Getting my kids to pick up after themselves can be, well, a chore. Most of the time when I ask them to tidy up their toys and put them away I am met with one of two responses (or both):
“But I’m SO tired!” or “But there’s so much to clean up! I can’t do it all myself.”
I’ve grown frustrated of the long, drawn-out battle of getting my son and daughter to stop leaving playthings all over the house, so I decided it was time to officially give them daily chores that they must do. This chore chart is basically for them to clean up their toys every day of the week, but I threw in a couple of other tasks and as they get older I plan on adding more duties to the list.
This isn’t just about me being tired of tripping over their stuff or cleaning up after my kids. It was becoming quite clear they take for granted that these chores are done for them. My main goal here is to teach my son and daughter about responsibility and to value their belongings.
However, simply making up a daily chore chart for my children didn’t suddenly change the way they react when asked to tidy up. I’m still met with those same responses; that will take some time to change. What I can alter is the tactic in which I convince them to do their chores.
Let’s face it, even most grown-ups don’t enjoy doing housework. It’s tedious and we’d much rather be doing something else. The reality is it needs to be done, so why not make it fun?
Since my son and daughter love to play games, I figured the best way to motivate them to do their chores is to make a game out of it. Here are four tidy up games I’ve come up with. I hope these ideas come in handy for other parents!
I Spy: This isn’t just a great game to play during long car rides. Scan the room and describe to your child the different objects that need to be picked up and put away. Although, if I need my daughter to pick up all of her stuffed animals off her bedroom floor and into her toy chest, this may not be the game to pick. There’s only so many ways to say “I spy something that is cuddly.”
Simon Says: Turn this into “Mommy/Daddy says” and let the fun of cleaning begin. “Mommy says pick up your books and put them on the shelf.” “Daddy says pick up your Lego and put them in the bin.” You see where I’m going here.
Scavenger Hunt: If your kids are like mine and tend to leave a trail of random toys all over the house, this could be a good game to play. For example, right now I would tell my son “go around the house with this basket and locate all of your toy cars,” or I’d tell my daughter “walk around the entire basement and find all of the pieces of your Minnie Mouse tea set.” If you really want to get creative you could leave clues for them along the way. For extra incentive, leave a treat at the finish point (ie: cookies at the kitchen table).
Rat Race: Turn the act of doing chores into a friendly competition. Whoever cleans their room first wins a prize. Add to the motivation by setting a timer and if they finish with time to spare there’s an extra something special.
When it comes to giving a prize or treat for doing any of these chore games, I suggest keeping it simple. Perhaps have a sticker chart and depending on the number of stickers at the end of the week or month you can give your child a little gift, like a new small toy or book, or possibly take them out for dessert. You could even consider reading an extra bedtime story or letting them watch an extra episode of their favourite TV show as a reward.
Ultimately, what I’m trying to achieve is to make chores part of my children’s routine while teaching them about responsibility. And if they have fun in the process, well, I’d call that a parenting win.