Some people will disagree with trying to get small children to help around the house.
This time in their lives is for play, not for working – surely?
Whilst I am in full agreement that play and fun should be top of the list – there’s no reason why some chores can’t be weaved into that fun too!
Children have boundless energy, and it’s a great way to get them moving and use up some of that energy as well!
I really believe in getting everyone in the family involved in its smooth running – and that can start as early as the child allows.
Get Kids Prepared
Getting small children to help around the house is crucial to bringing them up to be able to look after themselves in their adult lives.
We all have to live somewhere, and we all have to run a home at some point in our lives – so we really need to start young to develop the habits that are required to make this as easy as possible.
If things become habits from a very young age – then that’s half the battle won.
It’s A Life Skill We All Need To Learn
Having children help out around the house is a natural progression for their development, and is one of the best skills that they can learn from you.
One of the biggest issues with people today is that they simply haven’t learnt how to run a house, and when they move out of their family home and start living somewhere by themselves, they can quickly become unstuck.
It’s not taught at school, and if you don’t have parents that let you help out, and visibly see what it takes to run a house from an early age, then you’ll never pick it up (or at least not that easily).
So really – you can’t afford NOT to let your children help around the house – can you!?
There are loads of ways to get children more involved in chores, and here are my favourites:-
Ways To Get Small Children To Help Around The House
#1 – Let Them See You Doing It And Explain Why It’s Needed
Children are sponges when it comes to watching what you’re doing – and just seeing that mummy or daddy do things around the house is enough when they are very little.
I’m not saying do everything around the house with your child, but letting them see you do a few things regularly will get them used to the fact that jobs have to be done.
If you always leave housework until they are asleep or at nursery etc.. then they will never see this as part of life – and won’t learn the skill – they will always think that the house stays clean by itself (if only the cleaning fairies really did visit each day!)
You can make it a fun time as well, so if they aren’t yet talking you could have them in a baby bouncer or seat and sing to them, and talk to them about what you’re doing – they just love to be around you and listen to you so make the most of it!
#2 – They Want To Copy You – Let Them!
Children learn by watching and imitating – they are sponges to what their parents do, good or bad. It’s a huge responsibility but can be an amazingly powerful way to think about your home keeping as they grow up.
Seeing you making a home for them, watching you cook healthy meals, learning that things need to get done and it doesn’t just happen is a HUGE thing for children to learn.
And every step of the way they will start to understand that this is a part of life, and they will want to copy what they see.
You have the power to help them learn all this – and that’s amazing when you think about it!
So, why not set them a good example, and show them that yes, housework has to be done, but it doesn’t have to be a chore, and makes life easier for them as well.
#3 – Allocate Chores Based On Age And Responsibility
Children aren’t slaves!
You may be reading this thinking that I’m advocating having your children doing as many jobs as you do, following you around all day when they are at home and giving them task after task.
Not at all.
They really shouldn’t have loads to do, especially at a young age.
At that point it’s about just feeling like they helping a little here and there.
But as they grow older, they can start to get more responsibility which they should start to want anyway (OK OK, not maybe for jobs around the house, more for being allowed to play with their friends more, but I’m erring on the side of positivity here so allow me a little hope!)
Tasks that work really well at different stages are:-
- Give them a duster and get them to “polish”
- A small handheld hoover or a small brush to help clean floors is great fun!
- Making their bed
- Tidying their room
- Tidying up after playing with toys
- Watering plants
- General digging and weeding is great fun – and messy too!
- Helping to wash the car – sponge, bucket and soap – fantastic!
- Sorting washing into colours and whites and towels
- Pairing up socks
- Loading / Emptying the dishwasher
All totally possible for to do, and will give them a sense of satisfaction when they do it as well.
#4 – Make It Into A Game
Chores don’t have to be boring.
Just as when I am by myself doing chores I put music on loud and dance around (don’t tell anyone!), you can make it fun for kids as well.
