Making Chores a Game for Kids
One of the greatest gifts my mom ever gave me was a toilet brush. Okay, so the toilet brush wasn’t gift wrapped, and it was shared with my four siblings. But one of the most important lessons we learned was how to take care of a home. My brothers also learned basic housecleaning chores, just as my sister and I also learned how to mow the lawn. Every evening, we all helped with preparing or cleaning up dinner. On Saturdays, we drew chores written on slips of paper out of a jar to help with the housecleaning. We all worked together until the chores were finished, both indoors and out.
Giving kids responsibilities for their belongings, their space, and in the household can help bond families and teach appreciation for what they have. By teaching them chores at a young age, good habits are formed while the chore is still “fun.” Our toddler loves to help pick up her toys when singing a catchy clean-up song. She also will help me unload clean clothes from the dryer and into the basket. She will carry her dirty clothes to the laundry basket. At this age, it’s a game. As our older children grew, we added responsibilities. One important lesson I learned as I taught my children is to lower my standards while they learn. I can’t expect a six-year-old to have perfectly creased folds when helping with laundry. It takes time and practice. See this link for a guide to age-appropriate chores.
My 10-year-old daughter can now prepare her own breakfast and pack her lunch, has complete care of her room, and can make a pan of brownies or quesadillas for the family for lunch. She has been begging to learn how to do her own laundry! All of my children know that breakfast will not be served until their beds are made. You don’t leave the bathroom in our house unless towels and the bathmat are hung up and dirty clothes taken care of. And you better not leave the dinner table empty-handed. A simple chore chart on the fridge rotates us weekly through dinner chores so there are no (well, few) arguments. We also have a list of “extra” chores that they can choose to do for some extra spending money to supplement their small allowance.
Some families also clean the house, room by room, together. As a family, they all tackle the clutter, dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing. The younger ones learn by working with the older siblings and parents. In our family, we fold laundry and take care of yard work together.
My mother-in-law also taught my husband responsibility through household chores when he was young, and I am so thankful for this priceless lesson. By teaching my sons and daughters the same, I am preparing them for independence, as well as giving them a sense of belonging in our household.