If I tell people that I don’t make my children clean their rooms, they often look at me like I’m a little nuts.
And I will be the first to admit that no spot in our home is perfect. (We have as many random socks, toppling book stacks and art explosions as the next family.)
But we don’t live in messy filth, either. Instead, my strategy is to work with my kids to keep their rooms safe, warm, functional and inviting, without the power struggles that can often come with mandates and yelling.
I’m about to reveal two of my tricks at the end of this post: fairy dust and sweet dreams spray. But those come at the end.
First, we start with a quest for peace, a little compromise and some mama patience.
Clean bedrooms don’t always happen quickly in our home. They often begin in the morning, usually on a Monday since Tuesday is our homeschool co-op and tends to be the busiest day of our week.
“Guys, we really need to get laundry going!” I’ll mention after breakfast, and two eager kids will cart their baskets downstairs, where they will decide who gets to go first. (This is Step 1, but you probably realized that!)
Next, we’ll do some morning work, but before lunch, I’ll send everyone on a mission:
“We need to track down library books,” I’ll say.
As homeschoolers, we often have a ridiculous number of items checked out from the library. This is our time to sort, stack, and send ‘em back.
“Everything that needs to be returned put on the piano bench,” I’ll advise. “Anything else, find a home on your shelves, okay?” (This might be Step 2. Shhh.)
By the time lunch is done, we can change over laundry, so it seems like a good time to strip beds. This is an excellent way to displace stuffed friends.
“We’d better get everyone organized,” I’ll say, and two kids will do their best to find good spots for probably too many animals and dolls, but specified baskets sure are helpful here. Basket and bins are generally useful in our home:
“Let’s make sure same items get put away together,” I’ll suggest.
This can mean tiny fairies, origami projects, blocks, or any favorite toy of the moment that includes multiple pieces or accessories. (Step 3.)
Speaking of baskets, my children don’t have trash containers in their rooms. But they certainly have trash by the end of a busy week – usually just paper scraps, but sometime yarn ends and other craft detritus.
All of that has to be picked up before we can sprinkle Fairy Dust on the floors, right?
And anything that hasn’t yet fallen into one of the above categories: clothes, books, stuffed friends, toys or garbage, might be a trinket.
Oh trinkets. They are the bane of my existence, and probably the items that push my mama patience the most. But keeping one jar full on the dresser seems like a good compromise, right? (Steps 4 and 5).
By then it’s the time for everyone’s favorite step: sprinkling Fairy Dust, and making beds.
(There is something about a freshly made bed that makes a room feel really welcoming, right? We keep two sets of sheets per child for this very reason – so a set is always ready, whether we remember to change out the laundry quickly or not.)
Once beds are made, they can be sprayed with Sweet Dreams Spray, a very magical concoction proven to bring a peaceful slumber, and to help brave children to sleep the night away.
Because hopefully that is one more power struggle we can avoid!
1 cup baking soda
a sprinkle of dried lavender OR
15 drops of relaxing essential oils like lavender, chamomile or citrus oils
:: Mix together in a jar. Let children sprinkle on the floor before you vacuum.
Sweet Dreams Spray
4 oz water
30 drops soothing essential oils like lavender and ylang ylang or chamomile
:: Mix ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray on linens before tucking in for the night.
Final thoughts: In our home, we have found that cleaning any room, but especially kids’ rooms, is way easier when there is less stuff. Simplicity Parenting has some wonderful advice on this topic, and we do all join in a “big” room clean-up every three months or so. It makes the weekly strategy detailed above go much more smoothly!
*Mountain Rose Herbs and Frontier Natural Products Coop are wonderful places to buy bulk herbs, essential oils and supplies. Lavender is also very easy to grow in a pot or in the back yard and can be dried and used in Fairy Dust.
Kara S. Anderson is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom, driven by an unknown force to write everything down. She takes too many pictures, and never leaves home without a notebook. Read more about her days with her two amazing kiddos at Quill and Camera.