The endless job that everyone hates: CHORES! And boy oh boy, we mommies sure do have a lot of them! So how about a little HELP around here??? Anyone? Kids?
After a huge 6th birthday bash at my house, everyone (including me) wanted to run and hide at the mere mention of “clean up.” The amount of work to be done was just incredibly overwhelming. You know that feeling of “where do I even begin???” We adults feel it, and kids do too.
I have been guilty of sending my children in to clean their own room after they have taken all of 2 seconds to destroy it while I was busy with my own chores.
Kids: “Mooooom? Can you just come help us?”
Me: “As soon as I finish _____. You guys start and I will come when I can…”
And then frustration sets in when, an hour later, I have finally finished sweeping, mopping, doing dishes, picking up the living room, doing laundry, and they have accomplished, well, destroying the room even more, the mess now spilling into the hallway.
Fortunately, today was not one of those days. Today, I woke up with the mindset that WE (this includes the kids) were going to get things done around the house. When my kids woke up, I told them that at 8:30 we were going to begin our chores.
Big Kid: “But Moooom. I want to play my new board gaaaaaame!!!”
Me: “That is a GREAT idea! That will be our reward for when we finish cleaning up! Now, at 8:30, I want to see my Happy Helpers ready to work and when we get our chores done, we can play your new game! You have one hour to eat breakfast and do whatever you want to do. Timer starts: NOW!”
Tip #1: Kids react more positively when expectations have been established and there is an end goal in mind.
In this instance, I have given my kids an opportunity to choose their own task for the next hour, knowing that when that time is up, they must then do what Mommy needs them to do. My kids know that the term “Happy Helpers” means that I do not want any complaining when it is time to do chores; a positive attitude is expected. They also have something to look forward to when chores are over, so they should work efficiently (haha that’s funny right there ;-).
Tip #2: Make a checklist. If it works for adults, it will work for kids too!
Just like Mommy and Daddy, kids also like to see which tasks have been accomplished and how many more are left. They are like little versions of us or something. And BONUS: they get to practice prioritizing, list making, fine motor skill development/handwriting (drawing check marks or lines through the chores that have been finished) and reading.
Here are some age-appropriate chores that we include on our checklist:
- Sweep the floors.
- Wipe the counters.
- Tidy the living room.
- Sort the laundry.
- Fold the laundry.
- Make the beds.
- Pick up the toys.
- Wash the windows.
- Feed the dogs.
Tip #3: Let them choose which task to do first.
As soon as 8:30 rolled around, I showed the kids the list of what needed to be accomplished. “Oh, I want to wash the windows!” “I want to wipe the counters!” I gave one the Chlorox wipes and the other the Windex and let them go to town! Letting them do their favorite chores first put them both into Happy Helper mode (which means Mommy stays in her Happy Helper mode too)!
Tip #4: Simplify the task.
Laundry: Write categories on index cards for your kids to sort the laundry into different piles. That way, the piles are smaller when it comes time to fold them.
Give your kids their own pile to then sort again into “hanging clothes,” “clothes to fold,” “underwear,” etc. and they can bring them to their rooms to put them away.
Sweeping the Floor: take painters tape and mark out a square area for them to sweep debris into. I normally don’t task my 6 and 3 year old with sweeping the entire floor, but if they have spilled, for example, dry cereal, I pull out the tape and give them a place to sweep it all into. They find this incredibly fun for some reason. Then I hold the dust pan for them while they sweep it in.
Picking up toys: Look around and what specific toys do you have a bajillion of that are scattered around the room? Legos? Blocks? Play food? For my kids, it’s cars. I tasked my 3 year old with the job of picking up all of the cars. It’s like a giant, 3D seek-and-find book! He had this giddy look on his face as he ran around the room searching for toys!
Notice how many bins I have on the shelf for other toys, but for the toys that we have the MOST of, it’s just one giant bin to throw them all into! Easier for Mommy as well!
Tip #5: Make a big chore seem smaller!
I like to take yarn or painters tape to rope off sections of the room so the boys can clean smaller areas at a time. We start in one area and get it clean, then move to the next area, then the next until eventually the whole room is clean! I mean, it’s easier for us Mommy Teachers to do that as well, right? First we will clean one room, then move to the next room, then the next. We have already mapped out our own grids in our heads, so give your kids a visual so they can learn to do the same!
One of my pet peeves is when I ask the boys to pick up a few items from the living room to bring to their bedroom and they pick up one toy at a time to carry across the house and place it just inside their doorway. I mean, at least pick up two things, one for each hand! So that leads me to:
Tip #6: Fewer trips = faster cleanup.
I recently got the “duh” idea to give my kids either bags or baskets to fill so they can bring multiple toys to their room at once. They race around the living room, fill their bags, run to their room and put the toys away (i.e. dump the toys on the floor).
Tip #6.5: Do this chore BEFORE the kids clean their rooms.
Tip #7: Let it slide!
Sure they missed a spot… sure there are streaks on the windows, but they worked hard, they got [most of] the job done, and we have way too many chores on our list for today to be picky, so just let it slide and praise them for being Happy Helpers.
Warning: There WILL BE more messes, such as the water Leyson spilled that almost made Mommy face plant on the floor. Just add it to the “to do” list (it never ends anyway).
And, sometimes when you send the 3 year old in to just clean his room, he may actually surprise you…
…until you look under the bed.
Updated 8/3/13: Tip #8: TURN UP THE MUSIC!
A little music gets everyone moving!
Please comment below with ideas and tips on how you handle chores with your kids!