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Stress-Free Chores

Blog

Stress-Free Chores

Pierre Séguin

It's awesome when kids are able and willing to take on some household responsibilities. They feel empowered and hey, we parents get a bit of help keeping things orderly.

At our house, we ration screen time pretty carefully so that's the reward currency. Right now, for instance, cleaning the bathroom earns Leo one hour of watching Minecraft videos on YouTube, or something like that. 

We've been discovering a few things that work for us and thought it might be helpful to share a few tips we've picked up along the way.

X Marks The Spot

Kids (especially the attention-challenged ones) aren't always great at noticing all the things that need to be cleaned. We've found that marking the spots with a whiteboard marker (smooth surfaces) or bits of colored tape (porous surfaces) helps make sure nothing gets missed.

Reframe Feedback in Positive Terms

I'm trying to break a bad habit of walking in after Leo says he's done and immediately pointing out all the stuff that still needs work. We get much better results (and less chance of a meltdown) if we say "Hey, you did a great job on X and Y. Did you also remember to do Z?"

Thoroughness Through Creativity

You may come up with your own methods (please share them in the comments!) but this one worked for us in improving the thoroughness and completeness of cleaning tasks.

take-the-stress-out-of-chores

In our case, Leo tended to use a lot of paper towels and throw them out before

  1. They were truly used up;
  2. The thing he's cleaning is actually clean.

At first, I was pointing at a toothpaste-smeared bathroom countertop and saying, "That's not clean, do it again." and Leo was all like, "What are you talking about!? This is taking forever!"

Then I tried this instead: I said "I'll bet I can get this paper towel dirtier than you can get that paper towel," and proceeded to demonstrate my technique on one side of the counter, then showed him my towel. This appealed to his competitive streak, and the next thing I knew, he was trying his darnedest to pick up every molecule of dirt with the least amount of paper wastage. Yeaaaaah.

Use a List with Steps

Kids often have trouble with general orders like "Clean the bathroom". They need it spelled out in finer-grained detail. You can use Brili for this, of course. But if it's a space like the bathroom where you don't want devices getting wet, you can also list out specific tasks (e.g. wipe sink, wipe faucet, wipe counter, etc.) by writing them with dry-erase whiteboard markers on the mirror.


Anyway, that's some of what we've come up with. We're pretty happy with the results so far. We'd love to hear your ideas and experiences too! Please leave a comment below!