“No way, Mom! I am not going to clean that!”, “Please, Dad! Throwing the garbage out? I can’t!”. These are the common excuses that are generally heard by the parents. Most families struggle with this dilemma. Cleaning the room, mopping the floor, drying the dishes, feeding the pets, preparing meals, vacuuming are some things that are not preferred by kids most of the time.
What concerns the parents most is can their kids really enjoy doing chores? How to make chores fun and effective for your kids?
First and foremost, parents need to teach them the importance of chores. Until and unless kids understand the worth of household jobs, they will never enjoy it. The pride from washing dishes, or the fun in cleaning your room, for instance. Tell them, they are responsible for their own belongings. Instead of pushing them or burdening them with your statements, explain with interest how much they are going to enjoy it. If the values of taking care of the household are instilled from the very beginning in kids, it will help them in finding success in the future. Don’t just order them to clean their rooms or to water the plants. Be smart and try to play with words. They should not find it to be a workload, rather they should consider it as one of their games. Whatever task you will assign them, they will accept it happily. Take help from your partners, involve them in the household work to set an example for the kids.
What parents generally do is, they ask their kids to carry out a certain task. They plan out a strict routine on their own and ask kids to abide by it. This is where most of them lack! Kids are not meant for individual tasks. They are attention seekers and want their parents to notice them. Mr. Singhal once told my mom that her daughter remains active in front of him and denies fun activities in his absence.
It’s simple. Take help from your kids, figure out a schedule, and follow it. But remember, if your kids have to start from scratch, give them some time to adapt. With each day passing by they are going to spend more time helping you out. Don’t miss out on anything on the schedule for the current day. Actively participate along with them. Brief them before starting a particular task. Show them a demo and then only hand over the reins to them. Sometimes they may take extra time or ruin things. It’s okay! Tell them, “It’s fine if you spill water here. Come let’s sit together and have fun with water. Later we will clean it. Okay?” this kills two birds with one stone: Fun along with task completion. When you sit with them, ask about their experience, figure out the next days’ time table, and repeat it. Don’t give them a fixed task, allot a variety of tasks. This won’t make chores seem mundane.
Ask your kids to do chores not just for the sake of doing it but for gaining experience. Try to make it fun every time. Competition rather than a punishment. Use different tactics to get your kids to do a task. “Can you please help me out in throwing this garbage? It’s very heavy! I can’t lift it.” for instance. They feel proud and accept it as a challenge. But most parents generally try to bribe their kids when getting them to do household work. Bribing can be bad at times. Instead of using a materialistic approach, reward them with values and morals. “If you finish this work on time, you will get extra time to play with your friends”; “If you want to dance with your Dad, clean your room with your superpowers.” This will motivate them to buckle up and perform the task with zeal and enthusiasm. Kids like challenges and not orders. Appreciate your kids if they perform excellently, but do not over pamper them. Show creativity in every work. Laugh at their nuisances, involve other family members as well, and complete the chores without delay.
Why are women responsible for handling daily chores? Is it penned down in some books that it’s meant for females only? No! Still in the majority of Indian houses, the household tasks fall upon the shoulders of the female members. It’s sad to admit, but the fact is some of the females also feel the same. False gender beliefs are responsible for this mentality. Being technologically advanced is not enough; our mindset also needs to be updated with new sets of beliefs. Household chores are meant to be shared as a responsibility and not dumped on someone by looking at their gender. In India, women spend nearly 400 minutes per day on domestic work as compared to nearly 50 minutes spent by men. But the question is who is to be blamed for this? It’s us! We need to understand that unpaid work is not crummy or inferior. Once we shed this thinking, things will become easier.
The conduct of kids is influenced by their atmosphere. They believe and follow things that happen around them. Daily chores are generally looked down upon by males. They believe in male domination and consider earning as their sole responsibility towards their family, leaving all parenting and household work for females. This leads to an unpleasant influence on the kids. They start thinking in a similar way; all earning is done by Dad and taking care of the family is chosen by Mom! This is the reason most kids refuse and rebel when asked to help in daily chores. It is because they think they are being told to do a task that is not meant to be done by them. Kids are reluctant to accept changes. Therefore, it becomes the job of parents to remain gender-neutral in terms of task distribution.
Parents need a helping hand to wrap up daily work and errands so that they can get some time for themselves. The challenge for them is to get their children to help as well as make chores a positive part of their life. Equal division of household work won’t be a frustration for anyone. All you need to do is establish a regular schedule, make it a part of your kid’s life, have a healthy competition, and enjoy watching your kids learn new tricks and excel in life.