Children and chores don’t mix, but these hacks will help kids get busy.
Let’s face it, when kids who should have been at school or nursery are home all day, things can get messy. Add in limited opportunities for time outside and you have a recipe for carnage.
One of the least-commented-upon downsides of this epidemic (for very good reason – we know) is the state our homes are getting into: toys littered everywhere, bedclothes scattered randomly around, clothes spilling out of laundry baskets.
So it seems like exactly the right time to teach our children the value of tidying up after themselves and helping out with a few basic chores. After all, we’re all in this together.
Not that getting kids to help out is easy. Children can be forgetful (though never, strangely, when it comes to snacktime, screen time or meals). And no parent likes to get angry, especially when we’re all stuck in the house together 24/7.
Luckily, there are cunning ways to ensure that chores get done, at the right time and without complaint. Here are eight hacks that will help.
1. Start them young
Not so much a hack as common sense, but tidying up after yourself is a habit we need to instill in our children. The best way to ensure your kids help around the house is to start them young. Tidying toys away is an obvious first step, and children can be helping with that – under supervision – from the age of two.
According to parenting blogger and happiness coach Andrea Reiser: “Toddlers love to help out and often feel such pride in their accomplishments. When cleaning and picking up is part of the expectations you establish within the family, kids catch on quickly.”
2. The toy jail
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With all that clutter from the holidays, you’re probably tired of picking up the toys around the house by now. – What a great time to teach the kids how to pitch in and do chores around the house. They won’t want to of course but if you create a toy jail, you’ll come out on top! – What are your favorite sneaky ways to get the kids to pitch in? – #mom #mother #mommy #motherhood #momlife #candidmotherhood #motherhoodunplugged #specialeducation #specialneeds #specialneedsmom #momofboys #momofgirls #singlemom #momoftwo #momofthree #momoffour #supermom #autism #dyslexia #dyscalculia #workingmom #parenting #parents #parenthood #momproblems #parentproblems
One creative parent ensured their kids tidy up after themselves by putting the culprits in prison. Not the kids themselves, you understand. Their Instagram post features a plastic tub with ‘Toy Jail’ scrawled in black marker pen, along with the accompanying rhyme:
“You left it out and I picked it up, I’ve got your stuff, you’re out of luck. To get it back, please do a chore, then it’s yours, just like before.”
It has all the ingredients of a good tidying hack. It’s fun and playful, but at the same time effective. Children don’t get their favourite toys back until they’ve completed a chore. Next time, they might remember to tidy their toys away in the first place.
3. The WiFi jail
Older kids might not leave stuffed animals lying around, because they never look up from a screen long enough to make a mess. But they also have chores to do, like loading the dishwasher, hoovering their rooms or feeding the dog. For these refuseniks there are two options:
- WiFi withdrawal. Simply reset the WiFi password (easy to do if you know how) every morning and tell the kids they can have it when the chores are complete. If you have to go out for the day (post pandemic, obviously), get them to send a photo of each completed task in exchange for the password.
- Alternatively, replace Toy Jail with Charger Jail. Devices soon run short of juice. Kids can have their chargers back when their chores are done.
get them to send a photo of each completed task in exchange for the password
4. Make chores a game
The best parenting hacks are often the sneakiest. Fire those little imaginations in a helpful way by getting them to play the main character in a bit of fun role play called Claire’s Cleaning Service or Tim the Tidyman Ltd. Kit them out appropriately – rubber gloves, aprons, hat with pinned-on logo – and before you know it the dishwasher is empty and the dining room dusted. You play the part of an admiring homeowner, paying them in Monopoly money.
To be fair there’s a limited window of opportunity with this one. By the age of six or seven your in-house cleaning operative may begin to smell a rat. At that point, agree to pay them in real money (of the pocket variety) and you’ve hooked them for good.
5. Make chores a game (2)
The hack above is good for slightly older children. But for three- and four-year-olds, an easy alternative is to turn tidying into a race. Kids love racing against the clock, so set a timer, pick half the room each, and see who can put most toys, games and Lego bricks away by the time the buzzer goes. No child of our acquaintance can resist a chance to beat a parent at anything, so if you want repeat performances you might be best advised to lose.
6. Get kids on board with chores
Kids love routine, so a simple but effective hack is to put up a weekly bulletin board for each child. Each board should list the child’s weekly schedule, the chores they need to complete on specific days, and any accompanying notes (such as: “if there is still food on the table after you’ve wiped it, you do it again tomorrow”).
7. Use a loyalty card
Coffee shop loyalty cards have us adults hooked. We love working towards that freebie! Use the same technique to get kids to do chores. Print out cards with 10 squares. On the last square, write in an enticing freebie (a hot chocolate, a movie night etc), and simply put an X in each empty box when the required chore/chores have been completed. Ideally, each card will take a few days to fill, giving your kids something to work towards.
7. Use a chore hack app
If your kids have their own phones, there are lots of chore apps you can download that let you create a timetable of chores and set reasonable rewards for their completion. For older kids, these apps can even be linked to basic bank accounts, so chores are assigned a monetary value and that amount is paid when the chores are done.
Many of these apps are just high tech versions of the old parenting trick of trading chores for cash. But they are handy. You can set reminders, and children get a dashboard where they can tick off tasks. Where apps are linked to bank accounts, they can set savings goals and monitor their spending, adding an element of financial education to chore completion.