How to Make Chores Fun for your Kids
No child ever wants to take part in doing the chores around the house, especially since chores are not called “playtime” for a reason. The mere mention of work makes young children all across the globe groan in protest and it becomes the parent’s ultimate job to get their child to enjoy doing housework, or at least get them to help with it.
While many parents might be tempted to make chores something mandatory from a young age, in order to get kids used to the concept of having to do things around the house and sort of getting accustomed to a habit of pulling their own weight in a group of people, enforcing chores on kids is rarely effective.
It’s no news that they are opposed to anything that simply lacks in the element of fun, especially at a young age, but the way chores are explained can also slow down the process of grasping the concept of what a chore represents and what they are supposed to do in order to accomplish a goal.
1. The first thing not to do when attempting to get your child to help you along is to make the chore itself sound like something mandatory.
As such, don’t order your child around to do something, try to avoid to argue with them or raise your voice and make chores seem like a sort of punishment they are receiving for no determined reason. Instead, give them the impression that they have a choice in the matter, that they can pick whether to help you out or not. Try to appeal to their altruism or overall willingness to help a parent who is asking for another hand, as it gives them a sense of purpose and makes the children feel like they are doing something out of love for you and with you.
2. Appeal to their competitive side.
Whether you have more than one child or if the housework is only divided between you and your kid, turning chores into a small competition can be a really good way to get them all excited to do their part. It’s no secret that children tend to get really competitive, especially if you also throw in a little prize to make the victory all the more delicious. It can be snacks of some sort, like cookies or ice cream, or a trip to the playground, or maybe the ability to pick which movie to watch with the whole family. In any case, it should be something that motivates them to do the chores and do them well in order to be worthy of the decided reward. Don’t forget to give them their bragging rights as well! And if they “lose” somehow, well, rewards to encourage future participation in the chore games can also be a thing. They don’t have to know that, in any case, the real winner is you for getting help with the housework.
3. Make up a scenario.
If your child is feeling too playful in order to focus on some mundane chore that you have assigned to them, why not turn their housework into a game as well? Build a scenario they can immerse themselves in and exercise their imagination with and watch them collect their scattered socks from around the room much faster now that they’re golden, ancient artifacts that need to be returned to their rightful place: the laundry basket museum!
This also works if they’re not so much interested in play pretend as much as they’re interested in performing some sort of outdoor activity, like a sport. Just pretend the laundry basket is where the clothes have to end up in order to score points!
4. Use music.
Since chores can be pretty boring as they already are, putting on some background music can improve everyone’s mood and motivation to work around the house. Time just seems to pass easier when listening to enjoyable songs, mostly because you can sing along or imagine that you’ve put in so many different scenarios that you eventually forget that you’re doing some mundane task that’s taking you some time. Besides, with music on, it feels less like working and more cheerful.
5. Set an example.
This should go without saying, if you want your child to do something you two are supposed to take care of together, or if they are supposed to do something new, then it’s your duty to set an example. Show them what to do and how to do it correctly, as well as praise their success regardless of how small or big each accomplishment is. It will encourage their willingness to learn and help around the house and they will get used to looking up to you for examples to be followed.
After you have made sure that they understand their task and that they’re doing it all fine, you should work on your part of the chore or other chores as well and show that it’s all about teamwork. Nobody sits on the sides while others work!
6. Take breaks.
Working on chores all day can get boring, exhausting and overall annoying pretty fast if it’s all just running around the house taking care of things, with no breaks whatsoever. Those 2 minutes when you stopped in front of the TV in passing to watch a news anchor talk before you returned to dusting around does not count as a break and nor does it count when your child goes to the bathroom for a few minutes. Try taking short and frequent breaks, or if your chores require better concentration on the tasks at hand, take 15-20 minute breaks every now and then to be able to rest your back and limbs and just sit down for a bit.
Supply your child with some snacks for a quick energy fix and don’t forget to keep yourselves hydrated all throughout the day, as well as make sure to change your child if they’ve overexercised while working and ended up sweating too much. The last thing you want is for them to catch a cold while you have windows or doors open to let fresh air in and such.
7. Don’t take away their playtime.
If you decide to involve the children in your housework plans, then make sure to let them know that they will still have plenty of time to play later. No child is willing to cooperate and help along with chores, regardless of how easy or short they are, if they feel like their free time is compromised, or if it means missing out on their favorite cartoon. Just tell them they can resume their play later, and that cartoons will be shown on TV again in case they miss bits of them.
So in the end, making chores fun for your kids depends on what is most likely to motivate them to do them, so don’t be afraid to try out more strategies than one as you begin to get them accustomed with the concept of doing chores!