How to teach children to be orderly

One of our sons just turned the ripe old age of 20, and do you know how he celebrated? He super-cleaned his room.

Yep, this is the guy who put his clothes on inside-out and backwards until he was 18. This is the guy who didn’t change his socks for weeks (can I say pewwwweee!?). This is the guy who thought that rolling clean clothes up and stuffing them under the bed was the same as putting them away.

But there he was, pulling everything out from under the bed, organizing and dusting all of his furniture; he even DECLUTTERED!

I have to say, the results were better than any of his younger sisters could have done (he has seven of these).

I was floored, I was flabbergasted, I was found passed-out on the floor!

In my mind I was searching for a reason for the change; was it something I said? Was it something I did? How did this happen?

I think it had to do with maturity.

Somehow, even though I have often given up hope on different children over the years, there comes a point when they really begin to “get” it. Somehow all of the lists, and the meetings, and the nagging trickle down from their minds into their hearts, and they begin to clean and keep things orderly because they want to.

The other day I paid a call on one of my grown daughters. Her home was so very inviting, with all sorts of tasteful decorations that she had spent hours compiling and placing just right. Her kitchen was spotless, delicious-smelling food was simmering on the stove, and the surfaces were clean and polished. This was the same child that left piles of clothes on the floor in her teen years, who didn’t think it was worth her time to learn how to clean and maintain a vacuum cleaner.

I know we get tired of walking through the house and picking up socks and toys, straightening pillows, wiping down surfaces, but our efforts are important. Somewhere in the recesses of our children’s minds pictures of orderliness are being stored, and when they begin to take responsibility for their own lives, they will naturally navigate towards the examples we have set before them.

So, don’t give up, Mom. Keep making chore lists and strategies and instructing and nagging. You are sowing seeds that will influence generations to come.




Sherry K. Hayes loves the Lord Jesus Christ, her husband, and all of their 15 children, 11 of whom are homemakers and future homemakers! She has been homeschooling for more than 25 years, has seen the โ€œgraduationโ€ of eight of her children, and continues to enjoy the remaining 7 as they live and love together at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in scenic Colorado. You can read more about her family and her children on her blog, Large Family Mothering.

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Kim F. July 14, 2014

OH.MY.GOODNESS! You have no idea how I needed to read these words this morning, but God did! Praising God for your parenting success and hopeful to see the fruit of our own in the future.
Thank you for the encouraging words!

Rach D July 14, 2014

That’s so awesome he did it on his own!! I find myself that the kids still need constant reminding ๐Ÿ™‚ Trying to work on that (myself and for the kids!)
Thanks for sharing, Rachael @

Wendy July 14, 2014

Thank you for this post! It was a good motivation and reminder for me to keep up/renew MY efforts on keeping the house clean and not get tired and lazy. Little eyes are always watching. :o)

Michelle July 14, 2014

Thank you for the encouragement!

Amy July 14, 2014

Funny, just literally MINUTES ago I was talking with a few of my kids about “how much fun it is at (our neighbor’s) house.” They continued to tell me they love it at home, but their Mom “never cleans so we get to always make a mess and she doesn’t care!! Even their kitchen is a mess, food and everything!” You hear the excitement over it, at first I thought…okay, I need to give them more room to make messes maybe? No, I do PLENTY of that. I also make them clean up afterward (unless it’s an ongoing project) and THERE’s the difference. Same parenting, different agenda’s on cleaning and keeping things orderly and organized (as much as I can!). I am no longer fooled into a messy house being more fun, and honestly and secretly….I don’t care if the kids think that’s more fun….I’ll be that way. Fine by me. I’m teaching mine to have loads of fun, but to clean up afterward that’s all. Great timing on this article! Great help as usual ๐Ÿ™‚

LeeAnn G Taylor {The Mosaic Life} July 14, 2014

Grateful for this perspective from someone who has “been there, done that” and survived to see the other side. My 5 year old daughter’s room seems to collect her many “treasures” and now I can see that maybe eventually this will turn into her having a lovely decorated home! ๐Ÿ™‚

Jacki M July 14, 2014

Steiner believed that around the age of 21, the 3 developmental stages (hands, heart, head) finally come together to create a person who can think logically, control emotions and work well. Thinking back, everything started to come into place in my mind around that age as well. Amazing! Thank you for this wonderful reminder…now I will go tidy my kitchen ๐Ÿ˜‰

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