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8 Ways to Get Kids to Help with Chores

It's time for spring cleaning! Here's how to get your kids on board with helping around the house

By Jennifer Hill, publisher of Macaroni Kid Fremont, Calif. March 4, 2020

With spring in the air, I'm thinking about spring cleaning -- which is always much easier when the kids are on board too! 

It turns out there are lots of things our kids can help with around the house -- even our littlest ones can help with things like picking up toys, matching socks, and making their bed. 

I created a printable chart to help you determine age-appropriate chores for kids. Of course, every child is different, but these are generally good guidelines to follow:

But how do you convince kids to willingly help with chores? That can be the real challenge -- but when you're successful, cleaning together can actually be fun!

Here are eight steps to get kids on board with cleaning:

1. Introduce kids to a new chore by doing it alongside them at first 

That way you can show them how to do it, and the order in which you like it done. It works: my kids might not clean the bathroom perfectly, but they do a pretty good job!

2. Start them young!

While it's never too late to get the kids involved in helping take care of themselves and their home, the younger your children are when you start giving them the opportunity to help out, the better! 

3. Make chore time a time together

For instance, ask your kids to fold the washcloths and hand towels while you fold the larger towels and sheets. If they're younger, they might not do it perfectly -- and that's OK! The idea is just to get them used to the everyday chores that need to be done ... and they'll love the extra time with you! 

4. Let them decide what chores they want to do

Sit down with your kids and a list of tasks that need to be accomplished and ask them which ones they want to do. Help them make their own list and show them how to cross items off when they're done. 

5. Make it a game!

Turn chore time into a game or a challenge to keep the kids engaged and involved! Set a timer and play "beat the clock" to finish specific tasks. Or try a favorite of my kids and write each job on a strip of paper, fold in half, and add to a little container. Each child pulls out a job at random and then races to finish it before their sibling is done or the timer has gone off. 

6. Reward them

Sometimes I let them know there is a reward once we complete the tasks for the day. Maybe it's a playdate with our friends, or we can bake cookies together, or make some slime or playdough, or play a game together. Older kids might appreciate an allowance, a movie night, or extra screen time. It's easy to think of something that will motivate your kids to get moving.

7. Play to your child's strengths and interests

My 10-year old loves organizing. I mean LOVES it! She has asked me, totally out of the blue, if she can organize the pantry. I never say no! I let her go with it even if it means I may need to stay nearby. I encourage her to use her love of organizing to help her little brother organize his toys and clothing too. She usually doesn't mind helping him out because she really loves organizing. What strengths or interests does your child have that you can use to your tidiness advantage?  

8. Be patient

Getting the kids involved with chores might take patience and make chores you typically whiz through take a little longer, but don't give up! The outcome is worth it: you're raising children who are responsible for themselves and can take care of their living space. You certainly won't regret it! 

Jennifer Hill is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Fremont, Calif.