Feb 13

How To Get Your 3 Year Old To Clean Their Room


With my 6 year old, it’s pretty easy to get him to clean his room.  I just have to say, “Time to clean your room.” And then I have to listen to a bunch of whining, and pleads, and reasons why now is not a good time for him to clean his room.  Once I combat all of those, it’s pretty easy.  Then, I just have to listen to a few more minutes of “FINE!” or “but you said…” or more pleads to not clean his room.  Once I combat those with, “What did I just tell you to do?” it’s ridiculously easy.  I only have to go to his room and ask him why he didn’t really clean it, and why he put everything in the wrong spot or created a large tower of “stuff” in the closet.  Once I instruct him on where everything goes, it’s smooth sailing!

But I’ve got a 3 year old to deal with as well…

Most of the time when I ask Alistair to do, well, anything, he completely ignores me and carries on with whatever crazy 3 year old “thing” he’s doing.  Then, when I get his attention and he imitates his older brother by angrily responding, “Fine” I usually can see him walk toward what needs to be done.  Halfway there, like a dog seeing a squirrel, he becomes completely distracted and chases after his new “shiny thing.”

It’s great that you want to build the addition to our home, but I asked you to clean your room.

When it comes to cleaning his room, it’s no different.  The second he sets foot in his room to clean, he’s immediately distracted and begins playing around.  It gets really frustrating having to say over and over and over again, “Alistair, it’s time to clean your room.” But I have found the solution!  And I will share this wisdom with you now.

It was birthed out of the idea that I do not wish to clean their room for them.  I clean every other damn thing in this house, and the tornado aftermath of a room they normally have going on is not only overwhelming to me, but I get really angry at the thought of having to clean it. I shouldn’t have to! Can I get an Amen?! I also needed a solution for the constant reminding that he needs to stay focussed on cleaning.

So here’s what I do.  I first establish that he has to clean his room and I get him INTO his room.  Then I lay on his bed like a lazy king, and I instruct: “Alistair, put the legos in the lego bin and then ask me what you can do next.”  It gives him ONE thing to do.  If he needs more specifics, I say, “Alistair, go grab that lego by the dresser and put it in the lego bin.  Then ask me what you can do next.” He will do the one simple thing and then come back to me and ask his question.  Then I tell him, “Put all the dirty clothes in the laundry basket and then ask me what you can do next.”  This goes on and on until the room is clean.  I have not had to lift a finger, and I have snuck in some relaxing time in my otherwise busy Stay At Homer lifestyle.

On top of that, Alistair has gotten practice putting things away and will have no excuses when he’s 6 years old like Noble.  He will have 3 years of experience putting things away where they belong.

When Noble is with us, I make it a competition.  Whoever puts the most stuff away wins.  And, of course, Noble will always win the 6 year old category, and Alistair will win the 3 year old category.  And I will win the parenting category for getting stuff done by not doing anything!  Woo Hoo!  And then I can go back to folding that god awful laundry while they destroy another room in the house, or start doing this….

Dressing like Hannibal Lector and eating Cheerios?



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