Next to awesome feeling of crunching on stale Cheerios when you walk across the kitchen floor late at night, or stepping on the edge of a piece of Lego, is the horrible visual of a kid's room in chaos. Somehow most moms can recover from an unsightly desk and over-stuffed drawers and stuff on the bed. But stuff all over the floor seems to make us feel like we are on a new level of Dante's Hell. Why is that brand new sweater now a rug? Why is there a maze of toys two inches thick? Didn't we already tell them an hour ago to pick up everything off the floor?

It's a new year, requiring new methods to combat the messy little devils. Time for a little justice.

The Clean Up Courtroom 

Exhibit A

Mom walks to door of room with kid and says "You have 30 minutes to get everything off the floor and away where it goes or everything left on the floor is mine. For every number of things I find on the floor, that's as many things will be confiscated and sent to the thrift store bag."

Exhibit B

Kids need visuals; they just do. Get a bag — like a big reuseable grocery store bag — and hang it on the door of their room while they are cleaning. Set a timer for 30 minutes. Ding! Time to do a room check.

Exhibit C

Negotiation. More than likely, kids will decide to play halfway through clean up and won't finish cleaning. No matter! Stick to your word: gather up all leftover items and put it in the thrift store bag. Take the bag to the garage or somewhere right by the door of the house so they'll pass those items on the way out. Count how many items were left on the floor. Five items? Thay're additional toys/books/clothes/etc. that go in the thrift store bag.

The Deliberations

The bag is full and by the door. Tell your kids what day you plan on going to the thrift store — five days out is good. They still have a chance! They can win back items by keeping their rooms neat for X number of days. They can build extra credit by doing chores in other parts of the house. At the end of the week, take whatever is left to the thrift store (in our household, they've usually won back most items by the end of the week).

The Verdict

Being true to your word and taking in the bag means a constant reminder of the repercussions of their actions. Happy neat house in 2012.