Are you curious how I convinced my daughter to keep her room clean for a year? It really happened. She did it. Was she naturally tidy? Nope. Was her room often clean? Not at all. Was there one step I finally took that completely changed her habits? Yes. I am going to share that with you today.
I have wanted to raise organized kids. This one parenting hack helped.
If you are interested in the topic of teaching kids to keep their room clean, you might also be interested to hear my story about when I was at my end and stripped my daughter’s room of all her stuff.
The Back Story Leading Up to: How I Convinced My Daughter to Keep Her Room Clean for a Year
Parenting has thrown me for a loop. It has been beautiful and fun. I am amazed by the growth I’ve seen in both my children and in myself. It is so rewarding! It also humbling, refining, and just plain hard.
My expectations were all messed up when I walked into this job. Because of my wonderful parents, background in education and other various roles working with children, I had myself pictured as one of those fun moms. I’d make messes with my kids. We’d have adventures and make recipes.
We have done all of those things – a lot. However, as the reality of those kind of activities set in, the desire to make slime (read my true confessions about slime here), get creative, or go on dirty adventures lessened.
Oh sure – I did it. So many times I had to force myself to do it. There was a mental build up to make it happen.
The messes my kids can make is astonishing. I can have the house perfectly clean when they are at school. Within 30 minutes of them re-entering the abode, it will look like I had done nothing during the day.
The floors look like the aftermath of a party.
Dishes are scattered to every corner of the house. Half of them are missing too. It’s not your imagination, Mamas. Your kids are stealing your forks and spoons.
Guess where the spoons are disappearing. To their rooms. Oh, it might not be obvious, but if you try hard enough, you will find them. In a bag shoved in the back of the closet. Under their underwear in a drawer…or on the ground. On top of a top shelf that houses nothing else but dust. They are there. If you don’t find them in their messy rooms, they might just be buried in the garden. Go and check.
With the clutter that seems to permeate throughout the house when you are not getting creative, it can be hard to gear up for an even bigger mess. I would always still encourage you to do it.
All that said, the rooms are the worst.
I will spend hours on a Saturday trying to help a child get the bedroom back in order. It feels so good. Oh, sure, I’m nagging the whole time and threatening, “If I am working harder than you, I am out. You are on your own.” But I don’t leave because I’m determined to get it all done.
It won’t happen without me. I’ve told my kids they won’t leave their room until it’s clean. I won’t see them for 5 days. Sure, there’s a benefit to that too, but sometimes I just want it done.
There are random bags filled with random stuff. One bag might contain a sock ( the socks get swallowed up), a spoon (did I mention that already?), a piece of garbage, notes from friends, 2 pennies and oh hey – a dollar, a water bottle, more garbage, and… It just keeps going. You know Mary Poppins’ bag? It’s like that.
That’s just the bags. Multiply that by the drawers and the closets, and it gets that much worse. And I have only mentioned the hidden things. Everything else on the floor could probably fill 5 garbage bags.
I’m a purger. Every time I help clean a room, I am astonished the bags of garbage and give away items we can find.
I don’t model this kind of messiness.
My goal is to stay on top of it. However, when you have naturally “creative” and “imaginative” kids, it feels like the only way to keep the house clean is to keep them all tomato staked to you every day. Who has the energy for that?
We needed a solution so the rooms wouldn’t get crazy out of control.
How I Convinced My Daughter to Keep Her Room Clean for a Year
Over a year ago we said to our three kids, “If you can keep your room clean for a whole year, we will take you anywhere in the continental United States that you want to go.”
Nothing like a good bribe…I mean….incentive to make things happen.
All three kids put in an effort at first, but there was one who persevered through the whole year.
I wasn’t even intending to write about this idea, but when I put it out there on my TikTok, Instagram and Facebook accounts (I hope you follow along in those places for more fun and useful content), there was a big response. People loved the idea, so I figured it warranted its own blog post.
I had people on my social media asking questions like:
Did you only take the one who accomplished it or did you make it a family trip?
To be honest, I was a bit surprised by this question because I hadn’t even considered taking the kids that didn’t fulfill their end of the deal. I guess it plays into some of my parenting philosophy that I discuss here.
