Making Chores Fun

The following fun-filled ideas will help you teach your kids to be responsible contributors to the household.

Make it a game

As bedtime approaches, we often find our 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son playing happily. So instead of telling them they have to quit playing and pick up their toys, we try to make picking up part of their play.

If they are playing with the shopping cart, they can go buy the stuffed animals they left in the living room and use the cart to bring them home. If they’re playing with blocks, the block box becomes a basketball hoop, and we see how many blocks they can shoot into the box. If they are playing with cars and people, we pretend everyone is going to a party on the closet shelf.

There are times when the kids just have to pick up their toys, but we’ve found that looking for creative ways to incorporate cleaning into play makes it fast and fun for everyone.

Take the time to let your kids help you work

Like most kids, my son learns best not by being told what to do but by watching and copying us. So we allow him to participate in many everyday tasks, which helps him learn responsibility.

We let him snap the beans for dinner, cut the cucumbers on a cutting board (with a dull butter knife, of course), knead bread dough, pound in a tent stake when camping, use real tools to work on his bike, sweep with a small broom, clean with a rag, dig with a plastic shovel and bucket in the garden or rake fall leaves with us.

The laundry express: A chore kids will enjoy

Sometimes, we just need to be willing to follow our children’s cues.

My 2-year-old son held his blue train engine over the laundry basket. “Mommy, can I throw Thomas in there?”

At first, I didn’t see the opportunity that his simple question presented.

“No, honey. These baskets are for clothes.” I barely glanced away from my mountain of dirty laundry I was sorting.

“Oh,” he said and walked away.

Thankfully, my son returned with another engine to see if it was OK to put this one in the laundry basket. That’s when the Laundry Express idea hit me, and it’s become a favorite activity in our house.

We line two or three laundry baskets end-to-end and decide what to put in each one (dark clothes, light clothes, towels, etc.). Then my son gives each laundry-basket-turned-train-car a name, and we begin sorting. My son loads the train cars with the dirty laundry, making decisions as to which colors go in each basket. When we’re done, he climbs inside a basket for a short ride around the house before we unload at the laundry station.

By allowing my son to take part in everyday tasks, I hope that those experiences will grow into a sense of responsibility and knowledge that will carry him into adulthood.

Copyright © 2010 by Janna Jones. Used by permission.