By Erica, Contributing Writer
Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place
So hum a merry tune
It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace
And as you sweep the room
Imagine that the broom is someone that you love
And soon you’ll find you’re dancing to the tune
Are you familiar with this song from Snow White? or maybe you remember the wonderful scene in Mary Poppins where she convinces Jane and Michael to help her clean their nursery room? I don’t know about you but I want to be a sweet mother that motivates her children to do the housework without nagging or yelling like they did. It sort of seems like a skewed sense of reality, but in my estimation it has to be possible some of the time.
I asked some of my friends and family members what they have done or do to get their children involved in household tasks. They gave me some fantastic input that I believe will be beneficial to you and me both.
Work beside them.
This is the key to working with your children. It goes beyond giving them a job to perform and walking off hoping they will complete it. First, this teaches them how to do a job before you assign them to do the job by themselves. Second, it is a great example of servant leadership.
If you are willing to work beside them then they feel valued. If they see you, even as an adult, doing any job no matter how big or small, then they can understand that in a spiritual concept of service toward others. Finally, it is a way in which you will be able to gauge each child’s abilities. When you watch how they do things then you can tell whether the job is too hard for them or age appropriate.
A Special Note: While you work beside them, be filling their hearts with good quality time together without harsh words and criticism. A big turn-off children have to chores is that they feel like they can never do the job to their parents’ satisfaction. If they need help, you should use helpful words to correct them without insulting them personally.
Use music to get your work done together.
What made these fictional characters like Snow White and Mary Poppins successful? They used music while they worked. I have created a couple of Pandora stations that help us get our work on. This is one of the best things you can do to create fun memories of cleaning together.
Find an age appropriate task for each child.
Even a two-year-old will want to participate in helping you because they love you. Allow them to even pretend to work when they may not really be helping. If they think they are appreciated in contributing at a young age then I believe it will set them for good work habits for a lifetime. There are all types of chore charts that are on the internet that will help you find age appropriate chores for each of your children. I have this chart posted at my house by The Happy Housewife.
Allow your child to do a job they like to do.
You may have a cabinet full of dishes waiting to be washed or a laundry hamper filled with dirty laundry because you have jobs you do not like. Your children will have chores that they prefer over others just like you. It is not wrong to teach them how to do all jobs that are required in your home. You may have continual resistance if you regularly assign your child to a job they do not enjoy, it may be more helpful for you to give them the job of their heart’s desire.
Use working together as a tool to teach other things educationally, spiritually, and physically:
Teach counting, the alphabet, shapes, matching. Review math facts, vocabulary, work on spelling lists.
Recite scripture, sing spiritual songs, talk about Bible stories, discuss Biblical character qualities like diligence, thoroughness, and order.
Most chores will teach your children good eye-hand coordination. Quick work done properly can be good exercise for the heart. Make a game out of your work, race against the clock or against each other.
Teach your children how to do new things (this is why rotating tasks is important). This will stretch their abilities and then will equip them for greater tasks, that will then, hopefully, lead them to greater responsibility.
Give the chores a fun name!
My husband is an Oklahoma Sooners fan and their famous chant is, “Boomer Sooner!” So, I named our sweeping chore, “Broomer Zoomer.” The kids love that name since they love to cheer for the Sooners too. We also have other tasks named, Washing Machine Man, Silverware Sargeant, and Vacuum Volunteer. It’s a little corny to name the tasks, but it will be a positive motivating factor because if they like the name of the task then it will excite them to perform the job itself.
We may not be able to always be so sweet at getting our children to help us with the household chores as Mary Poppins, but I believe that if you make an effort to work beside them then it will be a benefit to you not only today but also in the long-term picture of your family life.
If you are a Snow White or Mary Poppins and you have a great idea on how to get your children to work with you happily and cheerfully, please leave your input in the comments!