Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
How can I get my kids to clean up their bedrooms? It's a battle every weekend and I'm exhausted. Their rooms are a total mess, clothes everywhere, food wrappers, you name it. Sometimes they can't find their shoes because it's buried under a pile of dirty clothes. I go in and pick up everything on wash day, and find clothes stuffed under their bed. What should I do, not give them all their allowance, or not let them play with friends?
Can't Stand It
Dear Can't Stand It,
An attitude change is needed, but mainly on your part. A kid's bedroom is their "sanctuary." To a certain degree, you should be respectful of their privacy and don't bother them about their room. However, if they want to have a messy bedroom, then they must follow three rules:
1) NO FOOD allowed (ants or other insects may become a problem).
2) NO WET towels or clothes lying around (mold forms and stains).
3) They must pick up their bedroom if a friend is coming over. Otherwise, the friend cannot come over.
4) Schedule regular cleaning up. For example, regardless if a friend is coming over, their room must be cleaned up on a mutually agreed upon schedule, i.e. every weekend, every other weekend, or once a month. If they do not pick up their room by the scheduled date, then have consequences until the chore is done such as no allowance, TV,
computer, or other activity that they normally enjoy.
Don't fight any more battles with their room mess. Don't do their laundry unless they have the foresight to put their dirty clothes in the hamper on wash day, or if they are old enough, then let them do their own laundry. Don't help them find their "lost" shoes or anything else. It's their room, let them live in the disorder. They will come around to picking up after themselves when they realize it's their responsibility, not yours.