Why not create some form of competition like a race against each other, or time them to see if they can do it faster than the last time – or even make it more interesting by dividing into categories i.e. when tidying up – what about finding all the dolls first, then the bricks etc….
You could also tap into something your child shows a genuine interest in as well.
For example, if they love baking then why not get them involved in helping make the evening meal. This will be much easier to get them to try if they aren’t sure about helping – it won’t feel like a chore at all!
#5 – Make It Easy For Them
- Use storage that’s accessible for them to be able to put their own things away – not too heavy or too high up
- Use hooks that are their level for their coats so they can get them and put them back just like you do
- Use different colours for each child in the house – they can then easily see what’s theirs and tidy it up. For example, have a coloured storage basket/bin in the hallway to put things that need to be tidied away by each child, have towels and toothbrushes in their colour so that they know what they need to tidy away.
- Use smaller/more appropriate cleaning items that they can handle easier (a handheld hoover is great for quick cleaning jobs for you, but can also be used by the kids more easily than the large main hoover, use a damp clean old sock on their hands for polishing rather than allowing them a duster and polish (don’t want them to end up spraying it into their faces by accident).
- Create a cleaning caddy specifically for them so that they can be like you – with simple (and safe) items in it ready to go.
Children will give up if things are too difficult, and you will tire of having to help them every time they have to do something – so give them the ability to be more independent and you will both be happier!.
#6 – Reward Chores Done
Just as I promote rewarding yourself when you’ve achieved a task, I also think a reward chart for little ones is a great way of getting them motivated.
It’s also a great way to show them without having to tell them what their jobs are, as you can draw a picture of each task that they have to do – so they can see what needs to be done at a glance and start to become more proactive as they get older.
You can add all sorts of tasks to it, including things like good listening, eating their food, making their bed, tidying their room etc…. and give them a star for everything they do.
See how may stars they can get each day. I find that a weekly roundup to see how they’ve done, followed by a treat of some kind is enough to keep them going! – and it doesn’t have to be a big treat at all:-
- Some time with you reading their favourite book
- A trip to the park
- A film
- Some sweets / Chocolate / Ice cream
My daughter has grown up with me doing tasks each day – sometimes bigger jobs and sometime just a few quick daily chores. She knows they have to be done and that getting them out of the way each morning is the preference and then we have all of the rest of the day to do what we want with.
Knowing this means she is usually happy to help around the house, at least for a while (!), as she knows that it means we will be done more quickly and then we can do fun stuff afterwards!
#7 – Don’t Worry About the End Result – It’s Taking Part That Counts
We do sometimes expect too much from little ones, and it’s important to remember how little they are sometimes. I fall foul of this a lot as my daughter is quite an old soul really, and tends to act a lot more grown up than her years.
The key is to accept that they are trying to help, and willing to help – and encourage them slowly.
They will be put off for a long time (maybe always) if you are always telling them how to do something, or telling them that they haven’t done it right all the time, but they will be encouraged to do more and more if they are praised for their efforts.
#8 – Increase Responsibility As They Get Older
It can also be a reward to give different chores to children as they get older – more responsible chores as well such as helping with shopping lists, looking after the smaller children etc….
Look at what your child is capable of, and keep increasing the difficulty for them – kids like nothing more than a challenge that they can accomplish so why not stretch them – saves boredom setting in!
If you have more than one child then it’s a great way to get them even more motivated to help, as they can see that they get different and probably in their eyes, better jobs as they get older.
Overall, kids want to learn, and want to copy their parents – so why not let them do this with chores in the house?
They’re learning a skill that will serve them well for a lifetime, learning to take care of their things, and take pride in their home – and will be having fun with it along the way.
Make it fun, stretch them depending on their abilities and interests, and reward attempts and good work, and they will flourish.
The next step is to get them to have more independence with knowing what to do and when – and that’s where THIS comes in…