It took me YEARS to figure out how to get my children to do their fair share around the house. It was a tiresome process, and is still a work-in-progress, but it is important to me that my kids understand that as members of the family they have a responsibility to contribute to the smooth running of the household.
In an effort to keep myself sane and the dream of a quiet retirement visiting my children in their own, clean homes alive, I have tried a lot of different parenting tricks to make chores less of a “chore” for my kids. In fact, some of these strategies are considered FUN by my kids. Here are the things that have worked for us to make chore time fun.
- Set A Timer – For some reason, when I send my kids upstairs to clean their rooms, the task ends up taking hours. They make much faster progress if I set a time limit (typically 10-15 minutes). In addition to cleaning rooms, we’ve had success with the timer method when weeding, decluttering, and wiping down walls or cabinet doors.
- Turn On Music – We all know how important music can be in establishing the right mood for an event. Perk up your little workers with some fun, upbeat music. Even if it doesn’t work, at least you won’t be able to hear their whining over the music.
- Sock Match – My least favorite chore is matching up socks since there are usually dozens of them and they rarely come through the laundry cycle in pairs (apparently my children put one shoe in their hamper and then hide the other one under their bed). Since kids love playing matching games this is one chore you can hand off to them and act like you are doing THEM the favor by providing a fun activity for them.
- Set Up A Junk Jail – My house is not the land of a million chances to get things right. After the kids have assured me they have finished cleaning their rooms and picking up all of their toys and belongings around the house, I do a sweep of the house to find any missed items. If I find something that didn’t get picked up, it goes into “junk jail.” In order to get the item back, the offender must perform an EXTRA chore.
- Pair Up – Some things are just more fun when you have company and chores is one of those things. If your kids spend more time squabbling with one another than working together when paired up, you can have each child pair up with a parent. We use this strategy a lot. My middle son and daughter pair up to unload the dishwasher. My daughter puts away all of the dishes that go in upper cabinets and her younger brother puts away everything that goes in drawers or lower cabinets.
- Buy Fun Tools – I don’t know why, but my kids don’t complain about the chores that involve using a “fun” tool.
- Carpet Cleaning Powder – For some reason, vacuuming all of a sudden becomes fun if I sprinkle some carpet cleaner on our rugs. They love vacuuming up the powder and I believe they do a more thorough job since it usually takes several swipes over each spot to pick up all the powder.
- Swiffer Dusters – My kids are fascinated by these “magical” wands that mysteriously whisk away dust.
- Swiffer Broom/Mop – My teenage daughter actually started volunteering to sweep when we bought a Swiffer SweeperVac. And all of my children fight over who gets to use the Wet Jet. Unfortunately, I haven’t convinced any of them that the Clorox Toilet Wands are fun and magical.
- Wipes – This is another tool whose appeal to my children I don’t understand, but I don’t care because they get my kids to clean! Arm my kids with multipurpose wipes, furniture wipes, glass cleaning wipes, and electronics wipes and my house is sparkling in no time. Warning: This can be a pricey way to get things done unless you control the number of wipes used. Also, homemade wipes do NOT have the same appeal (unless you sneak them into recycled wipe containers).
- Make A Chore Jar – I’ve seen a cute one on Pinterest that uses popsicle sticks. You write one chore on each popsicle stick. Each day or week, your kids draw sticks at random. We haven’t used this system in our own family for regular chores. Instead, we have a Consequence Jar that has chores written on scraps of paper. The kids have to draw a random slip of paper whenever they violate one of the house rules.
- Use Chore Charts – There are tons of options for chore charts. We have used dry erase board charts, chore list paper pads, laminated chore lists, and a chore binder. We’ve recently started using My Job Chart because it’s a fun, free way for us to keep track of chores and rewards. To read more about it, click here. It doesn’t matter what system you use, as long as it works for you and your family.
These are the things that work for us, some more than others. Hopefully some of them will for your family too.