Dear My Kids: I Don’t Care if Your Room is Clean, but I do Care About Your Strength of Character. So Shut up and Clean Your Room

getting kids to clean their room

char·ac·ter  /kerəktər/  n. 1. The ability to do the right thing when everything inside you, down to the bowels of your soul, wants to do the wrong thing. 2. Pretty much everything sucks if you don’t have it.

A few years ago, my wife and I decided to tackle our kids’ messy rooms.  It’s taken this long to make any headway.  But now, when we tell them to clean their rooms, they do it – really well.  They even keep their rooms cleaner on a day-to-day basis than they used to.

We started with “just put everything somewhere,” which meant transferring all the crap on their floor into a box, or under the bed.  We operated that way for awhile, mainly because of the screaming and crying that it caused, then ratcheted things up a bit when we changed the definition of “clean your room” to include cleaning under their beds.

After awhile we added “keep your storage bins clean,” and recently tacked on the “keep your shelves organized” amendment.  We still have a little work to do but I’m confident that, by the end of 2018, all rooms, with the exception of my closet and the garage, will be kept as they should.

Our kids fold their clothes and clean their rooms on Fridays.  They have multiple chores that must be executed on a day to day basis.  We have a family business meeting on Saturdays.  We still get some fussing, but we don’t get the meltdowns from long ago.

This process has been a lot more difficult for me than my wife – I’m the artsy, sensitive, empathetic one.  I hate doing things that cause people pain. Read more