There are lots of chores around the house that children, even small children, can help with. In fact, with the right approach, you may even have children who beg you to let them clean. Talk about a parenting win! The trick is to find a way to make those mundane household chores look like fun. Heck, you may even find a way to enjoy the chores a little more was well 😉
Whenever I find myself teaching my children a new chore, or even asking them to do a learned one that they aren’t so keen on, I find myself thinking of the lovely Mary Poppins:
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and *SNAP* the job’s a game!” Words of Wisdom if I’ve ever heard them.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes and find the fun in all those boring chores on your to-do list. Not only will it keep them busy and get your house at least a little cleaner, but it is the foundation of a life skill that too many children lack.
Sound intriguing? Not sure where to start? That’s ok! I’ll get you started with some of the ways we make housework fun at my house…
Dusting – This is probably the easiest chore to get young children started. Give them a Swiffer, or even better one of these colorful static dusters, and let them go to town. Show them a super dusty spot, and how cool it is to make it clean and then send them off in search of all the flat surfaces in the house. Chances are he may even find a few places you didn’t even notice!
Windows – Washing windows is pretty easy, and it can keep kids entertained for quite a while. It’s a little tougher for children who haven’t developed the fine motor skills to squeeze the trigger on a spray bottle, but it is a great way to work on it! I find it best to use a homemade solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, 1tbsp baking soda and 8-10 drops lemon EO. Just keep an eye on younger children who may end up with a puddle on the window sill from spraying more than they wipe!
Vacuum – This one is great for older kids, as it tends to take them a bit. Some vacuums can be a bit on the heavy side (like the Kirby I HAD to have. If you have one, you know why…) but most should be manageable for your kids once they are tall enough to comfortably push it. Of course, the alternative for big and little kids alike is to invest in a handheld vacuum. These things are awesome and so much easier than hauling out the big vacuum for small messes. Once you have a machine your kid can comfortably handle, I bet it won’t take much persuading to get them to use it. Sometimes I even buy myself some time by “accidentally” sprinkling leftover cheerios or shredded paper on the floor and letting my toddler help me by cleaning it up.
Sock Matching – The most dreaded of my grown-up tasks! Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you why I am so opposed to matching socks. I could blame it on the plethora of odd colored socks my children have accumulated, but I didn’t even match socks in my pre-children era. This is why I am forever grateful that my children think me up-ending the entire sock basket on the living room floor is the best most funnest game of Memory Match ever. Sometimes they race, sometimes they work together, but they always are building real skills, including tracking, spatial and pattern awareness and, not least, the life skill of dealing with laundry!
Sweeping – What kid sees you with a broom and doesn’t immediately ask you for a turn? Something about brooms just look fun. As adults who are forced to use them, we know they really aren’t that great… but your kids haven’t figured that out yet! Kids can sweep just about anything, from actual kitchen floor crumbs to cheerios and balled up paper you throw on the floor. When they are just learning to use a broom, it is helpful to let them sweep big things, and to learn to sweep things into one big pile. A good way to teach this is to use painters tape to make a ‘target square’ on the floor. Let your kiddos practice sweeping paper balls, rice, cereal, beans or anything else into the square. Smaller children may have trouble controlling a normal sized broom, but the good news is there are many smaller brooms, especially at the dollar store or somewhere similar. Another choice might be to invest in a dustpan with a small brush so that your little one has more control. They could even buddy up! Bigger children sweep things into the square, and smaller children put it in the dustpan and deposit into the trash! Now we are having fun, working together, improving our gross motor, and learning a life skill all at the same time. Who knew?!?
10 Second Tidy – OK, so maybe we borrowed the name of this game from a TV show (Do you know which one?? Clipart freebie to the first person who tells me in the comments!). At our house, toys live upstairs. They are rarely invited down, but still have a way of appearing in my living room. For this reason, there is a basket kept at the bottom of our steps designed to collect these toys. Whoever goes upstairs should escort up a toy or two as they go. Every few days, I find that the toy presence is beginning to get out of control. Instead of picking them all up myself, like the mommy maid they would like me to be, we have a 10 second tidy. I stand in the middle of the room and draw attention to the toys that need to be picked up. Then, with a “ready, set, go!”, I begin my s-l-o-w count to 10. I say slow because we all know that no matter how speedy kids think they are, there is no way they would pick up more than one toy if I counted quickly. So I drag it out, giving encouragement and pointing out the things that are hiding. Sometimes they race each other, and sometimes they band together and race me. Either way it is fun, and gets them to clean up their own mess quickly and with little complaint.
Alright. There is a decent list to get you started! Now go check out your To Do list and find a way to get your kids engaged and busy!