How to Make Chores Fun
Most parents start off with the best plans: we will allow our children ample time to learn each little thing, and we will accept that things will go at their own pace (and we will be patient).
Unfortunately, life runs on a schedule and it’s all too easy to rush our children along, and take over the learning process out of sheer frustration. Who hasn’t dressed a child that was more than capable of dressing themselves to get out of the front door on time?
“In every job that’s to be done, there is an element of fun: and snap! – the job’s a game”. – Mary Poppins
Household chores? Where’s the fun in that? (Go and look)
As adults, we may look at our own chores and think “There’s no game I can make out of clearing up this mess of toys that will make it fun for me”. Children view the world differently. Do you remember the last time that you were learning something new on a subject you found interesting? You probably made more progress, and in less time than in any other task you did that day.
Children are interested in a huge range of things because they have so much to learn. When they are very young, they haven’t yet “learned” that certain tasks are a chore and ridiculously boring to do.
The trick is: Don’t tell them.
Getting dressed is fun
If your child has difficulty dressing in the morning, get them a box of dress up clothes. (It doesn’t have to be expensive – your local charity shop is a good place to start). This will encourage them to dress themselves.
Tidying up toys is fun
For tidying up toys (before your child can read): get some boxes, divide the toys into boxes as you please. Then stick a photo of the contents of the box to the outside of the box. This way your child will know exactly where everything goes and it becomes a sorting game. Speaking of sorting…
Sorting toys is fun
To tackle the recurring jumble of toys on the floor: hand your child two or three small baskets, and ask them to pick out two types of toys from the pile and put them into the correct basket (again a searching/sorting game). To add some fun, split the pile in half and challenge your child to clear their pile before yours (don’t be too competitive!).
Cleaning up is fun
Hunt around in your local toy stores to find a very good quality toy broom, toy dustpan and toy brush. Children from the age of 20-22 months generally start to show an interest in sweeping the floor. Actively encourage this (despite the fact that it makes more of a mess than was there before).
Encourage your child by sweeping up some dirt onto their dustpan and letting them put this in the bin themselves. Hand them a damp cloth and ask them to wipe the table. It doesn’t matter if they only manage to clean the same six square inches at the start. Include them in the household activities as much as you can. You’ll be surprised how much less frequently they will spill or drop items when they know they will be expected to clean up after themselves.
See our article on “Household chores checklists for kids” for handy overall motivational tips.