By Guest Blogger Ginny Olson
These days, I’m all too excited to offload some easy chores to my children. Because someday (fingers crossed!) they will have their own bachelor pads, and I need them to learn the joy of a clean house that’s free of leftover pizza boxes attracting ants.
Easy chores for your kiddos
1 – Empty the trash
What child doesn’t LOVE the garbage truck? Let yours live out their fantasy by emptying those small, bedroom trash cans into the giant outdoor garbage can when it’s trash-truck-Tuesday.
And, oh man, they can talk about HOW STRONG AM I, MOMMA? when they’re done. (You might need to empty the trash cans a day or two earlier to lighten the load a bit.)
2 – Set the table
Keep your silva-wear (that’s Southern-talk for CUTLERY), cups, plates, and napkins in drawers and cabinets your kids can reach. Ask your little peeps to gather these items and put them on the table.
If they resist, make it a game: I bet I can stack all the cups on top of the plates and balance everything on my head and walk to the table without dropping anything!
Obviously, I’m assuming kid-appropriate dinner-wear. (That’s mom-talk for PLASTIC.)
3 – Clear the table
Your kids can totally pick up the dishes off the table and transport them back to the kitchen when dinner is done – and place them on the counter or in the sink or dishwasher.
But maybe not if you’re having soup that they refused to eat and they are suddenly inspired to see what happens when one drops a full soup bowl from 3 feet above the ground. GRAVITY IS COOL!
4 – Wipe down the table
Spilling things and throwing food are kinda fun and happen sometimes in life. Also: your kid should learn to fix things when they mess stuff up.
Once your kid has mastered wiping up food-spills, you can arm them with a damp rag to wipe off the table anytime you want.
Bonus: you can call it “water play” and explain that in mommy’s world it involves also cleaning cabinets, door knobs, and windows. They can play this game FOR HOURS!
5 – Clean up the house
Everyone lives in the house. Everyone cleans up the house.
You can be a stickler about this: NO PILLOWS ON THE FLOOR. MAKE YOUR BED. STRAIGHTEN THE TOWELS ON THE RACK. Or you can ease into this and assign one night a week to clean up everything. We do Sundays.
The trick with getting small people to clean up is that YOU HAVE TO HELP THEM. If you lounge on the couch leisurely reading, they will STOP WORKING. So give yourself 5 things to SLOWLLLLLYYYYYYY pick up in the same room where they are working to make them think you are in this with them.
Again, games are your friend. Who can pick up seven green cars in 20 seconds? How many things will this train crash into when we zoom it down this ramp into the toy box?
6 – Dust things
This was my job as a child. Because we didn’t have a maid. And because I like things that get results. See the smudges on the TV? Oh, wow, now I see my reflection!
Dusting is similar to “wipe off the table,” sans wet rag, so it’s an easy leap for a small kiddo to make. Plus, you can make up stories about how they are pirates hunting evil dust fairies. (Costumes are optional.)
7 – Assist with “adult” chores
My boys love to sweep the garage or water the plants or pick up sticks in the yard.
You can get really creative with this. In fact, there are TONS of big chores little ones can assist with. Like the other day, the 5 1/2-year-old helped me change all the bedsheets in the house. This involved a game of tug-a-war, with him pulling off the old sheets and dragging them into a giant pile in the hallway. I could’ve asked him to drag the pile to the laundry room, too, but let’s not go overboard, people.
Then I put new pillow cases on the pillows and told him to toss them onto the beds like he was a shot-putter. He was SUPER PROUD and puffed up all kinds of big when I told his daddy how he was such a GIANT HELPER.
One day, our children will have to do all these chores by themselves. So you might as well let them start practicing now when you’re close by to guide them. And to remind them to: Pick up that pizza box! It isn’t gonna walk itself to the trash can!
Ginny Olson is the author of the blog MothersRest.com, a love letter to moms, both new and seasoned, journeying from sleep deprived to joy-arrived. When not riding-herd over two small male children, Ginny runs the career strategy firm, Brand Elements Coaching, where she helps professionals navigate the job market and successfully undertake career pivots. She also teaches Marketing for Nonprofits at the local university.
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