I remember growing up my mom would give me a list of chores each week. If I completed them I got some form of reward: a five dollar bill, a candy, sometimes Disney VCR tape (remember those? I had a stack growing up).
Looking at statistics, apparently most Americans, in fact a whooping 82% of us had a similar chore system in place. This study was made on adults in their 20's and 30's in 2004. In 2018, statistics have changed drastically. Today, only 28% of Americans implement any sort of chore system.
Maybe we want our kids to be free and not feel weighed down to wash the dishes or fold the laundry. We want their artistic abilities to shine through and god-for-bid something like folding laundry takes away from that. But I'd like to remember what doing chores actually felt like. Yes, we hated drying dishes but it made us part of the family. It was a group effort and it allowed us to understand we need to help each other. If I wash and you dry, we will finish faster and bond while doing it as well.
I remember drying dishes after my mom washed them. And let me tell you something. Today I'm 26 years old and when I remember those times I don't remember tediously drying the dishes. All I remember is laughing with my mom. We talked, we laughed, we made funny faces and somewhere in between all that the dishes would go from dirty to spotless. Its not the chore at hand, its the approach instead.
It turns out chores have multiple benefits and can enhance the relationship between you and your child.
Research shows, people are happiest when they are able to be a part of something bigger, a seance of community and belonging is a large part of what makes us happy. Instead of telling your child to fold laundry, try turning it into an activity. Play 'go fish with a basket of clean socks. Each player gets a pile of socks with a pile in the middle to draw from and let the games begin.
You will not only sort out all of the laundry but you'll also form a stronger connection in the family.
I think for most of us its hard to imagine chores could be fun but remember its all about perspective and approach. If you make it fun, it will be fun. And in the process your child will learn responsibility, how to take care of him/herself and have fun while doing so.
Here are a few ideas of how chores can be fun.
- After dinner, do a "10-minute Tidy." Set a timer and have family members scatter through the house putting away the day's clutter.
- Make bread with your little one for dinner. You make the dough, once it rises and is ready to be shaped, get the kids around. Each child gets an equal portion of dough, they knead it, and shape it however they want. When it's time for dinner be sure to acknowledge them. Make an announcement that this bread was made with love by each child.
- While cleaning the dishes or folding laundry play a geography game. You need at-least two players. A friendly round of Rock-Paper-Scissors will determine who goes first. The first person names a country. The next person must name a country beginning with the last letter of the previous country chosen. (You can do this with countries, states, capitals...)
- Offer an incentive. Tell your child if they clean up their room, you'll make their favorite food tomorrow! And actually make it.