Eeeeek!! I said it!! I said two words that you’d never expect to be strung together in a sentence – ‘excited’ and ‘chores’. I feel like I’ve broken some cardinal rule by even suggesting this, because surely, this is not possible!! :D
You see in typical Nigerian (or African) culture, chores seemed to be the preserve of only the girl child; with boys practically being excluded from the kitchen or from doing any form of cleaning altogether. Let’s not attempt to step through the impact of this behaviour right here and now, but I’m glad to say that these stereotypes are being challenged and changed by our generation.
Looking after your living space, keeping it clean and tidy, and having consideration for anyone you may share this space with is nothing but a vital life skill, regardless of your gender. So why not make it fun for everyone?!
It’s never too early to be intentional about these things. As always, I believe setting a precedent from a young age, means these are values and habits that will be carried into adulthood.
Here are some of the things I think can help make chores fun:
- Make chores or tasks age-appropriate
We don’t want to frustrate our Littles by giving them chores or tasks that they can’t complete easily. Our 3 or 4 year olds may not be able to mow the lawn, but they can certainly help by sorting laundry by colours or pairing socks together.
In fact, they’re likely to love showing off just how well they know colours and what each item of clothing is.
- Make it a race
Last (or first) to *insert action* is a *insert phrase*”. Imagine the excitement and rush to the finish line this’ll create for your little one.
Don’t forget to join the race yourself!
- Attach a reward to it
The rewards don’t have to be monetary. I still get surprised at how excited my 5 year old gets when he receives stickers or a certificate for doing something nice. It never gets old.
- Bundle up the rewards
Bundle up rewards (stickers or certificate) to reach a fantastic and exciting goal or treat. 10 (or 100) stickers or certificates could result in a chocolate bar (or a trip to Disneyland!).
Here we can go as big or as little as budget allows.
- Reinforce positive behaviour
We want to create links between the action and positive attention. Whether it’s picking up after themselves at home or inviting a friend from school over because no one wanted to play with him/her. Acknowledging this behaviour, and saying “That was really nice when you helped Mummy set the table” can literally be enough.
- Make it a choice
Never underestimate the power of giving your Littles a choice. Choosing to do homework means choosing to watch TV for an hour afterwards for example. The inverse is the case.
So the phrasing is important – it’s important to use the word “choose”. This has saved battles because the link between action and consequence is made clear and they are empowered to choose which outcome they desire.
- Set apart a time for chores / make it routine
This way it becomes an expected activity / habit and the little ones come to expect that “Saturday mornings are for hoovering” for example.
- Give them something to look after and nurture
I’ve found the desire to nurture almost always comes naturally with kids. They love to take responsibility and ownership of the wellbeing of something / someone…be it baby brother or sister, a pet, a houseplant or a doll.
I think this is an easy win and teaches important life skills.
9. Don’t force it
I hope by the time some or all of the above have been applied – there really won’t be any need to force it.
But even so, sometimes we may just need to take a break and then try again later.
Until next time!