
She throws an awful fit everytime i tell her to clean it. Telling me she hates me and she wants to go to her dads. SHe spent the whole weekend in her room. The floor is picked up but she stashed stuff in a bin that is not organized. Just random stuff thrown out of sight.
It also needs vacumed. I can get in ther tomorrow now, since she cleaned her floor.But i'd like all the surfaces cleared off too and stuff organized.
HOw clean do you expect your 8 yr olds room to be?

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So What Happened?

donation box is a great idea!
This child only feeds the dog (and i have to tell her). SHe has no chores. I just want her to put away her clothes, feed the dog and clean her room. She spends so much time on homework or going back and forth from my house to her dads there is no time for her to do anything else. Except on weekends. I dont know how her room gets so messy.

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answers from Augusta on

I call it good if I can walk in there without stepping on somthing, no food, trash, and desk is clean so she can do her homework.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I call it good if the dirty clothes are in the hamper and they can get in their beds at night.
Food is not allowed upstairs or in the bedrooms so there is no issue with dishes or trash of that kind. The only drink that is allowed in their room is water and it must be in a cup/bottle with a lid of some kind like a sports bottle so it can't be spilt by the cats or them.
They can't leave things out that the cats might try to eat or might destroy which is incentive for them to keep things vaguely tidyish.
My room was never spotless as a kid either. It was sanitary but never clean. That's all I ask of my kids.
It is something she has control over, unlike the copious amounts of homework and the constant going back and forth between households.
There are bigger battles to worry about.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

Is your house spotless everywhere else? Probably not, right? You have a junk drawer maybe? Or a messy closet?

Her space is hers. As long as there isn't any food in there, I think you let it be. It's the only thing she really has control of. You are going to drive her to her dads if you keep harping on it. Already you said she spent the entire weekend in her room? And she's 8? That's sad. I think you should have spent an hour helping her tidy it up, then getting out and doing something else.

Help her every other week to dust and vacuum. Cheerfully show her how it's done and spend that time with her. You're fighting a losing battle and there are many bigger things coming down the road.

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answers from Houston on

It sounds like she has too much stuff to handle. So I would have a donation box waiting for her. Also, organizing can be difficult, you may need to help her get into a good rhythm/system for that.

I don't mind a junk box, it's hard to know what to do with a lot of stuff, but not if it's covering every surface of the room. I wouldn't expect perfection, but a general nightly pick-up, bed made in the morning, clothes put away daily or in the hamper...

At her age, I was even cleaning the entire kitchen, mopping, vacuuming the house, doing my own laundry, cleaning the bathroom, helping cook dinners... she should clean her room and should NOT be throwing tantrums and speaking that way to you. Do not be afraid to be firm and discipline her. I did hate it when though, my parents expected my room to be cleaner than theirs.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Since I don't know you and see you interact with your child I am going to treat this question the same way I tell my friend who is having similar issues with her children.

A child has to be taught. Taught how to clean over and over. They just don't get it. Seriously they have no concept.

My friend had the kids help her when they were little and she expects that to be enough. She expects them to manage way more than she has to manage when she cleans the whole house.

I think giving her items is the way to start teaching organization. Have her pick up all the books and put them on the shelves. Once that is done take a break and make a cake, or bake some brownies. While they are cooking have her pick up all her shoes, match them up and put them where they go.

When she comes back you take a break and have a brownie and some milk. Once you guys get finished with that you check on the room again, have her pick up all the pants and put them where they go, if they go in a drawer or the closet on hangers.

This goes on and on, all day if need be but you are teaching her to prioritize and organize. You are teaching her to recognize different steps get the goal accomplished and it doesn't seem so much like "Go clean your room and don't come out until it's finished".

One thing I had to change was the laundry. She is not going to put it up when it is ready. It is going to end right back in the laundry pile still folded or on the hanger.

So I take the clothes to her room and put them up. I hang most everything that I can. I like being able to see the clothing hanging and neat.

