Time to tidy up

Moms offer their advice on keeping kids’ rooms neat

Q: Kids’ bedrooms are frequently battle zones, with Mom on one side and the child amid piles of toys and dirty laundry on the other. So we asked: How do you get your children to keep their rooms tidy?


A: ‘When my children were young, I kept toys in different boxes with the days of the week written on them. The kids were only allowed to play with the toys in the box for that day and they then had to be packed away. In this way everything got used and things stayed neat. They could choose the contents of the boxes on a monthly basis.’
– Leonie Smal (mother of two, ages 19 and 22)

A: ‘We have a “cleanup session” for five minutes every afternoon. We run through the house like the wind: one child has a bag for all the papers and rubbish, the other one picks up clothes and then I clean up the rest. I play us a five-minute song at full blast, and we have to be finished when the song ends. It’s usually a lot of fun.’
– Mariska Maritz de Villiers (mother of two, ages 5 and 7)

A: ‘I leave the room untidy, even if it upsets me – they have to learn! Once they can’t walk in it or can’t find something (which happens often) it’s time for Operation Clean-up. I don’t see the point in threatening them or taking certain privileges away. What I try to do is to reward them when they do keep the room tidy.’
– Zainab Mohamed (mother of two, ages 6 and 12)

  • sue gaskin

    My husband used to collect my sons’ possessions that were left around the house and keep them in a black bin bag – it used to get quite full! When they wanted something he would sell it back to them for R2. Once Friday my son had no shoes to go out in – it cost him R4 of his allowance. This was the only thing that worked with our 4 boys!