Family, Kids & Relationships

Ways to make household chores fun for kids

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Be honest: When it comes to household chores, do you often just end up doing everything yourself because it seems easier and quicker than trying to get the kids to help?

When kids are little, sometimes their well-meaning “help” doesn’t really improve your productivity, and that can be frustrating for already overwhelmed parents. And even when kids are old enough to know how to do certain chores, often getting them to agree to actually do the chores can be a headache.

But maybe it’s time to think of chores in another way — as a way to bond and create joyful memories together. Think that sounds impossible? Try the following hacks and games to make household chores more fun for everyone, yourself included!

You might not have the time or energy to try these approaches every day, and that’s perfectly fine. But when you do, you won’t regret the time you spent together, or the skills — practical and social — that your kids are picking up.

Give them the right tools

Sometimes kids would be happy to help if they had the right accommodations to make the task right for their size and skill level. Check out this brilliant, easy hack for folding clothes — all you need is a piece of cardboard!

You can use this concept to come up with other “tools”: For example, to help them get excited to clean up LEGO bricks, get them a scooper/shovel and a bucket. To help them focus on sweeping the floor, tape a square in the middle of the floor as a target for the crumbs.

Play pretend

If your kids have big imaginations and love to role play, suggest a game where you play pretend while doing a household task. For example, if you have to fold and put away clothing, pretend you are coworkers at a clothing store. Give yourselves new names and identities, and chat while you work. Then another child or family member can pretend they’re shopping at the store or making deliveries for the store, and as part of the process they can put away the folded clothes.

The same strategy could work with making beds (pretend you’re hotel or White House staff), putting away toys or books (as store associates or librarians), or anything in the kitchen (as chefs or restaurant workers). You can even stick homemade name tags to your shirts to make it seem official.

Playing and using your imaginations together will contribute to bonding among kids and parents, and/or among siblings. Plus, the chore will get done without you feeling like you were actually working.

Be silly in your “request”

If kids are not listening to your requests for help, or don’t seem interested in doing chores, it’s usually because they’re busy playing or thinking about something else. One easy trick is just to act like you don’t know what you’re doing!

Kids will know you’re joking around, but they just can’t resist the opportunity to show off their skills. So if you seem to have trouble doing something, they’re usually quick to step in and show you how it’s done — which results in them feeling proud, and you getting what you wanted. It’s a win/win!

Here are some examples:

Being silly will also help you keep your frustration level down and keep your expectations of your child more developmentally appropriate.

Make up a game or competition related to their interests

It takes a bit of creativity, but with these examples, you might be inspired to come up with your own:

  • For a kid who likes board games: Make a numbered list or chart of chores that need to get done, then roll dice or spin a spinner to determine who does which task, or in what order you do them together.
  • For a kid who likes sports: Put out a basket, hamper, or box as a “goal,” and host a friendly competition to see who “scores” by throwing toys or dirty clothes into it.
  • For a kid who likes art and design: Have a contest for the most organized closet, most artful sandwich, or highest pile of folded clothes. Encourage them to make medals or prizes for all of the winners.

While these games might not always increase your efficiency, they might just help up the joy factor and team spirit in your household — which will prove to be more important in the long run!

Joanna Eng is a staff writer and digital content specialist at ParentsTogether. She lives with her wife and two kids in New York, where she loves to hike, try new foods, and check out way too many books from the library.