Battle of the Bedroom

Elle and I have an ongoing battle over her bedroom.  I want it clean and it is usually messy:

I am determined not to nag her day in and day out, so I tried a few different strategies:

I tried putting marbles in a jar every time she cleaned it and when the jar was full we would do an activity of her choice which was usually Easy Bake. (Does anyone else hate Easy Bake as much as me?)  That worked for a few months.

After the marbles died out, I tried not letting her play with friends until her room was cleaned.  Many weeks, she just didn’t play with any friends.  Even missing a sleepover with cousins wasn’t motivation to clean her room.  When Friday came around she decided to clean it if something fun were going to happen.

I tried helping her clean her room multiple times– thinking maybe she just didn’t know what she was supposed to do or was just overwhelmed.  I showed her little tips along the way to help make the process faster and be easier.  She wasn’t interested.

I even ignored the messy room for days on end—choosing not to make an issue of it.  That worked for her, but not so much for me.

None of my strategies were a win-win so I decided to try another idea last week.

I cleaned up Elle’s whole room one day while she was gone–complete with fluffed pillows and tucked sheets.  Then I left her a cheesy love note on her pillow.  Something about “I love you whether your room is messy or clean; whether you are nice or mean…” (I told you it was cheesy.)

I got this warm fuzzy idea from my mom.  I remember, after months of battling over my brother’s (much messier) bedroom, she cleaned his room for him while he was at school.  She left “I love you” on his pillow. She realized a messy room wasn’t worth fighting over or worth the cost of their relationship. (On a side note, she found a bottle of vodka in his drawer while she was cleaning. Obviously,  she had much bigger battles to fight than a messy bedroom.)

I guess you gotta know each child as an individual and know when you should advance and when you should retreat.

Luckily, Elle’s room was alcohol free and she did run down the stairs and hug me when she saw her room.  She kept it clean for a few days, but we are back to messy.  But I still like to think that a little act of unexpected love made a difference– if for only a day.

(I think I might just surprise my kids next week and do one of their chores for them.)

7 thoughts on “Battle of the Bedroom”

  1. This is great. and true. gotta pick your battles and each are different with each kid.
    I heard an idea from a lds parenting class I went too a couple years ago. I’m not sure if this is too extreme for how old your daughter is haha. BUT I will share it nonetheless.
    After asking and asking forever, while he was gone, she put everything in a black garbage bag (i think she made the bed) but all the clothes (and toys in this case) got put in black bags and she took them. When he wanted them back she said he had to pay for them. He was fine for a bit but eventually needed them back so he did. And pretty sure he learned his lesson. haha

    1. Michelle,
      Thanks for sharing this idea. I am going to give Elle 1 or 2 more years to get it together and then I might just have to pull out some garbage bags! I think this strategy would work great for teenagers.

  2. Oh my gosh Tiffany, you are fabulous!!!! I think the world of you! I love the different spin you are able to put on frivolous things that seem so grand when dealing with them. I will absolutely run with this idea in my own home. Thank you!

  3. We had a fairy that came to our house sometimes and would do a special chore for us and leave us a note. Our neighbor friends were so jealous!

  4. My mom used to do little things like that for us and I still remember some of them! Thanks for the reminder to pick your battles.

  5. I had a “clean room” post this week too! I like how you identify that sometimes it takes several different tries and strategies to find something that works!

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