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Friday, March 26, 2010

Frugal Fun Friday- Getting Kids to Enjoy Housework

All-of-a-kind Family

Last week I promised you a post on getting children to enjoy housework. So here it is.

I am an avid reader, and while I hate history and have ever since I was  a child, I've always enjoyed reading a good bit of historical fiction. All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor is one such book. Its a charming book about a family of five girls from an immigrant family, growing up on New York's Lower East Side in the early 1900s.
Their Mama was one ingenious lady, filled with all sorts of great ideas.
All the children in Mama's family had chores to do, but Mama wanted to make sure they'd do it enthusiastically.
To make dusting the living room fun, Mama hid buttons, and sometimes pennies among the furniture. Only by doing a good job of cleaning would they be able to find all the buttons.

Making cleaning into a treasure hunt is just one way of making housework fun for kids.

My husband and I live by the mantra that you can't force anyone, including your child, to do something they do not care to do. By having cleaning and other household chores be games (like in All of a Kind Family), you make your kids want to do them.
-Have competitions between your kids- see who can put their sorted clothes away faster, and the winner gets to have a special something, like reading a story together with mom, or a slightly later bed time.
`Have a scoreboard where you write down the "highest score"- time how long a certain chore takes a certain child and see if the other kids can beat that "high score" for his or her name to be written in the place of honor.
-Have hidden things in the house that can randomly be discovered via cleaning and let your children know that  they can expect treasures.
-Have your children wash the floor in bathing suits, with lots of water and big poofy sponges.
The ideas are endless.

By using a bit of creativity and making your kids enjoy helping around the house, you'll not only save yourself the aggravation of needing to constantly nag your children to do their chores, you'll also have a source of good cheap fun for your kids.

One very important thing to remember is this. At least when kids are younger, they want to be just like Mommy and Daddy. If Daddy always does the dishes, little Jake will also want to wash them as well. If Mom is baking bread, little Sammy will want to become a baker just like her.
The downside to this equation is that if Mommy hates washing the dishes and shows that by her body  language, if not words themselves, the little tykes will also pick up this dislike and "hate washing dishes" to be just like Mom.
Kids, especially when young, are a big case of "Monkey See, Monkey Do". Too many a time I've seen a child scarfing down a certain dish. In walks big sis, takes a sniff, turns up her nose and says "Eww. I don't like lentils." And then you get every kid, from oldest to youngest, saying "Eww. I don't like lentils," even though until a few seconds prior they were inhaling the food.

Specifically because kids pick up on attitudes and mimic them, if you want your kids to enjoy housework, its important that you show them that you, the Mom, enjoys housework. Even if you never say "Ugh. Those darn dishes," but just show your distaste for them via your attitude, your kids will pick it up and also dislike the work. Your offspring are great sponges and absorb your attitude, not just what you say.
The best way to show your children that you enjoy your housework is to truly try and enjoy the housework. Hopefully I'll write up a post on day about learning to appreciate those chores, and turning the tedium into serenity. (Once I've mastered it myself, that is. But I'm getting there.)

How do you get your children to enjoy housework? Make it fun and show that you, too, enjoy housework.

Do you make chores into games? What do you do to make your children want to do housework?
Do you personally like or dislike housework? Do you think your children pick up on that?

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