Photo: Hero Images (Getty Images)
I know, chores are chores. But take it from Mary Poppins, the O.G. Supernanny: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” To save yourself from the drudgery of daily household maintenance, you must find that element.
With little kids, it shouldn’t be too difficult. They love games! And they love to help! This is a very promising scenario. Here are some ways to gamify chores with your family. Ready, set … clean!
Swiffer Ice Skating
Tape Swiffer cloths to the bottom of your kid’s feet and let them pretend to be the next Adam Rippon on your hardwood floor. (My friend Alicia says her mum used to let her “skate” with rags and Murphy’s Oil Soap mixed with water, but that was in the ’80s and “now I think we could have sued for child endangerment.”)
Jason Kottke of Kottke.org plays a form of Tetris in his head as he bags his groceries. “Getting all those different types of products — with their various shapes, sizes, weights, levels of fragility, temperatures — quickly into the least possible number of bags … quite pleasurable,” he writes. Kids can do this when placing pantry items or old toys into donation boxes.
Where’s the Magic Spot?
Brandy, a school teacher, plays a game with her students called Magic Spot: “Basically, I look around the room and pick something that needs to be done (straighten pillows, pick up stray Lego, garbage on the floor, straighten desks), and then I tell my students I have found the Magic Spot, but can’t tell them where it is. Then I give them three minutes to clean and fix everything around the room, trying to be the one who has ‘found the Magic Spot’ and fixed it. At the end of the three minutes, I make a big deal of announcing who found the Magic Spot. The winner gets a sticker or a piece of gum. My students are TEN and eat this up. (And now that I’m going to be a mum, you can bet your last dollar Magic Spot is going to be played at our house!)”
Super Crazy Cleaning Song
This is an easy one to do every day. You put on a fun, upbeat song and everyone has to clean as fast as they can for the song’s entirety. Remember to say, “It’s ‘Super Crazy Cleaning Song’ time!” You’ve got to sell it.
A Pinterest classic.
Photo: How Does She
1) Get some painter’s tape. 2) Use the tape to create a square or small shape on the floor — the “bullseye.” 3) Have your kid sweep as many crumbs as possible into the bullseye. Sit back in amazement.
“One Arm Is Broken”
Give your child a physical challenge. You can only clean with your left arm. You have to walk on your tippy-toes. You must fold all these shirts in the dark (if you have low standards for folding). Granted, this will make the chores take longer, but if you have the time, kids love overcoming the odds.
The Sport of Cleaning
Pretend your kid is in a cleaning sporting event, and you’re the commentator. “Right now, he’s putting away his socks. Look how he opens the drawer with precision. I hope he doesn’t drop any. He doesn’t! The crowd cheers! Woooo!”
Colour or Letter Scavenger Hunt
Pick a colour and have your kid pick up everything they can of that colour. Or choose a letter of the alphabet and do the same thing.
“I’m Looking for a Superhero Who Can Make All This Stuff on the Floor Invisible. Do You Know of One?”
That is all you have to say.