It just goes better if I do this step so it can be done my way, she may decide to have it another way when she gets older but I want the laundry done my way so I do it.

Teaching a child life long skills is way more important than having her obey you this way...I can't think of how to put that...if you are teaching her then she is going to eventually be able to do this on her own and you won't have to argue about it every week.

The straightening her room each night is a good thing too. My hubby puts the kids to bed while I get some computer time. He helps this one or that one with their room then they read. Once that is done the older one will lay in her room and go to sleep. The younger one takes a while to drift off so he stays in there with him until he is asleep.

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answers from Columbia on

You are fostering habits right now that will follow her into adulthood.

I suggest doing an extreme cleaning in her room while she's away. Toss out or donate anything that she doesn't use, play with, wear, like, or has too much of. It's likely that she just has too much STUFF.

Give her things "a home." When she comes back, make it clear that everything in the room has a home and when she's done playing with or using it, that is where it goes.

Start having her pick up her things/put away clothes immediately. If she's up playing before breakfast, peek in her room and tell her that there's no breakfast until she picks up her things and makes her bed. When you bring in laundry, it is to be folded and put away immediately. If she wants to watch TV or play a video game, her room has to be picked up first. If she wants lunch, she has to put away what she was doing first. Same with dinner. And at bedtime, before she bathes or showers, her things need to be put away.

Just make it a habit to put away things when she's done with them. It doesn't just apply to her room. If she makes a sandwich in the kitchen, she should be putting away the bread, peanut butter and jelly, and cleaning off the knife she used. When she brushes her teeth, she should rinse her toothbrush and the sink and put away her toothbrush and the toothpaste.

This is just what you do. And to those who say "it's HER space, she should be able to have it as messy as she wants," okay, that might be one way to look at it. The way I look at it is that children should RESPECT their family home and the things that their parents have given to them. Allowing them to treat their space and things disrespectfully fosters an entitlement mentality that I simply cannot abide.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I can tell you that I never liked my mother telling me to clean my room and to have it the way the rest of the house was. Partly because I had just gotten done cleaning the rest of the house (only child of a single mother) and I did not mind my room to be a mess. I say that as long as there is no food, no serious dangers to allow her to keep her room how she likes it during the week then on Sat/Sun spend 30 min picking it up - she is 8 she can use a duster and she can push a vacume across the floor. I would say your room is yours all week but on Sat/Sun I want you to spend 30 min cleaning up to make sure it is CLEAN - explain the difference between dirty (eew) and messy (okay).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

How clean do I expect my kids to get their room??? Not very. I have 2 teenagers so I just close the door. I give up. Messy 17 yo moves out in September. I already feel sorry for his roommates.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

DS is 6. We help him with straightening but I am happy if the floor is clear so I don't hurt my feet stepping on that *&**!!# lego and so the cleaning lady can vacuum when she comes. He knows she will vacuum anything on the floor (actually she won't but I'm not telling) so he is pretty happy to pick things up. He doesn't eat or drink in his room so that is not a problem.

Also - he does not get 'clean your room' - it is overwhelming. He gets - clean up your legos. OK, now pick up the books and put them away. Now - put the stuffed animals on the bed. Even as an adult - looking at the whole house can be overwhelming and I mentally break it into tasks - ok - I will start with the laundry. Then I will water all the plants, then I will pick up all the mail and newspapers, etc.

This was about all my parents expected from me and to be honest - I find it hard to expect more from him than I do as an adult.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albany on

I don't. If she wants to live like a pig, it's her space.

