Reader Hint – Getting Kids to Do Chores

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A reader sent this in last newsletter. It makes me want to go do chores with her!

I wanted to throw something out there for working moms who feel like they’re always picking up “everyday clutter” constantly, and have a hard time staying organized and caught up.

I have two children, ages 8 and 14, with ADD (one inattentive, one hyperactive). I have found that when I say, “clean your room, and help pick up the house”, I don’t always get a good response, at least not to my satisfaction. Being a working mom, I have had to let go of having the show-room look, but I do like to keep things picked up. So, about once a week, after dinner, I say, “alright, everyone … it’s time to play WHAT’S NEXT?!” At first I get groans, and sighs, but they get into the “game” pretty quickly. Here’s what we do. We start at one end of the house, and I literally hand out commands, left and right, such as “Go empty this trash can, and bring back a new trash bag with it”, “Grab the broom for me”, “go put the Rainbow vacuum together for me, including water in the bowl”, “take this laundry to the laundry room”, “go put this hairbrush in the bathroom drawer (not sure why it’s in the middle of the living room)”, “pick up all the little air-soft gun BB’s in this room”, etc.

While they’re “gone”, I wipe down cabinets and mirrors, vacuum that room, dust, etc. , always looking for what they can do as soon as they get back, sometimes looking into the next room, so that no time is wasted. The goal is for them to run do the task, and come back and say, “WHAT NEXT!?” Of course, it turns into a contest for who can run do their task, and make it back before the other one.

It turns into a lot of fun, and the whole house gets clean, except for the mopping and laundry, which I’m glad to do, since my whole house just got a good basic cleaning in less than an hour or so. Oh yes, and each time, I add “wipe down the base boards”, “dust the blinds”, and/or “dust the ceiling fans” (well, I do this last one) on just one room in the house, so that all of these things get a once-over every few weeks. They also get the benefit of having help with the basics of their own room (especially the 8-year-old), since we’re all working together, helping each other. For anyone with more than one child, anyway, this is a great way to get a lot done, very quickly, without having to spend a whole weekend cleaning.

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About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

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