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Candle in the Night

Monday, September 23, 2013

5 Ways to Make Chores EXCITING!

Preschoolers and a clean house.  They go together about as well as fire and ice.  I often feel like I'm trying to fill a china cabinet during an earthquake.  To tell the truth, it gets a bit frustrating.  And if you have toddlers or have ever had toddlers, you know how I feel.

But your little ones don't always have to work against you.  Most of the time, they probably still will be, but if you have them helping you move in the right direction some of the time, it really helps.

I've seen the normal lists of child appropriate chores, but let's be honest...they're bo-ring.  So how do you make them fun?  You get creative!!  Here are 5 ideas we use around our house to get the girls excited about helping.

1.  Timers and treats!  Picture this...the living room floor is COVERED with stuff.  Girl stuff, Mommy stuff, Daddy stuff.  Looking at it, you'd estimate it'll take you a good 30 minutes just to pick it all up.  But with help, you could have success in 10.  Except for the fact that the girls move like ssssssnnnnnnaaaaaaiiiiiiillllllllllsssss...  At this rate, it would be faster to get them OUT of the way and do it yourself.  So here's what we do when a clean up time isn't working out so well.

"Okay girls, Mommy is setting a timer.  Whoever works HARD and FAST until the timer goes off gets a treat!!"  
Countdown Timer
Photo Credit
The key is to keep the time short.  Five minutes or less.  If it takes 10 minutes, they end up with two "celebration" times of high fives all around and treats for everyone who has worked hard.  If it takes 20 minutes, they have four "celebrations".  If you keep a young child working too long without any kind of reward, they won't keep working hard.  The other key is to not reward poor work.  If one child works hard and the other doesn't, only one gets the treat.  The other child will likely work harder the next time.  (We use yogurt covered raisins for treats.  Simple, small, and not terribly unhealthy.)

2.  Use the whitewash fence strategy.  Remember the story from Tom Sawyer about how Tom wouldn't let the other boys paint the fence unless they paid him to do it?  Well, no, I don't make my girls pay me to do things.  But I DO make them think that what I'm doing is SUPER fun!  H. loves to vacuum.  M. does too...with her own little popcorn vacuum.  But why does she love to vacuum?  Because I make it look so fun!  I chase them with the vacuum.  I sing and dance while I vacuum.  And I don't let them have a vacuum of "their own" until they're old enough.  No, this doesn't work with everything because frankly, I can't look happy while doing dishes.  I've tried.  I can't do it.

3.  Make it special.  H. loves playing in the water.  So...she's in charge of plant watering.  You can see from the picture in this post that it's been neglected, but if I remind her, it's a chore she loves doing because she gets to fill a little cup with water, carry it around the house, and dump it on the plants.  What could be more fun??  How about climbing on chairs?  Oh yeah.  She gets to do that too for the plants out of reach!  These are things she isn't normally "allowed" to do.  Playing in the sink and climbing on chairs are no-no's, but they're both allowed for this chore.

Another thing she LOVES doing is spraying from a spray bottle.  So...I give her a spray bottle full of water and a rag and let her spray things and wipe them off.  Fun, fun, fun!  And she's cleaning my house!  Plus, there's the added benefit that if she's walking around with a rag and spray bottle, she's not pulling books off the shelf, toys out of the drawer, or clothes out of the closet.

Spray Bottle
Photo Credit
4.  Work together!  Working with someone is so much more fun than working alone.  If I ask H. and M. to pick up their room, it'll NEVER get done.  But if I go in with a pile of laundry to fold and help direct them while I'm also working, it'll get done fairly quickly.  Staying with your little one as they work is pretty much a necessity at this age, but if you're also working, you get twice as much done!

5.  Let them know they're needed.  A friend of mine told me that her mom was shocked at how much she was able to get done with her small children around.  She responded by telling her mom that she needed them.  She couldn't do all she did without their help.
A Family Working Together
Photo Credit
I love this photo.  It reminds me that in most cultures, children are relied upon to be productive members of them family at an early age.  Why is it in America, we seem to feel that our children are entitled to lives free of work?  Perhaps that is why our society is such a mess.  Children need to feel that they are a blessing, not a burden.  
If your children aren't helping, it's time to make the switch.  Our children shouldn't just be taking all the time...that doesn't teach them to be a responsible family member.  I'm not talking child labor or slavery or anything, just having them be a part of the family.  Cleaning up after themselves and helping with the daily chores.  And then, let your children know that you need them.  It makes them feel appreciated and they'll want to help more if you share with them that you can't keep up on your own.  That you need them as part of your team.  Because that's what being a family is all about!

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At September 25, 2013 at 11:30 PM , Blogger Diane said...

DISHES!! H. LOVED to do dishes for me (as you did...)
Stand her on a chair with a sink full of plastic dishes and she'll wash forever!
(I don' know if M. could reach still ;)

At September 26, 2013 at 8:21 AM , Blogger About Jessica said...

Yes, she getting them clean?? ;)

At October 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some great tips here -my little one is just 8 months old, but soon enough I'll be having him tag along and helping! :)

Nicole @ WKH


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