Editor’s note: This post was updated on April 27, 2021.
It’s spring cleaning time; wouldn’t it be nice to have some help? Around the house or in the yard, an extra hand or two can go a long way. We know it sounds impossible, but you can get your kids wanting to help. And while they clean, they can also be developing skills that will help them be more active. With some imagination and a keen eye for opportunity, the most basic house chores can become fun games for kids.
It’s universally known that folding laundry is (usually) not fun. Missing socks, shrunken sweaters—a lot can happen between the dryer and the drawer. While we can’t solve the mystery of the missing sock, we can turn the chore into a sort of basketball, which is where the help comes in. Have your kids sort and match pairs of socks while you position the laundry basket at different distances. Whether they shoot over-hand from “downtown” or opt for an underhand lay-up, throwing accuracy and distance evolves with practice and as your kids grow.
Monkey make the bed
The popular nursery rhyme admonishes, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed!” but we think it’s time for an update. Jumping is a fundamental movement skill and is also lots of fun. For an energizing start to the day and a new way to encourage making the bed, ask your child to choose their favourite song, get up from under the covers, and jump until the final beat. For safety’s sake, we think one (supervised) monkey per bed is a good idea. When the song is over have your little one make the bed in preparation for a new day. Tomorrow they can jump all over again!
The push-pull family challenge
Although pushing and pulling are not considered “primary” skills, they are movements that are part of most sports we play. And they’re simple to incorporate into everyday life. Standard household chores like vacuuming, walking the dog, raking leaves, and even cutting the grass for older kids all help to develop push-pull movements. Challenge your kids to make these not-so-fun chores a game by providing some rewards. For example, whoever walks the dog most at the end of the week gets to choose a family activity for the weekend. Or the person who vacuums that week gets to choose dinner on Friday night.
Something most parents can relate to is a child with a messy bedroom. Cleaning up a cluttered carpet can be a constant battle but an important habit to create during childhood. In fact, just the act of picking things up—be it clothes, toys, or books—helps children develop coordination and dynamic balance. This is another good reason not to do the tidying for them. Next time your little one’s bedroom or toy area becomes a disaster zone, try using literacy to develop physical literacy. Encourage your child to choose a book and begin reading the story to them while they clean up. Finish the story or continue on to the next chapter when the room is tidy. By the end of the story, you’ll both appreciate the company… and the view.
It’s time to have some good, clean fun! Let us know what your kids think of these active chores, or if they even feel like chores at all. Your house will be tidier, your kids will move better, and what could be better than that?