My wife and I have 3 kids and let me tell you, sometimes they can be messy. Since they are all different ages, we’ve wondered what age should a child clean their room on their own.
Here’s what has worked for us:
Start when kids become toddlers. When they get bored with one activity, help them clean that up before starting a new activity. As they get older, help them clean their rooms weekly. By age 8, they should not need your help. Don’t give allowance for room cleaning, but do have consequences for not doing it.
But there’s a lot more to know about chores, allowance, and age-appropriate cleaning for kids. So in this article, we’re diving into the what some realistic expectations are for your child as far as chores in general and their room specifically.
Ultimately, we’ll look at what age should a child clean their room to help you decide what’s best for your house.
Let’s dive in!
How old should kids be to start helping around the house?
Personally, I think it’s great to start kids young and then increase the expectations as they get older.
Our youngest daughter is almost 2. While we don’t exactly have expectations for her, we do insist that we clean up one activity before starting another one, and she’s happy to help.
In truth, at that age, kids want to do whatever you and their older siblings do. So if they see you (or them) cleaning, they naturally want to do that too. If, however, you have older kids who tend to be couch potatoes and fight tooth and nail to not help around the house much, that is what the younger one is learning is acceptable.
So start young with basic expectations such as:
- Clean up crayons
- Organize stuffed animals
- Put trash in the trash can
Then as they get older, you can just ramp up the expectations and eventually start paying them an allowance for going above and beyond. Once they start walking, they can start helping, at least a little.
Confused about allowance? You’re not alone!
I wrote a recent article that goes deep into allowance; when to pay, what to pay for and what not to pay for. But I also break down appropriate chores by age groups too! It’s the ultimate guide to giving kids an allowance.
What surprised me the most in writing and researching that was the results of a nationwide survey that lists out everything parents most often pay their kids to do (some even pay for brushing teeth).
Just click that link to read it on my site.
Should you make your teenager clean their room?
My older 2 daughter’s rooms are rarely spotless. But we do have the expectation that once a week they do a basic cleaning of them.
We also have other rules like to no eating in their rooms as we got tired of finding disgusting plates and bowls under their beds.
As kids enter the teen years, it gets harder to communicate with them effectively.
After all, they are dealing with complex emotions and trying to figure out how to assert themselves and still learning to communicate effectively. And let’s face it. They can really push our buttons and try our patience.
So rather than a headbutting contest where you try and “make” them clean their rooms, it’s probably better to use both an allowance system and a system where if they fail to do certain things, they lose priveledges.
I don’t think kids should be paid an allowance for cleaning their rooms in a basic way.
But if they do their own laundry and sweep, mop, and vacuum? You bet! That’s worth something to my wife and me and is worth paying for.
But if their room is a mess and they refuse to clean it even a little? Time to lose that phone until it’s clean, or maybe no sleepovers for a month.
You’ll be amazed how spotless that room can get when faced with either of those prospects.
Learning how to navigate being a parent is tough. Kids didn’t come with an instruction manual and neither did we. That being said, in my decade-plus of being a parent, being married to a teacher, and working with hundreds of kids in my day job, I do see a lot of what works AND what doesn’t work.
I wrote a recent article that breaks down what I (and many others) believe are the top qualities of a great parent. I wrote it from the perspective of a dad, but I think it applies equally well to moms too.
Just click the link to read it on my site. What surprised me the most was just how important the role of a father is to daughters in particular.
Why do kids have messy rooms?
Kids are easily distracted and get bored easily.
It’s not uncommon for my daughters to move from one activity to another quickly, often not cleaning up the previous activity when they switch.
The easy access to technology today doesn’t help with distraction either.
After all, the constant screen in the hand of many kids, notification dings, and how those things affect our attention span and can even impact ADHD are a real problem for many kids today compared with previous generations.
Don’t believe me? I wrote a recent article which breaks down exactly how technology affects the brain negatively, with a lot of studies to back up the claims.
If you don’t set limits on technology at a young age, you’ll pay the price for that later. So check out my post (just click the link to read on my site) to see exactly what the problem is AND what to do about it.
Then for school-age kids who have been at school all day getting their brains worked, it’s not a surprise that when they come home from school, and especially after-school activities, that they just want to veg out.
I get it!
So don’t have the expectation that your child should keep their room spotless every day. It also helps if their room has good organizational furniture to help them keep it clean and organized.
How to get your child to clean their room?
As I mentioned above, start young.
Then have a reward and punishment system to keep your child focused and motivated. Certain tasks, like a basic cleaning of the room, should just be expected.
Other tasks, which will change as they get older, are worth paying them for as an allowance.
The older the child, the more responsibility they should have around the house. By that, I mean NOT paying them for basic things. But doing their own laundry from start to finish, which is one of the things we pay our tween girls to do, is a great thing to pay an allowance for.
My wife and I have had a laminated chore chart for years for our older 2 daughters.
We finally got around to updating it this year since they were 5 and 6 when we made the original ones and now they are almost teenagers.
But to get your child to clean their room, have a routine and weekly expectation.
When our girls were younger, probably up until at least age 7, we helped them clean their room. Kids can get easily distracted, especially when surrounded by their own toys and games. So being in the room with them helps to:
- Keep them focused and less distracted
- Gives you an opportunity to suggest ways of doing things to improve efficiency
- Shows them that you’re willing to work also
As they get older, you will naturally do less and less.
As of this writing, my older 2 daughters are 11 and 12 1/2. All we really do now is inspect the room. Being at the age they’re at, inspecting definitely includes look under beds, behind furniture, etc.
If you think that they can’t find creative ways to stash mess rather than clean it up, think again!
Can a mid sleeper bed help organize your child’s room?
A mid sleeper bed is like a bunk bed. But instead of a 2nd bed down below, there is usually a desk area and/or storage space.
When you have just 1 child in one bedroom, and especially if that bedroom is on the smaller size, a mid sleeper bed is a great solution for storing things, using the space creatively and helping to keep your child’s room organized.
For a great example of what I’m talking about have a look at mid sleeper beds here.
My middle daughter even had a mid sleeper bed with a slide from age 4 to age 8; talk about fun! That bed also had curtains down below which created a fort-like space where she could hide, play with friends, or just relax.
The other nice thing about mid sleeper beds is that since they don’t have to have a mattress down below off the ground, they are typically not as tall as traditional bunk beds. So that works great if your little one might not be 100% comfortable climbing up to a really tall bunk.
But a few well-placed cubbies, storage units, or toy boxes underneath the mid sleeper bed is a great way to help your child stay organized when they do clean their room.
Did I cover everything you wanted to know about what age should a child clean their room?
In this article, we explored the world of kids, allowance, chores, and what is age-appropriate.
We looked at some tips to help keep their rooms organized and how to get them motivated to actually clean it. Let’s face it. Some tasks around the house should just be expected once kids reach a certain age. Others are worth paying them for in the form of an allowance.
But ultimately in this post, we focused on what age should a child clean their room.
Does your child keep their room clean?