There is no household in the world that can escape a collection of chores. Someone has to make sure that dishes don’t pile up in the sink and clothes get cleaned. Many families rely on the adults to do the heavy lifting in the housework department, but it doesn’t have to be exclusive to parents. Kids are more than capable and actually benefit from doing some chores themselves. We’ve got some great ideas on how to make chores more fun and get the whole family involved.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of kids picking up some of the responsibilities around the house, some suggestions for different age groups, and 12 ways to make chores more fun for kids of all ages.
When the chores are done…
What’s the best way to thank your family for a job well done? Tons of fun with the whole gang! With Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition, you’ll have over 50 ideas at your fingertips. On each page of this interactive activity book, you’ll find a hidden suggestion waiting to be uncovered. A handy key will help you decide exactly where to scratch—and where you’ll end up. Grab your copy today!
The Importance of Chores
Chores are a necessary evil to keep a household from falling into a disorganized mess. Getting the kids involved can help you stay on top of the list of tasks, but there are benefits for the child as well.
Life skills are learned by picking up some household chores as children grow up. There will be a day that they will need to enter the real world and have to do their own laundry, cooking, and cleaning. These aren’t tasks that are learned in schools, so it’s important for them to start getting practice while at home.
Chores help teach children responsibility and accountability. If kids have to pick up their own messes, you will notice that they are more cautious over time and reduce the number of toys and things they are pulling out at one time knowing that they need to put them all away. Having consistent responsibilities and tasks helps kids incorporate these chores into their routine.
Teamwork is another benefit of kids doing chores. They will quickly learn that working together will help get the tasks done faster. It will also help with time management and planning out priorities.
With countless benefits, it should be an easy decision to get your kiddos engaged and helping with the household chores right away.
Common Chores for Children
Family members should be assigned to chores that are age appropriate. Safety is important and there are a few things that could be more dangerous for smaller children. Don’t worry though. There is something for everyone, although infants and young toddlers get a pass for now.
Chores for Younger Kids
For the littlest members of your family, stick to chores that don’t require too much precision or muscle power. Start by having them be responsible for their own messes. There should be an expectation that they clean up their play areas when they are done. That means all toys should be back where they belong and any garbage should be thrown out. Teach them how to make their bed and put their clothes into the dirty laundry pile.
Once you’ve conquered those simple tasks, there are a few other household chores that preschool-aged kids are capable of doing. Watering plants is easy and can be a great way to help them learn about plants and how they grow. If you have a garden, engage your younger children to help you care for the plants and get them excited about the progress of the flowers, vegetables, fruits, and other plants.
After meals, kids can help load the dishwasher. This can get a little tricky if you have a lot of breakable dishes, but they can get in the habit of putting their own dirty dishes in there to help with the clean-up.
Laundry is a similar task. You probably don’t want them folding and putting away laundry for the whole family, but they can start learning where their items go and help with tasks like matching socks (see our ideas below for a fun game).
Chores for Older Kids
Once children reach the later years of elementary school and middle school, they are able to take on a bit more responsibility. Older kids are better at understanding how to work machines and tools, and they are able to practice safety when operating machines.
Outdoor chores are great for older kids. They can get a great workout by helping with shoveling snow, raking leaves, and mowing the lawn. Easy tasks like taking out the trash and recycling or putting away clean dishes can help them get into a daily rhythm. If you have a pet, you can give them additional responsibilities like walking the dog or emptying a litter box.
In the house, add on tasks that they need to know before moving out on their own after high school. Start simple with easy tasks like vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom surfaces. Make sure they know how to do laundry and how to operate the appliances in the kitchen.
How to Make Chores Fun
Whether you have to complete a task daily, weekly, or monthly, if it’s fun, you’ll have a much easier time getting these items checked off the to-do list. Even better, assigned responsibilities and hard work can help your kids form some good habits that they can carry with them. So let’s look at a few ideas to help you make household chores fun for each member of the family!
1. Create a special playlist.
When is a dance party boring? Never! Consider putting together a playlist of some of the family’s favorite songs that get them up and moving. Use this playlist when it comes time to get chores done and you’ll have no problem getting everyone up.
Cleaning doesn’t have to be boring. Use the broom as a microphone or play some air guitar on the vacuum cleaner. You can really put on a performance while getting the normal chores done. It might take a little longer this way, but that shouldn’t matter if you’re all spending a little time together and having a good time.
