By Lyra Pore

Getting my kids to clean their bedrooms has been a hit-and-and miss affair in our household. I’ve tried giving direct orders:  “Clean your room.”  It doesn’t work. I’ve tried praising the merits of tidiness:  “Isn’t it awesome?”  It doesn’t work. After several years of experimentation, I’ve found two things that do work.

I’ve only written the first paragraph of this blog when I had to leave the computer to get the table ready for breakfast.  I come back after a while to find this list typed into my draft:

  • Give them chocolate.
  • Pay them lots of money.
  • Give eldest daughter a unicorn.
  • Give eldest daughter books.
  • Take eldest daughter to Harry Potter theme park.
  • Give eldest daughter an iPad.

Nice try, eldest daughter, but these are the tricks that actually do the job:

TRICK NO. 1: Grab a large garbage bag and announce to the children:  “I’m going to clean your rooms. Everything I pick up on the floor will go into this bag and get chucked in the bin.”

It doesn’t matter whatever’s keeping them busy at the moment. Selena Gomez could very well be doing the most amazing thing on Wizards of Waverly Place, but they drop everything at the sight of the black garbage bag and run to their rooms as fast they can.  They know our ever-reliable garbage collector never misses his weekly run.

TRICK NO. 2:  Invite their friends to come to the house.

Two weeks ago, one of their classmates rang around 11:00 in the morning.

“Can I come over to play?”

“What time?”


“Mom, is that OK?”

“Yes. But make sure you tidy up.  You know I don’t like showing other people our mess.”

As soon as she hangs up the phone, she and her sister run around the house picking up toys and other litter.  In less than half an hour, they have the house–not just their bedrooms–looking sparkling clean.

Ha! You bet I’ve been on the phone today organizing play dates with other moms.

“Hi! I was wondering if I could invite your little girl to come play at our house this weekend.”

“Thank you! That’s wonderful. She’d love to come.”

Featured Photo Courtesy of Metro Parent