Spring is here and one of the things that we may want our family to buy into is ‘Spring Cleaning’. That begs the question, can cleaning ever be fun?
I love the principle “Make it Special” because it adds more joy to the ordinary and mundane things in life. It works at bedtime, family night, family dates, vacations, bath time, having a meaningful conversation with a spouse, in many ways. If you want your family to buy into a system, activity or even chores, then make it special. When something is special, meaning it doesn’t happen every day, or when the everyday is managed in an extraordinary way, people want to be involved.
When our family members ‘buy-in’ to an activity or family project they feel ownership and they tend to give more of themselves to it. As a parent, when it comes to getting kids to help with chores, that can be very valuable.
Let’s face it, most of life is mundane. So if we can add some fun and build some enthusiasm, then it’s a win-win. Our kids have fun, and we get a bit more of what we want, in this case, chores done.
Six Ways to Make Chores Seem Like Family FUN!
1. Plan to have snacks and drinks on hand. Play some up-tempo music to keep everyone’s energy level up. Let everyone in on the fun. Preschoolers enjoy helping with cleanup and can easily dust lampshades, books, and tabletops, or line up CDs. Let an older child help a younger child for more difficult tasks.
2. What about those messy dresser drawers? Give children badges marked Clothes Drawer Inspector. Have the children sort all the clothes looking for anything too small, out of season or in poor shape or torn. Have ice cream on the way to donate anything you aren’t keeping. (You will see this ice cream reward being used more than once. I LOVE ice cream)
3. Do your bookshelves need a good dusting? Give everyone a shelf and a time limit. Now race to see who can remove the books, dust the shelves and put the books back on the shelf within the time limit. Whoever makes it gets a cool summer activity page. (I did this game with my grandchildren. I had a pile of about 60 activity sheets of all kinds printed free from the internet. They loved it and couldn’t wait to choose one. We did a number of jobs with the timer, and they got a page after each job. They kept them in a colored file until we were done working and then they were free to work on their sheets. Can you imagine that on a non-school day a worksheet can be used as a reward!!)
4. Make a “to-do” list that’s clever and inspiring. Try a tongue-in-cheek menu of spring-cleaning tasks, and let your child decide which jobs to tackle by ordering from it. Put the list on your refrigerator.
- For example, Surf and Turf: Clean the garage, organize sports equipment, hose off boogie boards and surfboards, inflate basketballs and beach balls, and rake the lawn.
- Hot Tamales: Clean the stovetop, dust the radiators and empty the crumbs from the toaster.
- High Tea: Banish cobwebs from the ceilings, replace burned-out light bulbs, and dust the chandeliers.
5. If there is a lot of laundry to fold, hide a prize in a sock and see who finds it. You can also do this with a room by hiding a prize in a hard to clean spot. These can be inexpensive items from the dollar store or even small amounts of money. You can also use coupons for a trip to the park, etc.
6. What about those everyday chores that each person is assigned to do? As a family, determine how much time you think it will take everyone to get their assigned chore done, 30 minutes, an hour. Now set the timer and play “Beat the Clock”. If someone finishes early, they can help someone else. They will want to do this because you have designed a reward for the family if they can “Beat the Clock”. Maybe it’s their favorite pie for dessert, maybe a trip to get ice cream, or a family movie, a walk to the park or a drive to see grandma.
You won’t do this every day or every time your family has work to do but I can guarantee that if you throw in a bit of fun every now and then your family will be more willing to participate. In fact, just the other day I was in charge of my grandchildren and decided that we ought to clean the living room. There were groans all around and then Jack said, “Grandma put on the music.” They have this fun thing down!
What do you do to make chores and family work special at your house? We would all love to know!