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Five game changing chores you can get your kids doing (without a struggle).

Uncategorized Nov 22, 2023

In my home growing up we all knew the dreaded sound of mum banging on all of our bedroom doors telling us it was “SATURDAY MORNING CLEANUP”. She would sing this song at the top of her voice about it being a ‘good morning’ and we’d all groan and moan.

BUT we all knew there was no getting out of the house to see friends until the chores were done.  My mum worked full time, there were no cleaners in those days and so we did the whole house as a group. My sister was responsible for bathrooms my brother would often have to vacuum the house and being the youngest I would unpack the lowest rack of the dishwasher and clean the skirting boards.

Research indicates that kids who regularly help around the home with chores may perform better academically and have better executive function, self-esteem and stronger problem-solving skills.

This research isn’t new, a Harvard Grant Study, which has been running since 1938 to present (the longest running longitudinal study in history) has identified two key things that enable adults to be happy and successful: First, love. Second, work ethic.

We all want our kids to be as successful as we can, do how does one develop work ethic as a child? It turns out that “having done chores as a kid” was a one of the most significant predictors.

As mum of four boys I have focussed on chores and having my boys help at home for many reasons:  

IN the early days it helped

I found it helped keep my eldest busy on long days. He wanted to be with me ALL THE TIME so I decided to get him working. We would bake, he’d hang washing, and as long as we were together he was happy.

These days it’s essential

In a big family, everyone needs to help because there just is that much work. Some days it feels like we are waging an actual war against the washing monster and no matter how fast I pick up the pace the washing beats me day after day. Our kids make their own lunches, fold washing, they wash up dishes after dinner, and help with the garden because we simply need all hands-on deck for survival.

I also believe that kids feel good when they're contributing, that chores are a really good way of enhancing connection.

However, let’s be real here. It’s not always easy to get them working!!

In my last blog post about how to get kids to do chores I noted that kids are not meant to just say “yes sure mum I’d love to help”.

They will resist and that’s a normal part of development.

But sometimes it’s all about a clever idea or a way of bringing fun and lightness to the ask that can make all the difference.

Here are my top 5 hacks to get kids helping around the house. 


Skirting Board dust challenge

There is no doubt about it: Kids love a challenge.

This tip comes all the way from my mum, who somehow had me cleaning skirting boards every Saturday as a kid because as the youngest I wasn’t as capable as my siblings at doing more complex tasks.

Every now and then when I want to engage my boys in chores I kick off a skirting board challenge.  You set it up as a competition, you give each of them some baby wipes and show them where to wipe. The child with the most dirt can be the ‘winner’.

My boys would raise up to me and delight in how dirty their baby wipe was and I would delight in the fact that not only were most skating boards getting clean but my kids were really enjoying feeling helpful and participating in maintaining our home.

I’m going to close my eyes and I bet you kids can’t….

Our children love to shock and surprise us.

They love to prove you wrong.

By closing your eyes and assuming “there's no way on earth your kids could possibly clean up these blocks” your children get the opportunity to shock you.

The important part in all of this is that you're having a lot of fun that when you do open your eyes and they have it shocked you that you get so shocked you fall on the ground and you need their help to get back up because you cannot believe that they were capable of what they have just achieved.

Yes they know you are joking. Sort of.

Talk in the dog’s voice

On any given day if I ask one of my younger two boys to feed the dog it can get met with either yes sure, or complete rejection. I never know what I'm going to get.

My youngest can be a hard nut to crack when it comes to chores. Resistance is his middle name in and so it's important to be creative and humorous in trying to get him on board and make sure he contributes at home. 

One of the best tricks I have is to walk over near him with the dog and say poppy wants to say something to you and then in my best ‘imitate the dog voice’ I say “ohhhhh…. I'm so hungry, will you feed me please Harry?”

My son will look directly at the dog as if she really did just say that he will laugh and say “come on poppy let's get you fed.”

When we engage fun and imagination kids can’t help but want to contribute.

Post it notes

Most of us tend to follow a to do list better if we have it written down.

When it comes to kids what we know is that they process things so much better when they have a visual reminder.

Whether you want your child to complete daily tasks or whether you have a weekend chore list that you'd like them to complete - the best way to ensure success is to write or draw it out.

With very young children you can use your drawing skills to draw out their jobs making it really simple and breaking down tasks visually.

Kids love taking things off just as much as we do and providing that extra support of a visual list really can help them stay on task

Water and weeds

Kids love to be outdoors, and they love anything to do with water.

Try these two:

Weeds: get everyone outside on the worst of the worst of afternoons when no one is happy and tell them we have a “weed emergency” and it needs all hands on deck to fight them.

Show them which ones are weeds and everything they pull one out tell them how relieved you are they are helping tackle this weed problem.

Engaging kids in a battle of the weeds may not have your garden looking as good as when a professional helps but it’s a great way to get everyone working as a team.

Water: Kids love water. Some of the best jobs for kids involve washing the windows, the shower screen, the car or the pool fence.

Give them a bucket or a squidge and teach them how to do it.

Kids can start helping with these tasks from a really young age and because there is minimal risk involved we can relax and consider it part learning, part fun, and part helping.


My final tip lies in remembering the order of the findings from the Harvard Study:

First, love. Second, work ethic.

First love. Because when we focus on anything without love and our relationship as the primary focus, we get nowhere, and we will always go better when we start with connection and love.



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