Tag: making chores fun

What is most worth doing must be done at home

Did you know that happiness begins at home?


In a study of thirteen to twenty-four-year-olds conducted by the Associated Press and MTV, more than 100 questions were asked of 1,280 young people. The questions were all centered on determining what made these youth happy. Can you guess the number one answer? Spending time with family! Yup, that’s right, spending time with family. (Associated Press, “Youth Happiness Study,” 2).

And even better, in the AP-MTV study, nearly three-quarters of those youth and young adults said that their relationship with their parents made them happy (Associated Press, “Youth Happiness Study”). What kids and youth want are you and a close relationship with their family! They long for that connected ‘family feeling’.

So, what goes into creating that connected family feeling that kids and youth want, that makes them happy?

1. T-I-M-E spent with those they love and trust. We can best serve our children if we practice being present with them. When kids know they are seen and heard they are more trusting and will come to us when they’re in trouble and need help. Being present takes giving minutes of your time consistently. It doesn’t have to an hour or even thirty minutes. Three minutes, a few times a day is a great place to start.

2. Learn to listen. It takes effort to clear your mind and hear another person. It’s called active listening. We aren’t looking for answers to their stuff or formulating a rebuttal. We’re just hearing to understand. Teaching and problem solving can come later.

3. Utilize bedtimes. This is true even for youth. Spending just 3 minutes sitting on our child’s bed, touching an arm, allowing them to talk if they want to is huge in creating connected relationships.

4. Work together. Yup, chores, when done right, are magically bonding. It takes a bit of work on our part and we may get a bit less done, but it says volumes to our children about their place in the home and their value in our eyes.

5. Manage technology. Being home is only connecting if we’re doing things to connect. Recently I visited a friend on a Sunday afternoon. Both Mom and Dad had been using their computers before I arrived, one in the study and one at the kitchen table. Their older son was in the family room playing a video game on the TV. Two young children were lying on their stomachs on the floor, each with an iPad. Their older daughter was in her room talking and texting on her cell phone. Now, this is a normal, ordinary family, but these Sunday afternoon activities were isolating, lonely, and de-energizing.

This wouldn’t be a problem if it happened one afternoon, but it is a problem for families if it occurs three or more days a week. We begin to lose our sense of family, the connectedness that gives a child a feeling of stability and support, a sense of belonging and safety. What if I’d found them reading together or playing soccer in the backyard or watching a movie together? Even if no one spoke a word during the movie, at least they would have been together; possibly sitting on the couch by one another, cuddled in a parent’s lap or sitting by a sibling. There would have at least been a sense that this was a family, that they liked each other and enjoyed being together.

6. Eat together. The dinner table can be a place of unification. It can give your family a sense of belonging to something that matters. During the years, when some of our children were making poor choices, the time at the dinner table held us together. If we couldn’t agree on the best way to live, we could at least eat together. It kept us face-to-face and heart-to-heart. We didn’t try to teach or reprimand during these meals. We stayed out of management and worked on the relationships. This effort didn’t stop our children from making choices we didn’t agree with, but it kept our children bonded to us until they were ready to make changes. It kept us unified as a family.

Even when mealtimes feel hectic or disorganized, they have long-term benefits for children because if parents remain calm, kids aren’t stressed by dinnertime chaos.

Anne Fishel, Ph.D., said, “Over the past 15 years researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members” (Fishel 2016).

7. Read together – From Scholastic’s Kids and Family Reading Report, we learn only 17 percent of parents of kids aged 9–11 read aloud to their children. Yet 83 percent of kids aged 6–17 say being read to is something they either loved or liked a lot (Scholastic Inc. and YouGov 2014).
What are some of the benefits of reading as a family?

  • Reading aloud allows you and your children to achieve physical closeness. You are all in the same space at the same time.
  • Gathering together as a family and reading creates a sense of security and safety—a feeling that all is right with the world
  • There’s a sense of belonging which comes from everyone being in the same room, snuggling and listening to the same story, having a shared experience. This can be especially helpful as our children begin to mature. They’re trying to figure themselves out as well as figure out where they fit in the world. This process of personal growth can bring a sense of isolation. Reading as a family is one of the ways parents can create a sense of belonging.

Spending money doesn’t build relationships. Giving your kids’ stuff doesn’t build relationships. Leagues and classes, lessons and even educating a child at home don’t necessarily build relationships. These things may help your child as they grow. They may better equip them to succeed in the world financially. There isn’t anything wrong with providing these things.

However, relationships are built when we learn to be Present with another human being, when we spend time together, listen to each other, and show that they matter to us. In the final analysis, a good relationship with trusted adults is one of the key elements of happy children and youth.

What is most worth doing must be done at home. Kids want to spend time at home with their family. They want and need that ‘family feeling’. They want to feel connected. They want to matter!

Want to know how you can make bedtime, meals, and chores work with your teens? Get more information FREE by downloading Chapter 4 of my book Becoming A Present Parent: Connecting with your Children in Five Minutes or Less. For information on many aspects of creating a more connected home buy the book on Amazon or in any good bookstore.

Your Shares Are The Best Compliment

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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