Add new songs whenever your kids find a new favorite so there are new surprises each time you put it on. Pick a good variety so there’s something for everyone. You’ll even get the bonus of exercise with a full-blown dance party.
2. Create a sticker chart.
One of the simplest ways to get kids involved with household chores is to utilize a reward system. Sticker charts are the most popular. Use a large poster board or a reusable whiteboard or chalkboard. Each kid will have their own and it will list out the chores and responsibilities that they are supposed to do.
Each time that a chore is completed, the kids can add a sticker to the corresponding square on their chart. Once they fill up the chart, there should be some kind of reward. Maybe there’s a TV show that they want to watch or an activity they’ve been telling you about, whatever it is, just make sure to communicate it so there is a motivation for completing items on the list.
For little kids, just putting stickers on a chart can be motivation enough, so no need to go overboard. Just keep it fun and remind them often of the reward chart.
3. Listen to an audiobook or podcast.
One trick to help get kids excited about chores is to save something for this time each week that they are helping around the house. Audiobooks and podcasts work great for this. Chat with the kids and pick out something that everyone likes listening to and then only play it while chores are being done.
Harry Potter books are great audiobooks and are very well done. You can plan to just play sections of the book while everyone is picking up and putting things away. Find a fun podcast and use it the same way. Podcasts usually release new episodes each week, so you can constantly have new content to enjoy.
Being entertained while you’re doing boring tasks can make it easier and more fun. You’ll find that the kids are looking forward to the time that they get to hear more of the story.
4. Play games while you work.
Did you know you can turn kids’ chores into games they can have fun playing while getting things done around the house? It’s true! The easiest one to start with is laundry basketball. If your child has a habit of leaving dirty clothes all over their bedroom, set up a “hoop” with a laundry basket and challenge them to throw that laundry into the basket and keep score.
Take it a step further and provide a shirt folding board to each family member. When the clothes are dry, set the kiddos up for a contest! Who can fold ten shirts the fastest? Even folding laundry can be fun! Who knew?
You could even play Go Fish with clean socks. Matching up socks can be a giant pain. By turning it into a game, you can involve the kids and make this annoying task more enjoyable. Make a pile of socks for each person playing and then take turns asking specific people if they have the matching pair, just like cards in the game. If no one has the match—Go Fish!
Those are just a couple of ideas to help you get started. Talk to your kids about it as well and see if they have any creative games to try while doing chores. Sometimes their imaginations work faster and better than our adult minds.
4. Turn your task list into a scavenger hunt.
Each season, you’ll have a bigger list of tasks to complete that don’t make the normal weekly or monthly list of chores. Get the whole family involved by turning it into a game, like a scavenger hunt. Sit down and come up with a list of things and then split up the tasks between the members of your family. Once each member has their list, they set off working to accomplish the tasks and find the listed items as fast as possible. You could even put up a prize for the person who completes their list first.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Find three pieces of clothing that don’t fit anymore to donate.
- Put all the toys away in the playroom.
- Clean the mirrors in the bathrooms.
- Dust and clean the blinds.
- Pull eight weeds from the flower beds.
You can also make this a more regular activity and use more common chores. Create small clue cards and let the kids find them. Each one should have a chore on it with another clue hidden at that location. Once they complete everything, reward them with a small gift or treasure.
5. Beat the clock!
Turn chore time into game time with a simple stopwatch or clock. Set a specific amount of time to get a certain chore done and then watch your kids race around trying to beat the clock. Make sure to use a timeframe that allows them to get it done without rushing and missing anything big. You can continue to reduce the time each day to see how fast they can do it or make it a competition with siblings.
This works great for laundry, putting away toys, taking out the trash, or cleaning up a certain room. Just be careful that you don’t try this with breakable dishes. You don’t want kids throwing glass plates into a cabinet as fast as possible because it could end up making a much bigger mess. It might not be as effective with cleaning tasks like vacuuming or cleaning surfaces because large areas could be missed if it’s being done as fast as possible.
6. Get the whole family involved.
Set a routine that includes the entire family, so no one feels like they are stuck doing more work around the house than others. A popular option is to do a morning blitz after breakfast before everyone leaves for school or work. Another option is right after dinner. You could also set aside some time on the weekend to tackle all the bigger chores.
