Friday, March 14, 2008

Chores can be fun!

I know I flip around here from topic to topic, but it's how my mind thinks (and how my life is!) I was just thinking about tomorrow and how I need to get the kids to really help get the house (mainly their bedrooms!) into shape.

Have you ever seen the Pippi Longstocking movie (I actually found it on YouTube if you want to click on it) where she's wearing scrub brushes on her feet and is singing "Scrubbing Day is a holiday!" as she skates across the floor (making a mess of bubbles). That's the spirit of cleaning that makes it fun for our kids. It takes awhile to get to that point sometimes. It takes some creativity. When they were little, it was as easy as singing Barney's, "Clean-up, clean up, every body everywhere. Clean-up, clean-up, every body do your share" which as much enthusiasm as I could muster up in my voice.

Over the years, I've tried all sorts of ways to help make it fun when our kids work. I've learned that variety is key. What may work one week may not work the next. Or a method may stick for years (like a daily one we're doing now).

Here is a handout I wrote up about a year ago for a Women's Conference Sharing Station (table display):

Chores can be FUN!

Really, they can! – for parents and children. Parents need to work WITH their children to teach them how to do the chores and to help motivate them. Here are some fun methods that have worked for us:

Make the job fun – if your child is helping you cook, let him/her wear a special apron to feel important. * Children love jobs that involve a spray bottle. * Play music that you all love to sing along with as you work.

Set up a simple reward system – Use a sticker chart, token jar, anything that motivates and shows their progress. Chore charts on the fridge are great reminders of what they need to do and help give order in the home.

Do what works – If your child likes variety, change the chores they do each day. If he/she likes consistency, let your child do the same chores or clean the same Zone of the house each day.

Let the smaller children pair up with the older children to work side by side.

Field Trip Fun -- Put all the chores that need to be done on bits of paper in a bowl. Tell the children they can all go . . . (to the park, swimming, for a walk, etc.) . . . together when the chores are done. Let each child draw a few chores, then get to work. This shows them how much work it takes to get the house all cleaned up and that you work before you play. * A variation for summer time is to let the children each choose a place to go to every day that week. Write down the places, then have them draw a chore or two for each day – record those too. Each morning, you’ll get up and do the chores, then go on the “field trip.” The best part is you get to come home to a clean house!

Draw names – This is our favorite cleaning activity. You write everyone’s names down 3 times (or more) and keep each family grouping separate. Put the first set in the bowl and have everyone draw a name. Set the buzzer for 15-20 minutes and have everyone disperse throughout the house to clean something for the person they drew. We try to keep it a secret, but it’s okay if a person sees what’s going on. When the buzzer rings, everyone comes back together and tells what they did for their person. It’s a time of sharing and feeling like someone did something wonderful for you. Then you put the second set of names in the bowl and repeat. If you do it 3x, it takes about an hour and you get a TON of work done and feel great for serving that person at the same time.

Make Lists – This is nice for Saturday mornings when you want to get some work done from the start of the day. Give each child a little list with their names at the top and things as simple as “Wake Up,” “Get Dressed,” and “Eat Breakfast” on it so they feel like they are succeeding and progressing from the start. Add a few bedroom chores as well as common room chores everyone can do at the same time. Cross out the chores as you go. My mom used to do this with me and my brothers when we were growing up. I loved checking things off like "Wake Up" and "Get Dressed" -- I felt like I was succeeding from the start!

Guessing Game – This is especially fun for younger children (and teaches them to clean one kind of toy or one area at a time). Ask them to clean one thing or area of their room, then come out and tell you to come look. You come in and try to guess what they just picked up or cleaned. They are so proud when you see the difference. This gives you a chance to tell them how well they did. Then you leave the room and they clean something else. You come back and guess again. This continues until the room is clean.

Make a grab bag – Using inexpensive trinkets (Dollar Store, garage sales), snacks, or even coins, fill up a little bag with surprises. Set the buzzer and have your children clean whatever they want for 10 minutes. When the buzzer rings, they get to show you what they’ve done and then you let them choose something from the grab bag. Set the buzzer again and continue. After doing this several times, they get to eat the snacks and play with what they got. We’ve done this when friends are over playing and they love doing it just as much.

Play Hide & Seek – Hide a toy in one of the rooms that the children are cleaning. Tell them if they find it while cleaning, they can go hide it in someone else’s room. The game can continue while everyone cleans.

Play outside – After chores are done, keep the house clean by encouraging your children to play outside. I tell my children that if they want to keep cleaning, they can stay in the house and do more. If they’d rather play, play outside. Sometimes they surprise me and stay in to clean. Most of the time, they’re ready to play.

Doing chores together is often an ideal time for parents and children to interact. According to researchers, "Chores that can be done with a minimum of concentration leave our minds free to focus on one another as we work together. We can talk, sing, or tell stories as we work. "

Sometimes it's easier for parents to do all the family work themselves than to nag children until they do it. Or we may give children responsibility only for their own things, such as their own rooms or toys.

But researchers have found it's wise to give children work opportunities that require them to do something for others. One study compared children who did "self-care" tasks, such as cleaning up their own rooms, with children who did "family-care" tasks, such as setting the table. The researchers found that children involved in family care tasks learned to be more concerned for others while children involved in self-care tasks only did not.

Since I didn't mention the method we currently use for daily chores, I'll tell you about it. We used to do Zones where our kids would be in charge of an area of the house and then we'd rotate. It worked okay for awhile, but there wasn't a real set time for them to do it and they weren't all that consistent. I tried having them do a morning chore before they left for school and it worked for awhile, but then a busy time would hit (Science Project time, up too late & slept in) and that would slide. We did "Everyone do 1/2 hour of work" when they got home from school before snack and that would work unless they went to a friend's house or had piano lessons or sports or something.

One night (a few years ago, actually -- they've done it well this long!) I told them we'd just have chore time right after family prayer -- the oldest 2 girls would alternate doing the dishes while the other vacuumed downstairs and our oldest son would vacuum upstairs. The younger ones were assigned to pick up toys in their rooms, and straighten up the downstairs bathroom, and put shoes away from the front & back door. This probably was actually my husband's idea because he saw me running around doing much of this late at night every night. We still need weekend chores or projects to keep our house clean and organized, but this is a wonderful thing to always wake up to a clean kitchen and nice vacuumed floor to exercise on each morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment