If you’re struggling to keep the house clean, it might be because you’re ignoring a crucial part of the cleaning crew. Surprisingly, under a third of U.S. households assign chores to the kids in the house. That’s a missed opportunity. Not only is it easier to share the workload when everyone participates, but you’ll also teach your kids valuable life and community skills. Start with the approach that chores don’t have to feel like chores. Here’s how to make each task fun, educational, and rewarding for your kids.
The Psychology of Kids’ Chores
The typical tween or teenager spends more than four hours a day on screen media — from watching videos and scrolling social media to playing games. If you want to compete with these for attention, it’s essential to recreate the level of interaction and reward that makes the online environment so engaging. Try “gamifying” your chores: breaking down each task into a series of levels that your kids have to “unlock.” Offer them a reward for achieving each task, as well as an element of surprise about which task they’ll be given. Above all, though, establish clear, non-negotiable rules about what chores each child has to do and what a completed task looks like.
1. Make Washing up Fun
Loading and unloading the dishwasher is one chore (or two separate chores) you can assign to your kids, but washing up encourages autonomy. Besides, what could be more fun than a bowl of warm, soapy water to work with? Enhance the sense of ownership by giving each child their own “tools” to work with, such as personal washing-up brushes or first pick from a set of colorful dishcloths. Record the number of plates washed or the fastest washing-up time on a leader board or wall chart.
2. Sweeping and Vacuuming in Style
Particularly if you’ve got family pets at home, a regular vacuuming and sweeping regime is vital. This chore shouldn’t need much persuasion. A bright, colorful brush sweeper will make light work of a daily sweep. For tougher jobs, make it easier for your kids to maneuver with a lightweight cordless vacuum cleaner or a sleek corded vacuum cleaner for tackling dust, fur, and other dirt. If you encounter resistance from your junior cleaning crew, commission them to shoot a video infomercial while they work that will unleash their creative talents. The whole family can watch it later.
3. Preparing the Table
Involve your kids in all aspects of preparing family meals by giving them the responsibility for setting and clearing the table. Let them establish their own system for where you store your placemats and which colorful coaster belongs to each family member. Give a task a piece of equipment associated with it and you enhance its value. In this case, provide each child with their own plastic caddy for the tools they use to clear and wipe down the table.
4. How to Clean a Room
Turn tidying a room into a competition, with extra points for speed and attention to detail. Assign a set time limit for the task, and then let the whole family judge each “exhibition” room by room. The highest score wins a snack or some extra screen time. Help your kids clear through the mess with storage containers for desktop sundries to stash toys, jewelry, and cosmetics. Stackable storage containers for clothes will save space, as will a shoe organizer that hangs on the back of a door.
5. Get Help with Laundry
In any family, laundry is an ongoing chore that rarely takes a break. While loading up or setting the washing machine might not be a job for the little people, they can certainly get on board when it comes to the rest. Help your kids collect all the clothes in the house with some mesh laundry bags or a sturdy linen hamper. If you don’t use a dryer, when you’re ready to hang damp clothes out to dry or unwrinkle, colorful clothes pegs will grab their attention and secure you an extra pair of hands or two as help.
Try these five simple approaches and you can transform not only the tidiness of your family home, but also its dynamic and ambiance. By encouraging your kids to take ownership of the “To Do” list, you’re fostering their sense of community and setting them up for success in the future.
Get your kids involved with these house items:
- Washing-up brushes
- Colorful dishcloths
- Leader board or wall chart
- Brush sweeper
- Lightweight cordless vacuum cleaner
- Corded vacuum cleaner
- Colorful coasters
- Plastic caddy
- Storage containers for desktop sundries
- Stackable storage containers
- Shoe organizer
- Mesh laundry bags
- Sturdy linen hamper
- Colorful clothes pegs
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