Whatever time you decide on, have everyone come together and help each other work through the list of things that need to get done. Teamwork can help make it feel more fun and make the time fly back quicker. Maybe you have a fun activity that you plan after the chores are done, like a game night or watching a TV show together. If it’s a weekend, maybe you all head out for donuts or ice cream when you’re done to celebrate. You’ll get some time together as a family and keep your household running effectively in one shot.
7. Use “fun” cleaning tools.
Cleaning supplies might not seem very fun to you, but you’d be surprised at the hilarious options available in stores and online. Amazon has an entire section of cleaning supplies for kids. Divide up your cleaning supplies with a tote for each kid that has everything they need to complete their chores. Keeping it organized like this will help remove any obstacles to getting it done.
You can find colorful tools and products to include in the cleaning tote and maybe even hide some treats in there every once in a while. Use small items like temporary tattoos, stickers, or small toys. This can help them get excited about picking up the tools and getting started.
8. Don’t forget to get outdoors.
Spending time outside is always a fun activity, even if it means there is a little clean-up work required. There are many chores outside that might seem daunting for an adult, but kids will find it fun. Washing the car is a great example. Kids will view it as a time where they get to play in the water and spray the hose at something. You might not end up with a perfect wash, but you’ll have a clean car and happy children.
Weeds, lawn care, snow removal, and gardening are all outdoor activities that children of all ages are able to help with. If you need your plants watered, you can add that to your children’s chore chart. They will take on a sense of pride when they can see the vegetables or flowers growing on plants that they have helped care for.
Older children can help with mowing the lawn once they’ve learned the safety information. Chores that involve machines should definitely be reserved for older and more responsible kids, but if you want help pulling weeds or sweeping the sidewalk, recruit the younger ones. Try to mix up the chore selection and have some indoor and some outdoor so they can choose based on the weather and how they are feeling. Variety will help keep them engaged.
9. Aware an allowance when kids tidy up.
One important topic to cover with children is money. You don’t want your children turning 18 years old and heading to college or getting a job and having no idea what to do with their money and how to be responsible. By starting an allowance for your kids, you can help them learn the basics of managing money.
Chores are a great way for kids to earn an allowance. Kids will understand the concept of earning money. Help them figure out their money goals. Is there something they want to save up and buy for themselves? Do they want to have some weekly spending money so they don’t need to ask you all the time? Earning an allowance can help them start to practice managing money.
If you aren’t sure how much you should start with, Investopedia recommends $1 to $2 per week multiplied by the age of your child. For example, a four-year-old should get $4-$8 per week. Use the range and adjust based on how much responsibility your child is taking on at home with chores.
10. Create a “clutter jail.”
Many households suffer from a clutter problem. If you constantly find your dining room table covered in random things that collect throughout the day, this might be a fun option for your family.
Designate one laundry basket as clutter jail and each day, allow someone else to be the clutter collector. That person will make their way around the house putting anything that is left out where it shouldn’t be into the laundry basket. Once they are done, they will empty the contents out in one spot, and family members will grab their items and start putting them away.
If you want to change some habits, you can have a punishment for the person with the most items collected. Maybe that’s the person that needs to do dishes after dinner or takes the trash out. Or maybe you can get a little more creative. Whichever version of the game you decide on, it is a fun way to address the clutter in your home and help change some of the bad habits that have been created.
11. Set up systems.
If you’ve seen The Home Edit on Netflix or on Instagram, you have definitely heard this piece of advice before, but if not, we will fill you in. When organizing each specific zone in your home, it’s important to set up systems that you can stick with. For kids, it’s important to include them in the setup of any system in their spaces, so they can maintain them.
If you have a playroom or a toy room, sort things out and make sure that everything has its space. Your children might have creative ways to organize their belongings, so check with them and then come up with a plan together. Once you have a plan, put everything away and have the kids help. They have an easier time remembering where to put each item if they got to help you decide where things go.
Get into the routine of getting rid of, sorting, and organizing the spaces in your house throughout the year. Staying on top of this task should prevent it from becoming overwhelming. Plus, kids forget about certain toys so rotating them in and out of their play space will make it feel like they have some new toys all the time.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to make chores fun, you have to think about what motivates your children. Is there a certain activity or item they love? Make tasks into games or use a sticker chart to allow them to earn rewards.
An allowance is one of the simplest ways to make chores fun! It entices kids to take on responsibilities and teaches them the value of money.
In addition to a monetary allowance, you can offer items as rewards for chores. You could even offer fun family time with ideas from a scratch-off adventure book. Let the most productive kid pick the page!