"I love hugs and I love kisses,
But what I really love is help with the dishes!"
- Author Unknown
(and the washing and the ironing and the cooking and the packing away...Author - ME!)
Chores certainly don't make my heart sing. In fact, sometimes I can really moan about them! I have to remind myself that little ears are listening and that I am setting the example for how my children will approach their chores. If I moan about them, they surely will too.
So how does one make the humdrum of daily chores fun?
- Play a game called "It's a record!" - Tell your child to count out loud while they are busy with their chores or set a stopwatch and see how fast they can complete them. They must remember their "record" and the next time that they do their chores, they must see if they can beat their previous record.
- Another fun game is "It's a race against time!" - Set a timer and as each minute passes, count them down. Your child must try to complete the task before the time runs out. You can pretend that when the time runs out the house will explode, or take off to the moon...anything that will create some fun tension and speed the little racer up.
- Put on some of your favourite music and dance. (Just don't forget to clean up)
- If you are all in the same room while doing chores, play a game like eye-spy.
Do you know that it is so important for children to have chores and responsibilities around the home. It's a very effective "Self Esteem Builder". When we do things for our children that they can do for themselves, we are saying to them " I don't think that you can do it, or, I don't think that you can do it well enough". One of my son's responsibilities is to make his own bed in the morning. If I did it, it would take less than a minute to shake the duvet, fold the pajamas and straighten the pillows . Nice, neat and tidy, just the way I like it. When he does it, it's not always up to scratch. The pillows may be a bit crumpled, the duvet a little skew. However, by taking this responsibility away from him, I'm taking away an opportunity for him to become a more capable, independent individual. On top of that, when he completes the task and does the job well, he feels a healthy sense of pride at having done it all by himself.
Clearly defined chores (written or verbal) are helpful for children. They act as reminders and take away any unnecessary bargaining or negotiating on your child's part. My son often asks why he needs to do chores. I have explained that we all live in our home and want it to be reasonably tidy and functional and that means that we all have to contribute to making it work properly. I have used the example of not washing dishes and the consequence being that we would not have any clean plates to eat from when we have our next meal. It's pretty basic stuff, but I keep it matter-of-fact and positive.
I recently read an article by Dr. Ruth Peters about the importance of teaching children a work ethic. The article is an excerpt from her book called 'Laying Down the Law'. The article reveals many truths and is well worth a read. She reminds us that children do not grow up demonstrating good frustration tolerance, perseverance and self-discipline. These are characteristics that we have to take the time to teach them. You can read the article here.
I also like the way Maria Montessori viewed it. She saw the endpoint of a child's development to be that he should be well-adjusted and self-sufficient. Therefore, any assistance we offer to a child's natural development, should foster independence and self-sufficiency. In a nutshell, we need to help our child to do it by themselves.
A Happy Helper - Dec 2009
If you have any fun ideas to add to making chore-time cheerful, please leave a comment. I would love to hear it.