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Put those kids to play/work

One of the best things about kids is that they think chores are fun! And that’s a trait we’ve tried to capitalize on; why not? We’ve tried to model enjoying chores (haven’t done as well on this one), integrated chores into our daily schedule instead of one long block, and include our kids (and each other) in household activities to add a social aspect.

Here’s some of the ideas that have worked well for us.

  1. Washing Dishes – This is by far the best activity to include our kids in. They love it and their hard work pre-cleans the dishes so the actual washing is much quicker. I highly recommend putting a couple towels on the floor though, and enjoy getting wet.
  2. Shoveling the Sidewalk – This is another activity the kids just love. My wife bought our two kids their own shovels and the three of them go out and have a little fun throwing snow off the driveway. The kids’ contribution may be minimal but they have a good time, feel like a contributing part of our family, and even burn a few calories.
  3. Vacuuming – From an early age the kids have wanted to help out with vacuuming. Despite going through stages of being scared of the vacuum they still want to try it. We struggled at first to find a way to include them as toys just wouldn’t substitute for the real thing. Our first attempt was with our own vacuum, but its much to large for a young child. Our second try was the “Dirt Devil Junior”. It’s marketed as a kids vacuum that works, but it doesn’t. I couldn’t get it to pick up a bread crumb off of a linoleum floor. Our final solution was the Cordless Swivel Sweeper. Its light weight, actually picks things up, can be assembled with a short handle that works great for the kids, and the rechargeable battery keeps the weight down. It doesn’t replace a vacuum, but it definitely removes the worst dirt and helps the carpet to look a little cleaner.
  4. Grocery Shopping – Now I may have a bit of a one sided view here since I have two little girls, but they love to shop. It can be a challenge for them to understand why they can’t put anything in the cart, but if we keep them busy it can be a lot of fun. We get them to help us find things, ask them to carry things, let them put things in the cart, and of course reward them with a cookie when we pass any bakery.
  5. Emptying the Dishwasher – This one has also worked for our kids at a variety of stages. When they’re just walking they help by simply lifting the item up where I grab it and put it away. As they get older they help sorting the cutlery while I put the rest away. A little older and they can put just about everything away. So we chip the odd plate, but its well worth it. Please be sure to remove all sharp objects (knives especially) before including the kids though!
  6. Misc Errands – Things like putting stuff in the garbage, putting plates in the dishwasher, grabbing a kleenex are all examples of little things the kids will often help us out with. We don’t expect it, we just ask them. If they are willing we thank them greatly. When they don’t want to help out we simply smile and do it ourselves. Pretty quick they begin to think they’re the one thats missing out.

We won’t really know if our hard work has made a difference in the kids for many years but I can tell you already that housework seems like less of a hassle for me. At least someone’s learned something.

One area we have not been successful is in teaching them to clean up after they’re done playing. Now we realize part of this is we are still learning to do this ourselves, so we’re all in this together. I’m optimistic that as they reach the school age they can begin to act as an accountability partner for us so we can all improve on this.

If you have any good ideas on including kids in your day to day activities, please share!

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