How a 40-Year-Old Mother Learned to Clean Her Own Room

Clean Room

When my parents built their dream house back in the early 90s, they made the rookie mistake of putting pale pink carpet throughout their 5,000 square foot house. Now by “pale pink”, I might as well be saying “white”. At the time my mother was raising six rambunctious boys who were running in and out of the house all day long. Needless to say, that carpet was completely destroyed in record time.

So, my mother had almost every room in the house replaced with a practical brown (dirt colored) Berber. That is, every room had the carpet replaced except for mine!

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Here is where this snooty woman is going to brag about her wonderful habits of taking care of her bedroom and all her belongings within its private walls. Sadly, no. It was the exact opposite situation. My room was in such a constant mess with clothes, papers, and books strewn across it, that no one had actually ever walked on that pale pink carpet. The carpet was thoroughly protected by a thick layer of all my stuff.

You have to learn to clean at some point in your life
The carpet was protected by a thick layer of stuff.

The Real Problem

I was very busy in high school, and I HATED cleaning my room because it would literally take me all day to do it. Why? Because I would pick up the items one by one. It seemed that each item had some other task associated with it or it would remind me of something else I needed to get done. I would wander off to put it away and then I would get distracted by how unorganized the drawer was that I was putting the item into, so then I would start organizing the drawer. I would “work” for hours and have very little to show for it.

I would clean by picking up one dirty item at a time
I would pick up the items one by one

The messier my room got, the less likely I was to clean it because I knew the time commitment was ever increasing.

The problem was even though I was a “smart” person, I actually didn’t know how to clean my room other than this method of picking up one thing at a time. It was just something I was told to do, and I assumed that was how everyone else cleaned their rooms.

Every once in a while, my dear mother would rescue me. I would come home from school and she would have cleaned my room for me. I remember these instances because it would give me such a great sense of relief to not have all that overwhelming clutter.

College And Then Marriage

However, the shameful thing is that when I left to college, I still didn’t know how to clean my room. My roommates were going nuts. I would leave a trail of mess all over. Then when I got married, I still didn’t know how to organize and clean my room any faster. Thank goodness for my husband who is very talented at organizing. However, when I had children, I still didn’t have a clean room. Every once in a while, my kids would “surprise” me by cleaning my room for me. This was pathetic!

A adult learns to clean as a child
The little me grew up to be the big me, and I still didn't know how to clean my room!

Meanwhile, my husband and I were developing Moneypants. My children all cleaned their own rooms and did it consistently. One day one of my young sons walked into my room and laughed and said, “Everyone in the family knows how to clean their room except for you, Mom! You are definitely a HYPOCRITE!”

Darn it. He was right! I was nearly 40 years old, by golly. This was embarrassing.

What To Do?

Trixie taught Hannah how to clean efficiently
Trixie and her mom Hannah

So, I sat down and thought about this problem. Somehow, I had to stop getting distracted. After straining my brain, I came up with a system to clean my room faster. I would walk around the room pretending I was a robot and look for any dirty laundry. Then I would do the same thing for shoes, hair stuff, garbage, etc. With this brilliant new method, I was able to clean my room in about 45 minutes!!!

I was so proud of myself for figuring out this strategy and I soon bragged to my daughter Trixie, who was about twelve. She smiled and said, “That’s really good Mom. I have a way that is a little faster than that though. Let me teach you.”

Once again, a little embarrassing to have my kids teaching me this. Alas. However, my daughter Trixie has a knack for figuring out the most efficient ways to get her jobs done. It is a talent of hers.

Trixie's Quick Cleaning Method:

Step 1: Make your bed. Just like the Navy Seals.

When cleaning, make your bed first
Step 1: Make the bed

Step 2: Quickly grab everything out of place and throw or sweep it up into a giant pile in the middle of the room.

When cleaning, make a big pile
Step 2: Create a giant pile

Step 3: Sit down next to the giant pile and sort the pile based on where the items belonged (e.g., make a pile of garbage, a pile of dirty laundry, a pile of hair stuff and makeup, a pile of school stuff, a pile of things that don’t belong in your room, etc.)

When cleaning, separate big pile into smaller piles
Step 3: Sort the giant pile into smaller piles

Step 4: Scoop up the piles and deliver them to where they belong.

When cleaning, distribute piles to where they go
Step 4: Deliver smaller piles to where they belong

Step 5: Sweep and vacuum.

Clean the room by vacuuming
Step 5: Sweep and vacuum

Mind Blown

This blew my mind. I could now clean my room in 10 minutes. For the first time in my life, I could clean my own room and do it quickly.

You may be rolling your eyes, or maybe you can relate. However, you may have a spouse, teen, or child who has the same problem I did. No one had ever taught me a way to go about cleaning my room, and I never figured out a good system on my own because it never occurred to me that maybe I was doing it wrong.

You can clean a messy bedroom in just 10 minutes.

If you or someone in your family is having trouble cleaning their room and seems to have issues getting distracted, try Trixie’s system for cleaning the room. Set a timer and see if you can clean a messy bedroom in just 10 minutes.

It really works.

Other ideas for teaching kids to clean their own rooms can be found here:

Decluttering the Home
Group Projects Are A Fraud
Zone Defense vs. Man-To-Man


So what about you? Do you struggle with keeping your room clean? Have you figured it out, and if so, when? How? Or have you always been a neat freak? Leave a comment below.

Listen To The Podcast

Hannah Judd

Hannah Judd

Hannah is the co-creator of Moneypants and is the mother of 15 amazing kids.

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