I absolutely believe in grace filled moments. As a Christian, I believe in living out the gospel message in our family lives.
That said, I don’t really adhere to the participation trophy mindset. Absolutely kids can be recognized for their hard work and contribution to a team. Every member is valuable whether they are the star player or the cheerleader. However, not everyone wins. Also, if there isn’t hard work, there shouldn’t be a reward. That’s just not how the real world works.
Wanting to teach my kids that hard works reaps its rewards is important.
The two that didn’t get the reward didn’t seem to expect it either. They never played the “it’s not fair” card. It was fair. Everyone had the opportunity; only one followed through.
The reward is still on the table for the other two. They can start anytime.
What were the expectations surrounding a clean room?
We did not anticipate nor require perfection.
The deal was, before you go to bed, your room needs to look tidy. Messes should be off the floor. Countertops shouldn’t be overwhelmed with stuff. Drawers shouldn’t be crammed full of everything you picked up off the floor at the last minute.
There were nights where she would say, “Shoot. I need a bit of time. It’s not done.” We’d give her five to fifteen minutes to pick it up real quick.
Part of the secret to her success was not letting it get out of hand. If you have a mess you can clean up in a short amount of time, it’s not too hard to finish it up at the end of the day.
There were some nights she asked permission to leave out a LEGO world she was in the middle of developing or other such set-up. We gave her permission, and she was always good at getting things back in order once the play was done.
If all three of them had done it, would you take them on three individual trips to different places?
What an incredibly good question that I hadn’t even considered. I don’t know what I would have done. The other two didn’t make it far enough to even have to consider it.
Taking three kids to three different places would be quite an expense. I think if that were the case, we’d try and find something they’d be excited to do as a family.
What I can say is that one-on-one time with kids is like gold. To be able to invest and focus on just one really builds both strong memories and depth of relationship.
The real answer to this question really revolves around an individual family’s financial situation and availability for time off. It will be different for different families.
I’d be curious what you would do. I’d love comments to let me know your thoughts.
Where’d she choose?
Rather have the quick answer? Kalahari Resort and Conference Center. This wasn’t on my radar at all, but my daughter had heard rumors of the largest indoor waterpark in the nation. They have four different locations, but we flew to the one outside of Austin, TX.
Side note: This review was not solicited or sponsored. I get no affiliate income from talking about my experience.
We had a blast. It was absolutely huge. Between the indoor waterpark, outdoor pool, indoor amusement park with climbing walls, arcade games, rides, laser tag, ropes course, escape rooms, bowling, crazy desserts and more, we never lacked something to do. Being an adventurer, this was right up her alley.
As an adult, I was super impressed by the accommodations. I’m not sure how old the resort is, but everything felt clean, well designed, and the staff was top notch.
We went during a slower and more affordable time. I may have taken her out of school for the adventure, but to have shorter lines while not spending as much made it worth it. One sad thing about going during less busy times is that fewer of their restaurants were open, so we were not able to experience a wider variety of options in dining.
The one thing to note if you are considering Kalahari is that there are definitely ways they can nickel and dime you. You can get a pass for the amusement area for some unlimited fun for your entire stay. Since we were there 3 full days and 2 half days, it was definitely worth it.
Food was expensive, so we went over to Walmart to grab snack stuff to keep in our refrigerator so we were only buying one resort meal a day. We purchased yogurts, fruit, granola bars and cheese snacks so that we had some healthier options available. I saw other families rolling into the resort with multiple coolers, so there are solutions for a less expensive experience.
Think it Made a Difference?
I believe teaching my daughter to keep her room clean has made a lifelong difference. She wants it clean now. Organization has become something she enjoys. She even asks me to clean out and organize some of our cupboards or drawers.
Of course we are in the trial phases with her being home without a bribe on the table, but everything indicates that she no longer wants to let her room get out of control.
This kind of organization helps her have a quiet desk where she can actually do work. I believe that a less cluttered space helps have a less cluttered mind.
The trip was well worth I on so many levels. Not only has she developed positive habits around cleanliness, but there is nothing like one-on-one special trips with children.