A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Your Child’s Messy Room is Your Fault


If you are struggling with what to do about your child’s messy room, the person needing a pep talk isn’t your child. It’s you.

The word “fault” implies a sense of responsibility. Kids aren’t born with an automatic sense of responsibility. It’s up to us as parents to teach it to them. Do they need to learn to take responsibility for their own messes? Absolutely! But step back for a moment and think about how that mess got there in the first place.

The Source of Kid Clutter

Kids don’t usually buy their own toys. As the grownups, we are the ones cluttering up their rooms from the day they are born.

We often don’t set very good examples for our children either. Our closets, kitchens, and garages are filled to the max so where will our kids learn that clutter is a bad thing?

If we want something, we buy it. For years my kids thought the magic plastic cards we had in our wallets had an endless supply of money tied to them. If we don’t teach our kids about spending limits, how will they learn to avoid their own debts?

When it comes down to it, it’s our responsibility to put limits on our children.

The Day Mama Bear Cleaned Out the Den

Our internet was out this past week (did ya miss me?) and despite the initial frustration, it prompted me to examine some areas of my life that I had put on ignore. One of those areas was my boys’ room. They are nine and twelve and share a bedroom that also serves as our schoolroom.

Cleaning their room before school is one of their daily chores. I don’t know about you, but when my kids “clean” their room it never really feels clean. They manage to get the floor vacuumable but the clutter is still there. It’s perched on shelves, on top of dressers, and stuck between their bed and the wall. Thanks to IKEA more mess and trash is easily shoved into adorable red, blue, and white colored bins everywhere.

Last week, I had finally had it. I’ve done the nice motherly thing of cleaning out their room with them, evaluating the things they want to keep and what to give away, and organizing the entire contents of their room. That type of cleaning never lasts. That’s when it hit me…

My kids have too much stuff!

All the things I preach here on this site, somehow I had let slide with my kids:

So I attacked their room. With cardboard boxes and garbage bags in hand, I locked my kids out of their own room and didn’t emerge for several hours.

I removed roughly 80% of their stuff. A large portion was trash and a couple boxes where put up in the attic for a time when they can take better care of their possessions.

Did they like me cleaning out their room? Not really.

Did they interrogate me about what I threw out? Yep, they did. My reply was to challenge them to tell ME what was missing and then we’d discuss it. Of course, they couldn’t identify a single thing.

Is my method a little harsh? Maybe. But I couldn’t shake the realization that it was my fault my kids had a messy room.

By removing the majority of the stuff in my boys’ room, they have enjoyed playing more and clean up is a breeze. I feel better about not fussing about it and I’m sure they don’t miss the constant reminders about cleaning their room.

Whether you have a toddler or a teen, if their messy room is a problem then you need to take control of the situation.

What are your thoughts? How do you handle your child’s messy room?

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Article originally published on 02/08/2012

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