Have an endless “household chores to-do” list but prefer to work on your “fun stuff to-do” list? This tip is for you. It works for a single person, but it works best if you add a family…and that includes children who have the fun-thing mastered so well that they have little time to designate to chores.
Moms and dads sometimes think it’s just easier to do the household chores themselves. I challenge you to try this recipe once per week for 4 weeks. Get all family members involved so family chores become a family tradition. Its important to keep this as fun as possible – so relatively short time periods and lots of praise at the end! It works best with younger children. Repeat often and with any luck you’ll have a new family tradition.
- A timer. (Microwave or oven timer works fine.)
- All family members who can walk.
- Cleaning supplies, as needed.
- Pen and paper.
- Option: old socks.
1. Select a team captain. Typically this is mom or dad. But once this recipe becomes a family tradition, any family member will qualify for the captain position. Share the love.
2. Set number of minutes. This is the number of minutes that your family will all work feverishly doing selected chores (described in next step). Start with a short amount of time so you can make it a fun family team event.
If children are involved, make it a shorter time period. If you have 4 people working really hard for 10 minutes, that’s 40 minutes of chore time. You can build up to a longer period, but the whole point is that if everyone works really hard for a short amount of time, lots of work gets done. Not all chores may get done, but as this becomes a tradition and as the children get older, more chores will get done quickly.
3. Create a strategy. Using the pen and paper, write a list of household chores that need to be done. Set yourself up for success by selecting chores that can be done in a relatively short time. Throw in a more involved chore and ask for a volunteer special agent who will designated to that single chore.
Chores that worked well in my experience are: vacuuming (specify rooms), washing dishes, empty dishwasher, dust (specify locations), put toys is a basket/shelf/closet, clean microwave, fold laundry, put laundry away, sweep wood flooring, tidy a counter, make a bed, etc.
4. Set a timer for the amount of time you selected in step 2. The goal of the timer is to motivate you to work quickly to get those chores done. Give a little pep talk. You might include how much you appreciate their help because it means you’ll have a little extra time which will make you happy. Go family!
5. On your mark, get set, GO! Be a role model by working quickly yet thoroughly. Give the children a “good job!” as they’re doing their chores to keep them motivated.
Optional: for 2 or 3 year olds, slightly dampen a pair of old socks and have them dust stair railings or something that won’t end up in a bigger mess. Or put slightly damp socks on their feet and have them skate around on wood, tile or vinyl flooring. This will allow them to participate in the family event and few like they’re helping. Although you’ll likely still need to clean that floor, do it at a later time so they don’t feel like they didn’t do a good enough job. At that young age, it’s all about creating a tradition and it’s not about perfection.
6. Appreciate. Thank all participants and maybe even reward them with a bike ride, trip to the park, or playing a board game.
We did this a few times when our children were elementary school aged. I wish we would have made it more of a regular routine. I remember the kids working as fast as possible, and their help got routine chores done quickly. Live and learn.