December 13, 2010

Tips for Reluctant Helpers

I'm really hoping that I am not the only one here with reluctant helpers.

It's not that my kids are bad, they are just VERY easily distracted... and they see house work for what it is (boring, tedious and never ending).

My children are all ages eight and under, so they have yet to learn that it is much easier to be peaceful and have fun in a clean house.  They also have yet to learn the art of multi-tasking (cleaning the living room while watching a movie)... also, they haven't learned yet to just do their work without gentle coaxing, reminding and outright nagging.

I have tried just about everything go get them to help (happily, I don't want grumpy helpers).  Chore charts, cards, allowances, punishments consequences.  Everything.  It.  Gets.  Old.  And nothing will ruin our school day then a messy house and frustrated mom.

Call me selfish, but I am just not willing to be the only one to ever do housework.  There is a whole big world out there and I would like to be able to experience it!

And yes, I know that you are supposed to start when they are young.  I tried... but usually it was just faster to do it myself.  I like speed.  It is no longer faster to do it myself.  They have somehow developed a system where they are able to increase the mess, regardless of how quickly I try to reduce it.

So anyway, I came upon a game by accident.  I like to call it "Helper Without a Song" (feel free to offer more clever names in the comments).  It's very simple.

Blast your stereo as loud as you can without damaging ear drums to some fun and fast songs.  Get your kids dancing along.  Once they have all been dancing for a while (this step is important, you want to establish a good mood and invite lots of energy) then stop the music, assign each child a small chore (something they can do in just a couple minutes and out of the way of each other) start a new fast song and challenge them to finish their job before the song is over.  If they finish quickly, they get to dance to the rest of the song and even through the next song).

I am amazed at how quickly we cleaned up our house and we were able to start our day without stress.

Which is, lately, unheard of.

Yay!  Any other tips to make the drudgery of housework fun?

Courtney is an overly scheduled, overly stressed, overly sleep deprived and overly blessed homeschooling mom.  She has been married to the greatest (and best looking) man for nine years and has loved every minute of it (almost).  Her husband recently joined the Air Force and so far, she is thoroughly enjoying the military life.  She has two girls, ages eight and six, and two boys ages three years and four months.  She is in her second year of homeschooling and has decided there is no way she is going back.  Courtney knows it is selfish of her, but she feels that her children are entirely too much fun for someone else to enjoy their company all day long while she can't.  Courtney apologizes if this post is long winded and rambling.  She tends to feel very passionately about things and has a hard time ever shutting up.  You can find more of her and her musings over at My Ordinary, Every Day, Happily Ever After.

5 comments - Add a comment below -:

shauna said...

What a great idea! I'm always looking for ideas for my reluctant helpers. I'm in the same boat as under eight who really don't want to help no matter what I do to encourage it.

Another idea I got was from the blog My Mix of Six. She assigns each of her children a room to be in charge of for the week. I started doing that last week and it works surprisingly well. The kids do the tidying up sort of jobs and I do the major cleaning jobs. (I made them little pockets with a laminated list that gets switched out each week for a new room.) I have to help out a lot still but I'm hoping that as they get used to it, they will be able to work more independently. I think we'll had some music this week and see if it speeds up the process!

Heather B said...

Oooh! I love this idea! Music is so powerful, I can totally see how this could work. We always blare the stereo on Saturdays when we do weekly chores, but I never thought of using it in this way. Thanks for sharing!

Anneke said...

Now that is something I can do! I've seen other tedious chore charts and know if I made them all the work to make them would be for nothing. But this just might do the trick.

Plain and Precious said...

My seven are ages 17 to 21 mo. We have tried many, MANY different things. We do have a weekly chore chart that we go by most of the time, but on those occasions when the house is overwhelmingly messy and no on wants to clean it up, we do "Basket Zooming". This started when the children were very small and it was too much for them to compute how and where and when to clean a very messy room. (This also started as a game.) So we got out a laundry basket, and chose a "ZOOMER." (one who pushes the basket) Then everyone (because it is way more fun and productive to work together) followed the zoomer and picked up as many things as they could find out of place and raced to throw them into the basket. In no time at all, the room or rooms were all clean! And all the "out of place" items were in one portable place.

Then, (and we did something different at different times according to the mood, ie. music, racing, treats after or a special game) we would either take the basket to a designated room and put away everything from the basket that belonged in that room then move to another room, or we had mom or dad sit next to the basket in the middle of the family room and give a different child an item to put away while commentating on the performance of each child in an encouraging and sports news caster way. This also helps the child not be overwhelmed because he only has to think of one item to put away at a time instead of a whole room full of misplaced items.

This is still my favorite way to get any room clean because you get immediate success and everyone is working together for a common good while having fun. (It also works great for teenager's rooms!)

Erin said...

My kids are all 10 and under, so still fairly young, and music is my best weapon too. We usually just put on something fun and turn it up loud, like the soundtrack to Disney's Tarzan or Seussical the Musical. I never thought of making into a reward game like that, though. I might just have to add that to my arsenal!