Are you looking for ways to get your children to do household chores? Ideas for making the task a little less boring:
Cleaning the bathtub can be a daunting task for children. I discovered a hack that
has made bathtub cleaning fun and safe for my little ones. I take a grapefruit and slice it in half.
Then I sprinkle a little salt inside the fruit’s flesh and, voilà, my young children have their own
scrubber to get that dirty ring out of the tub. It’s cheap, chemical free and leaves my tub shining
— not to mention the smell is wonderful.
My four children shared a bathroom, but there were constant complaints about someone
leaving a wet towel on the floor, toothpaste in the sink or dirty clothes in a heap.
Then my husband had a brilliant idea. “Moonwalk into the hallway,” he told our kids, “and look at
what you’ve left behind. Then go back and pick it up, put it away or rinse it out.”
Teaching them to walk backward out of the bathroom helped them better see their mess, and it
successfully taught our children to leave a room looking clean.
Sometimes my family chooses to spread housecleaning out over a few days, so I write all
the tasks for cleaning on individual index cards. Each job is rated. I put a “1” on jobs like
tidying the living room, a “2” on tasks like doing dishes and a “3” on more involved jobs like
mopping or vacuuming the floor.
Each number goes in a different pile. I also add some fun cards to each pile, such as “Sorry, draw
again.” Each morning, everyone draws one card from each pile and must complete the task by the end
of the day. This continues each day until all the cards are used.
Trash and Treasure
My son disliked emptying the trash cans in our house. And no matter how often he
did the job, he invariably missed a few bins. So I turned his weekly chore into a treasure hunt.
On a square of brown craft paper, I sketched a simple plan of our house, marking the location of
each trash can with a red X. When trash day arrived, I challenged him to find all the X’s on the map
and collect the loot. Not only did he check every room, but he also finished in record time. From
then on, once a week he’d unroll his map and embark on his trash-collecting adventure until he
learned the job by heart.
Spills and Toddlers
When my daughter was learning how to drink out of a cup, there were many spills. After one spill
(which clearly wasn’t accidental), I simply said, “You spilled; wipe it up.”
I showed her
where we kept the dishrags and assisted her in wiping all the water off the floor. For every spill
that happened after that, I followed the same steps. If I spilled, I also verbalized, “I spilled.
I’d better wipe it up.” The repetition was important.
One day, we had friends over, and
someone spilled a drink. My 18-month-old child babbled a word that sounded like “spilled.” She
toddled over to the cabinet, picked up a rag and wiped up the spill without being told.
Good Clean Fun
One of my children’s jobs is wiping down the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. Food spills and
dust often cover the white surfaces, but I don’t always have time to scrub the cabinets. So I give
each of my daughters a dishcloth and a small spray bottle filled with water, a little vinegar and a
few drops of an essential oil. They spray and wipe to their hearts’ content. It may not come out
perfect, but it definitely works, and they have fun in the process.
I wanted to teach my little ones to mop up spills while they still liked imitating my actions. So I
had them use a dry mop to practice painting imaginary objects on the floor. After they got the hang
of handling a mop, I secretly made small water spills in different areas of the room so they could
put their new skill to practice. They did this well, had fun and were soon mopping up real spills.
Dusting for Money
Since dusting is my least favorite chore, teaching my young daughters to dust proved challenging. I
didn’t want to pass along my dislike of the job, so I tried to find a way to make it fun. By hiding
coins for them to find in not-too-obvious places, I turned the chore into a game. The girls got to
keep the coins they found after they completed dusting their assigned areas. “It’s like an Easter
egg hunt!” they shouted. They soon began to look forward to Dusting Day.
The Job Jar
Cleaning the house can be a complicated chore, so I came up with a system to help
simplify the process for my kids. On cleaning day, I took a pint-sized Mason jar and filled it with
craft sticks labeled with age-appropriate jobs that take about five minutes to accomplish. Whenever
they finished a job, my children drew a new stick with a new task.
One of the first chores my son was responsible for was vacuuming the living room. I asked him to
select an upbeat song that he liked. He chose “Until the Whole World Hears” by Casting Crowns, which
runs for nearly five minutes.
During vacuuming time, I played this song and told my son that he needed to vacuum the living room
until the song stopped. This was a great way to ensure that he did a thorough job.
We did this with each of our boys, assigning them different rooms. Today vacuuming is still the most
requested chore in our home.
—Kim Van Dunk