We just said it. The dreaded word… CHORE!!! YIKES.
Getting kids to do chores can be a chore in itself!! Why are kids so sneaky when it comes to chore time? It’s like that sweet, honest child you raised all of the sudden turns into a conniving little escape artist who vanishes out of sight OR they turn in to flat out LIARS!
MOM: “Did you put away your clothes?”
CHILD: “Yep!” (runs outside to play)…
Mom heads upstairs only to find laundry is wadded (no longer folded) in the closet! (this could be substituted for under the bed, on the stairs, in the playroom…you get the picture).
LIAR!! Big time. That kid just lied straight to my face and they should be punished to the full extent of the law…I didn’t raise them that way….WHAT DID I DO WRONG???! Parent FAIL.
***VERY IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE*** If you need some immediate alone time in the future, just tell your kids it’s time to do some chores and they will somehow vanish, almost like magic! (us parents have to stick together and use their sneaky ways to our advantage) 🙂
These “teachable moments” can happen more frequently than we’d like, but they leave opportunities for growth; on both sides. While we aren’t child experts, we do have a few tricks up our sleeves that help our kids stay motivated when it’s time to get some work done. Our children aren’t perfect. We’re not perfect. But we try our best to teach our children what’s important in life and working hard is definitely at the top of the list. Here are some things things that help keep them motivated and engaged which ultimately makes “chore time” more efficient and effective:
Give them a new chore: who likes to do the same thing over and over? BORING! Change it up and see what happens. Our kids almost always get excited to be asked to do something new. And the newness doesn’t seem to wear off too quickly, so hopefully you can get them to do the job a number of times before you need to come up with a new chore for them.
Let them use a fun cleaning item: upright dustpan, hand-held vacuum, toilet bowl wand, duster. A cool new cleaning toy? Awesome! Our kids also really like to clean with disposable wipes, so sometimes we’ll get a canister out and have them wipe down walls, cupboards, windowsills, etc.
Make it a game: who can get it done the fastest, set a timer and they’re off to the races! Or have each child count as they pick up items and see who gets the most. There are so many ways you can make cleaning into a game.
Gunny bag: This is something that Angie’s parents did when she was little. You have a bag (a pillowcase) called the gunny bag and you teach your kids the gunny bag song. When it’s time to clean up, you give your kids a time limit (and you can play the song). When time runs out anything that is left on the floor gets “eaten” by gunny bag. Gunny bag will then get to keep the items for a given number of days before they can be earned back. This kind of feels like another chore game and also typically motivates kids, especially those kids that are really attached to their toys and hate having them taken away.
Turn on some music! Our kids LOVE music (yours probably do too!). Just having music on doesn’t make much of anything seem like a chore, especially if they’re laughing at mom’s silly dance moves…(they’re actually COOL dance moves, they just don’t know it yet). Let them take turns playing DJ for a song for some added pep in their step, they love it! Our kids love the Bose mini speaker we keep in the kitchen, a very good place to do chores too (strategic planning right there!).
Use a checklist or chore chart: Children are very visual. Just being able to “see” they completed a task and can put a star on a chart can prove to be very motivating! You can even have a system where they work towards something. There are lots of great ideas out there for chore charts that you can either make or purchase, but remember it doesn’t have to be fancy. Even when we just give our kids a simple hand-written list, they think it’s pretty fun to mark off each chore and see their progress.
Clean sweep: Most nights before bed we try to do what we call a clean sweep. This is where we take ten minutes and everyone pitches in to get as much picked up as possible in those ten minutes. The kids know what it is and they know what to expect and what to do. So when we say, okay, let’s do a clean sweep, they often just get started without asking questions or complaining. It’s just part of the normal routine. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it definitely helps.
Give them one or two chores at a time; don’t overwhelm them. As moms, our brains can be going 100 miles per minute. Keeping it simple can be much more effective than overloading/overwhelming children with too many chores at once; even for older kids. When you ask a child to “clean their bedroom”, it might seem nearly impossible in their eyes. But if you ask them to pick up the blocks, and then once that is done ask them to pick up the cars, and so on, it makes the job much more doable.
Work with them, teach and show. Our kids like to be around us! If we are doing something, they want to be a part of it. What a great way to bond and teach at the same time. We have found that this is especially important for younger children. When we say, you clean up the blocks and I’ll clean up the cars, your child sees you more as a teammate rather than an opponent.
Be sure the chores you assign are age-appropriate. We shouldn’t expect a 4-year-old to do the same chores as a 10-year-old. When you have more than one child sometimes you naturally just expect the younger child to do the same things as the older child, often without even realizing it. So take into account the ages of your children and what you feel is most appropriate for each one. And it doesn’t hurt to do a test run to see if they are ready to learn a chore that might be a bit more challenging.
Earn rewards: This can be whatever you want! Be creative and have fun with it. Maybe you decide your kids will earn a small treat each time they help. Or they might earn stickers that will over time add up to something bigger, like a movie night with Mom and Dad. You might even include your child in deciding what kind of reward they could earn and how they will earn it. Kids often love being involved in the decision-making process, and they like having some control.
Positive reinforcement, let them be the example for younger siblings. Giving children responsibility and leadership often brings out their best side. Teach them the values of hard work, cleanliness, organizational skills, and taking care of their possessions. If we teach our children these important qualities when they’re young and as they grow, they will likely be more confident and successful adults.
Overall…make it FUN!! Whatever your child needs, cater to them! Let them feel in charge, and they just might surprise you with how well they “LIKE” doing chores. We realize some days are good, others can be rough. Stick with it! Attention spans can vary from day to day. A great day might be followed up with an CRAZY one. Keep truckin’ along….it happens. We hope some of these tips were helpful and made you smile along the way. 🙂 Good Luck!! You’re going to need it…
We want to hear your tips too, so comment away!!