Tag: family chores

Can Chores Ever Be Fun?

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!


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Touchpoints For Summer PRESENCE

As much as we love summer and our kids both can challenge our patience and our energy. The upcoming book – Becoming a Present Parent: Maximizing Presence in Five Minutes or Less teaches you how to use touchpoints to connect with your kids. Let me share one touchpoint that will really sweeten the summer pie!

Maggie doing her family work.

TOUCHPOINT 4 – Chores and Family Work

Thinking about the word WORK can make a parent groan inside because work is often a point of contention in a family. But work can be a place where we create a touchpoint rather than a point of contention if building relationships is our ultimate goal.


Often we get so involved in the management portion of family life that it’s difficult to address the relationship portion. We’ll cover this topic in depth in chapter 9. For now, know that when we’re Present things work out better.

Everyone wants support when facing a tough job. No one wants to be isolated in a mess. We sometimes forget our kids feel the same way we do.

Moms have had the experience of walking into a disaster of a kitchen after a long day. Your family’s watching TV, and here you are, in this messy kitchen. Where do you start?

How does it feel when your husband abandons his show, comes in and begins helping you pick up? And how does it feel when he also asks you how your day went? It’s amazing!

This happens to dads in garages and backyards. How does it feel when your seventeen-year-old volunteers to help get the backyard in order? How about when your thirteen-year-old offers to spend time helping you organize the garage? It feels better doesn’t it?

When a child is faced with what seems like a daunting task, check on them. Put your hand on their back or rub a shoulder and say, “Let me give you a hand.” Help them for 2-3 minutes while having a mini-conversation. Then head off to the next child or to your own work. It makes all the difference in how chores feel and in how well they get done. It solidifies relationships. It allows you to be Present with your child for a few minutes. Chores can be a touchpoint!


Family work is another time when you can create a touchpoint rather than a point of contention. When working as a family we need to keep in mind the objective isn’t just to get another item off the to-do list – we’re creating relationships and bonding our family.

I love gardening alone. I love the quiet and feeling the dirt in my fingers. But I understand it’s an opportunity for me to teach and connect with my grandchildren. Gardening can be transformed into an enduring memory for us all when I remember the garden isn’t what’s important, the relationship is.

Add fun to any work you do as a family – sing, dance as you clean, play great music, tell jokes, laugh, have mini-conversations and lots of random touches.

Things aren’t going to work out all of the time. You’ll have family work that turns into chaos or contention. We’re all imperfect, we get tired, and we have grouchy moments. It’s inevitable. But what if you could make family work more pleasant even one-quarter of the time?

If you can be Present as you work together even one-quarter of the time, your family members will feel supported and relationships will be built. You’ll experience GREAT results in the happiness level of your family.

Happy Summer,
Mary Ann