I close the door. I choose peace.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My son is 8 and telling him to clean his room is overwhelming for him. Instead I go hang out with him in there. I give him warnings the day before saying tomorrow night you are going to clean up your room. Don't forget, tonight you are going to work on getting your room clean. Then that night while I'm hanging out I say ok, now it's time to pick up books and put them on the shelf. Now it's time to pick up all spy gear. Ok, now put all your stuffed animals in that basket. Ok, all those little things need to go in the bin. Anything that is left out I am going to vaccuume get to it. Ok, now put your pillows/blankets back on your bed. Ok, now put all your legos in the bin. Once it's done (he does it), I go in and vaccuume. I know, that seems like I'm coddling him, but I really think it helps him and he doesn't just freeze and do nothing or get upset (like when I say clean your room). He's naturally messy. He likes ALL his stuff out where he can see it. My brother was like this as a kid and it drove my mom nuts. Another thing you can try is to have a rule to put away one thing before you get out another.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Our 8 year old son has been taught since he was very young that toys need to be put away whenever they are finished being played with. He also has to put his clothes in the hamper when he takes them off, and he has to put folded clothes in the drawer whenever they are ready to be put away. He makes his bed whenever he gets up in the morning. Trash isn't an issue because he doesn't eat or have any trash in his room.

All of these things are routine. He's been taught this through the years, so he doesn't complain; it's just the way things are done in our home. His room doesn't get too messy except when he's playing, and he cleans up when he's finished. He also has lots of other chores (feeding the dog & pig, putting away dishes, cleaning the vents, dusting his room, etc.).

I suggest starting daily routines, and working with your daughter, teaching her how much nicer it is to have a neat space to live in. I know it isn't easy, but once she's use to it, it won't be such a battle. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Our family does a deep clean 2x a month, in part as prep for the cleaning lady. The trash must be IN the trash can. The clothes must be put away (preferably folded). The toys must be put away and off the floor.

I think that most kids hate to clean. Rather than tell her to clean the whole thing at once, tell her, "Before bed, you need to pick up all your toys." and then tomorrow, "Here's a basket of laundry. We will fold them together and you will put them away."

Don't give in to her emotional manipulations. Going to her dad's house is just a scare tactic and it won't get anything done. She just needs to do it.

If my SD's room is a mess the day the cleaning lady comes, she also gets to vacuum and take her own trash out, etc.

You say she spends a lot of time back and forth. I don't know if you even want to mess with the schedule, but maybe you and her father can sit down and look at the schedule and see if there's another way you can split the time that is more effective. I sympathize, as I have 2 stepkids.

Eight is also a mini adolescence, so try to take the emotion out of it and redirect her. Decide what's really important. My mom said I would really clean when I finally did it, but my sister would at least make the room (don't look under the bed) look better on a more regular basis. Decide what needs to be "just so" and what doesn't.



answers from Phoenix on

In case this helps: when our play room gets out of control, I bring out the "clean-up genie" - a coffee can with slips of papers in it saying only one thing, i.e. baby dolls, books, cars etc. The girls take turns pulling a slip out of the hat and only take care of that one category. Once done they come racing back for the next one. Clean up becomes a game and is usually done pretty quickly. Mine are 3 and 6, but maybe this still works for the 8 yrs old? Are your other two old enough to pick up the same items in their rooms so everyone is doing the same thing?



answers from Minneapolis on

The floor needs to be picked up weekly on cleaning day. Every few months I spend time with him and we do a total clean out. Throw junk out, get rid of some toys to donate. My son is almost 8 years old. His floor is usually clean but he likes to stuff things in bins and on his dresser too. I will sometimes throw things away when he's not home and he's never noticed.



answers from Minneapolis on

My kids rooms are messy, especially my 12 year olds. We have once a week clean up. Friday night is everyone's free night. No homework, no clean up, just fun. Then our whole family does Saturday morning chores and clean up. The kids clean their rooms. The rooms have to be clean before they get to go out and do anything fun or invite a friend over. And if it isn't done by the end of the day, they do not get Saturday night screen time privileges. For my 10 year old, I expect her desk to be cleaned up, not just piles and piles of stuff on it. Her floor to be cleaned up, no clothes or mess, futon and other places generally tidy. I don't have her dusting, mopping, etc. It's a big enough chore for her just to organize her own belongings. My 12 year old does sweep her floor and also put away all of her clean laundry.

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