Chores can be creative and with a little imagination they can even be fun! Attitude is everything; with a few ground rules in place and some creative cleaning ideas, you can turn battles over chores into an enjoyable experience.
The Ground Rules:
A place for everything and everything in it’s place –
Being organized and having a designated place for clothing, toys, and each family member’s personal items makes tidying up fast and easy. It also saves you time when you are looking for specific items. Turn organizing into a family project. Get creative and repurpose items around your house into fun and functional storage containers. This can also offer a great lesson in recycling!
One Project/activity at a time –
Getting the entire family into the habit of working on one project at a time, and cleaning up before moving onto the next project makes cleaning up a breeze. It is a valuable skill that will serve your children well throughout their entire lives. Clutter multiplies rapidly and spending a few minutes cleaning after each project will save hours of cleaning up later.
An Attitude of Gratitude –
Children are growing up in a world that encourages the idea of entitlement. When you can show your child how lucky they are, your child will soon realize that having to do the dishes means you have food to eat when most of the world doesn’t. Making your bed is a small thing when it means that you have a safe and warm place to sleep. You can encourage gratitude buy visiting or volunteering at a soup kitchen or family shelter. You could do a family study on the daily life of Homesteaders such as “Little House On the Prairie” or you could learn about what homes in other countries look like. Encourage an attitude of gratitude in all areas of your child’s life. You may be surprised at the positive results.
Being a Member of the Family –
Whether or not you choose to give your child an allowance, and if it is tied to chores or not, children should help out because they are part of a family. It teaches children responsibility and empowers them as they become contributors to the family’s success. Make sure chores are age appropriate and structured. Doing small chores throughout the week is much better then spending a concentrated length of time one day a week. Make sure you acknowledge the contribution of every family member to the household. Those who work to pay the bills, those who work at home, and those who keep the place clean and comfortable. Show your gratitude to everyone involved and teach your child to do the same!
Creative Cleaning for Young Children:
5 minute Count down –
From a very young age, children can at least start helping clean up after their activities and playtime. To avoid tantrums and tears, give your child ample warning that you are tidying up soon. Children can easily become engrossed in their play and react strongly when it is abruptly stopped. 5 minutes before you want an activity to end, tell your child the tidy-up countdown is starting, and remind them each minute. Have them count down the last ten seconds with you. An egg time with a bell works great for this.
Tidy Up Treasure Hunt –
Play this game after the 5 minute countdown. This works well with any number of children. Have a timer and set it for 1-5 minutes depending on the size of the mess that must be cleaned up. You want children to have enough time to finish cleaning but short enough that they feel the excitement of a race.
Select one piece of garbage to go into the bin, or one toy to be put away. Tell the children that they are on a “Tidy Up Treasure Hunt” and they have x number of minutes to clean up. One of the items is a disguised treasure and whoever cleans up that particular piece is the winner. Announce the piece and the winner at the end of the time. You can offer a small prize if you wish, but excitement and recognition for the winner and praise for everyone who played and tidied up is usually sufficient.
Fun Cleaning Supplies –
- Before you clean the windows, have fun drawing on them using safe, non-toxic window pens such as soap crayons.
- Use old socks and rags to create “Dust Monsters” or turn feather dusters into monsters with googly eyes on the handle and pipe cleaners wrapped around for arms. Dust monsters eat only dust and are much happier when fun, upbeat music is playing.
- Use stickers to decorate brooms, dustpans and garbage cans.
- Buy special “child size” cleaning supplies. Have your child help you pick them out.
Creative Cleaning for Older Children:
Dust ‘N’ Dance Party –
Make dusting (or vacuuming, yard cleaning etc) an event by playing your child’s favorite dance music, providing their favorite refreshments, and playing “Dust and Freeze.” Dance and dust until the music stops – the first person to freeze gets a point. Play to 10 points (or when the dusting is finished). This can be adapted to any chore.
Hidden Surprises –
A fun way to motivate older children is to occasionally leave a small gift, or clipped magazine article on their hobby, or an encouraging note in unexpected places that they will only find by doing a thorough clean. You could place surprises under or behind things that must be moved to be vacuumed or dusted. This keeps the child motivated to do a good job because they never know when or where these surprises will show up. It also allows you to see right away if they are doing a through job or just surface cleaning!
An All Natural Clean –
While it is a smart idea to use all-natural cleaners as much as possible, if you are not it is a great learning opportunity for you and your child. You can learn about cleaners, their ingredients and the effects they have on your health and the environment.
You can also create your own homemade, natural cleaners. Then you can test homemade cleaners head to head against the commercial ones. You can record the results; even take before and after pictures. This would be a wonderful science fair project for an elementary school aged child.
Respect Their Time –
This is less a creative method and more a way to keep chores as smooth as possible. When asking an older child or teenager to help with cleaning, try to inform them as soon as possible. Kids are busy people with plans of their own and forcing them to change their plans at the last minute (by springing major chores on them) will only build resentment.
Regularly schedule chores or schedule them in advance so kids and teens can plan around them. Otherwise you’re sending the message that you don’t respect their time.
Chores don’t have to be boring or become a battleground. Exercise a little creativity and your family can gain much more than a clean house!
If you are looking for a fun way to keep track of your family’s chore progress please see my post on Chore Wars.
How do you make chores fun in your house? Please post below!