Do chores have to be a chore? Even the term conjures up feelings of misery. But with a little creativity even sorting socks, dusting furniture, cleaning the bathroom or putting away the dishes can be fun! Creative chores helped us communicate many valuable lessons to our kids during their elementary years such as:
• Work is good for us
• Serving others can be fun
• The sense of accomplishment is rewarding
• Good work is appreciated
• Creativity is a great gift from God
• Work is not part of the curse
These important messages get lost in the typical haranguing over doing chores.
When our own children were in their elementary school years, we followed several key principles to make creative chores for kids.
1. Choice is important. Many of the different ways we did chores encouraged the kids to choose which chores on the list they wanted to do. This allowed them to pick the jobs that were in keeping with their bent. For example, one of our kids was a natural organizer. She loved to help get things in shape.
2. Variety is also important. Not only did we vary the way we did chores, we also varied the kinds of chores as well. Sometimes cleaning was the priority, other times laundry or cooking and baking, whatever needed done.
3. Chores also need to be age-appropriate. We often needed to adjust our expectations. We wanted them to do the best they could, but it was important to remember it will not be exactly the way we would have done it.
4. Break the chores down into specific steps. Instead of saying “clean the living room”, the list would give the steps: dust, vacuum the rug, and put away anything that doesn’t belong here. This breaks the task down for the child and communicates your expectations. It also teaches them how to do it.
These principles help to equip children with necessary skills that are needed for life.
Certainly, it is true that there are many unpleasant things in life that we must do. But all of us would rather put the best face on a project. So, we tried to teach our children that there were different ways to look at things. Often our attitude makes a big difference.
Finally, although we believed that rewards were important, we wanted to teach them that chores were part of the responsibility of living in a family. We also wanted to teach our children to help and serve one another. Therefore, we did not pay our children for chores as part of their allowance. However, we did believe that rewards not only helped to motivate our children to do good work, but it also provided a tangible expression of our appreciation for them. It was amazing what our kids would do to earn a giant Slurpee from 7-Eleven.
A few of the daily chores were posted on a chart on the refrigerator. There was a rotating schedule for caring for the dishes (set, clear, load) and for feeding our golden retriever. But the big chores around the house were taken care of in a variety of ways. While some of the creative chores took a little longer than others to prepare, spending a great amount of time was not necessary for any of them. Can’t wait to share some of our creative chores on Wednesday’s blog post!