Playful Parenting: Turn Chores into a Game
“In every job that must be done there is an element of fun You find the fun and snap! The job's a game.”
Mary Poppins said it best in ‘A Spoonful of Sugar.’ Getting your child to do small chores around the house fosters more than a sense of responsibility. This learning goes a long way as they develop lifelong skills and grow in confidence.
As a parent, you’re probably wondering how to actually get your little ones to pick up their toys or help with the dishes. It’s not always an easy task. The first step is exposing them to chores at a young age - let them watch you do the laundry or feed the dog.
Start with small jobs around the house and lots of encouraging words. Aim to work together as a team. And remember, forcing your child to help, will only deter them more. If they seem like they aren’t ready, give them time and space before trying again.
One of the best ways to make chores more enticing is to turn them into a game. We’ve created free printables with games including Chore Tic-Tac-Toe, and a chore punch card to make chores fun! Download the free printables here.
1. Give Concrete Examples of Tasks
‘Put away your toys’ or ‘clean up your room’ aren’t beloved phrases in any household. Often kids run away from these tasks simply because they feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. Next time, try this. If the play area is a mess, have your little one pick things up according to color. Start with red and go through the rainbow. It helps break down a daunting task into short, fun activities. Or give them a number or list of items - maybe just ten. Giving a concrete end to the chore helps them learn to do it more quickly.
2. Race the Clock to Clean
Gamify the cleaning routine by having your children beat their previous cleaning times. Remember, keep the task concrete and achievable. If you put all your clothes in the laundry basket in 5 minutes, this time, aim for 4. Or set up your phone on a timelapse function (propped up with a view of the room). Your little ones will love re-watching the video to see themselves transform their spaces at superspeed into neat and clean sanctuaries.
3. Have an After Dinner Dance Party
After dinner, put on a favorite song for everyone to clean and dance to. Make sure the whole family has specific tasks like washing the dishes, drying them, or wiping the counters. Doing it all together is what makes it fun. Plus, by the time the song ends, you’ll have a cleaner space. It is an excellent way for your kids (and you) to let loose at the end of a long day. It also encourages everyone to pitch in together to keep the space tidy.
4. Create a Chore Chart
Kids work well with seeing and doing. Having a to-do list on the wall helps them visualize far better than a verbal request. If you have a set of chores, why not create and put up a fun chart? All you need is paper, coloured pens and some tape. Keep the jobs easy, like ‘feed the dog,’ ‘take out the trash,’ or ‘pick up the toys.’ Then add foldable tabs, so your kids will be excited to mark their progress. This simple gesture feels instantly rewarding and will keep them coming back to finish the list. Remember to praise your little one for a job well done.
5. Create a Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of everyday misplaced things. Coats, shoes, books - whatever tends to accumulate around the house. Hand this list over to your children. Set a timer, and see how many items they can put away before the timer goes off. The one who collects the most number of things is the winner and gets a treat. Remember to do this frequently in short bursts to keep your kids from getting bored. The winner could also get to make the list for the next scavenger hunt!