Will your kids do just about anything to get out of doing chores? The excuses pile up fast.
“I don’t want to,” “I’m a kid!” “I’ve got homework,” “I’m late for school/work,” “I’ll do it later.”
Those were some of my excuses growing up. Looking back, of course there were always more important things than cleaning my room, but now that I’m a homeowner…and owner of a cleaning company…I’ve realized that my mother was setting me up for a life of responsibility.
My mom was not Betty Homemaker. She was a working mom of three daughters. She wasn’t the type to have a snack ready when we came home from school, but she was the type that would not allow us to have friends come over because the house was a mess.
You wanted friends to come over, you had to clean the house. You were hungry after school, you had to make a sandwich. No clean bowls in the cabinet? Get out a sponge because “you have two hands, now get to washing.”
Sound a little harsh?
I don’t think so. She was a firm believer of teaching us how to become responsible adults. One of my favorite quotes she would say was, “that’s why they call it work and not fun.”
Well, I’ve found a way to make chores fun for the whole family.
First, develop a system. Pick a day and time. Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., everyone will help clean. That doesn’t sound fun. But, if you make a game out of it (and play some awesome background music,) your kids will be eager to participate.
On a sheet of construction paper, label 1-9 as designated areas to be cleaned in your home. For number one, start simple like “hallway” or “stairs” and work your way up to bathrooms, play areas, kitchen work, etc.
Roll dice and determine where you will start. For example, if you roll a two and a three, that’s five. If number five is the playroom, you, the kids, and a kitchen timer should head to the playroom.
Set the timer for 15 minutes and get to cleaning. The kids can start putting their toys away and throwing out trash so you can vacuum. Reward them if they were faster than the clock.
Roll the dice and keep playing until the house is clean. Obviously, the game will change depending on how old your children are and what responsibilities you feel are appropriate, but the end result should be a clean house.
Another idea is to label two jars “to-do” and “completed”. On popsicle sticks, write chores your children are capable of handling.
For example, the older children can wash clothes while the younger children can fold or put away clothes. The younger children can unload the dishwasher while the older children can wash dishes and reload the dishwasher. The younger children can pick up toys and the older children can vacuum. Whatever you feel works best.
Color-code and label the popsicle sticks placing all items that need to be completed in the “to-do” jar. (I saw one where the older girl was pink, older boy was blue and they competed to see who got the most chores finished. Each child was rewarded monetarily, but the one who completed the most tasks was given a “bonus”.) After each chore is complete, simply move the popsicle stick to the “completed” jar and reward the appropriate child.
Be encouraging. If your kids are feeling frustrated or think they cannot do a specific chore without you, help them. Do not be Miss Perfect. Of course a 10-year-old is not going to vacuum as well as you do, but don’t let them see you correcting it or they will just think they can do a half-butt job because you will fix it later anyway. Let them get the chores done, but don’t be too picky. Remember, you are trying to encourage life-long lessons here, not demean their help.
Lastly, create daily chores to give your kids the feeling of accomplishing something on a day to day basis. One child sets the table, the other child clears the table. Get them to make their bed every morning, or pick up their room before bedtime.
Most of the time, if you set a timer, make a game of it, make it fun and rewarding; they will carry these habits with them forever.