Neither do I. That’s because it was a mundane part of life that we all just got on with. These days, simply getting the vacuum out involves more strategic planning and tense negotiations than an Apprentice task.
I could definitely use some help and here are my top tips for getting kids to pitch in around the home…
Remember the benefits
Are you guilty of doing everything yourself because it’s quicker – or do you hate to nag? You’re not alone. A recent survey revealed that one in four children aged between five and 16 never do anything to help their parents around the house.
If that sounds like you, it’s worth remembering that you could be harming their development. Simple things such as getting themselves dressed, scraping plates or picking up rubbish from the floor can help boost children’s fine motor skills. Through such tasks they’re also learning valuable life skills, plus you’re doing something together, increasing social interaction.
Think of what they can do…
OK, now you’re sold, what kind of housework can they help you with? You may be surprised at just how much they can, and will, do. Even two year olds should be able to clean up after themselves by tidying their own toys, clearing up any spills and putting their clothes and shoes away neatly. It turns out my two love scraping their plates into the bin and stacking them in the dishwasher – and it’s now become part of our eating routine.
At first, start small with tasks such as laying the table, sorting whites from darks, putting clothes in the washing machine, washing dishes or polishing tables. Then you could progress to things like folding hand towels, mashing veggies (under supervision) and pegging out washing on a low line.
Make it fun
OK, it may be fun at first but chances are, when the novelty wears off you’ll need to employ extra motivational tactics to ensure that they keep up the good work.
- Put loud music on and dance away while you work
- Turn cleaning into a treasure hunt by hiding some pennies or chocolates for them to find
- Turn chores into fun competitions. For example – who can fold the most laundry or clear their plates the fastest?
- Even things such as loading the washing machine can be made more enjoyable by balling up socks and throwing them in from a distance
- Let them use fun accessories such as spray guns or big feather dusters, put old socks on their hands as wiping mitts and get them their own child-sized brooms or mops
Lots of praise can also be great motivation, but for an extra boost you could use small incentives like pocket money, more TV time or a little treat. Sticker charts can also help to focus and motivate.
Finally, you may need to look at your attitude to chores – if you don’t think it’s fun, your body language will betray this and your child won’t want to do it either.
Disclosure – Tamsin offered to guest post in exchange for some John Lewis vouchers that have gone into the coffers to fund some nice things for January