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How to make chores fun + joyful for your child

Turn them into ‘meaningful roles’ or ‘special jobs’!

How to make chores fun + joyful for your child

Chores are often thought of as tiring and tedious. They are seen as the duties one must complete before doing something that’s actually fun, like relaxing on the couch..


In fact, chores are good for kids! Research has found that giving children chores helps set them up for success in life. Using data collected over 25 years, Marty Rossman from the University of Mississippi found that children who had done chores since the age of three or four were more likely to be well-adjusted, have better relationships with friends and family, and be more successful in their careers.

Still, thinking of tasks as ‘chores’ can take the fun out of them. Do your chores! Did you do your chores yet? I expect you to do your chores! It sounds so negative, like a punishment akin to eating brussel sprouts or getting a shot at the doctor.

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Thinking about chores as ‘meaningful roles’ or ‘special jobs’ helps put the natural joy back into them.

Young kids tend to love jobs. While kids can learn to do tasks for themselves, such as clear their plates or get dressed, it’s also important for them to do jobs that help a collective. Children are naturally motivated by helping family members, friends, or even strangers. They love using their power and expertise in unique ways for the good of others.

Here are a few ways jobs are already naturally fun for young kids:

They love being of service to others

  • They could have the ‘job’ of wiping off wet slides at the park so other kids can use them.
  • They could be in charge of writing and coloring get well cards for friends who are sick.
  • To help the family, kids could match the family’s socks or put away the silverware (both of which help with pre-math sorting skills).
  • They could be in charge of wrapping all birthday presents or opening packages/boxes with their kiddie scissors (which strengthen fine motor skills).
  • They could put muffin cups in holders while baking, serve food with tongs, squirt ketchup for everyone, or squirt water on tables and scrub them (which improve fine motor skills or pincer grasp).

They like to move their bodies

Young children want to move it move it, and it's good for them. John Ratey, author of A User's Guide to the Brain, describes exercise as "Miracle-Gro for the brain."

Children enjoy shoveling snow, raking leaves, shoveling wood chips and vacuuming (all of which strengthen gross motor skills and build muscles). They like running laundry piles up to various rooms, sprinting to another part of an abode to fetch paper towels, or walking letters up to the mailbox.

Kids like to do things alongside their parents

When done during one-on-one special time with parents, many chores can take on deeper meaning and promote bonding and attachment. Washing the car with dad once a week, shopping with mom at the grocery store, or watering flowers with Grandma provide priceless opportunities for becoming even closer with important adults.

Kids like to have ownership, independence, and a sense of power

A need for power and control is one of four psychological human needs. Kids love to be ‘in charge.’

  • They could be the D.J., survey people for their favorite music, and choose a playlist for the family and for guests who come over.
  • They could have the job of greeting visitors and getting them a glass of water (which builds social/entertaining skills).
  • They could have the job of checking the weather in the morning and telling younger siblings to wear long sleeves/short sleeves, pants/shorts (which helps with science).

Here are a few more ways to put joy back in chores/jobs:

1. Bring fun add-ons

The smallest add-ons can make jobs way more fun. For example, if a kid's job is to wash windows, adding a small stepladder makes it more interesting. If their job is to clean up their toys, add some music. If their job is to write thank you cards, give them some stickers or stampers. If they are helping you at the hardware store, give them a clipboard with a checklist to mark things off when you get them.

2. Ask for their ideas

A key aspect of feeling like a job is engaged work (not grunt work) is if you’ve given some input. If it’s a kid’s job to decorate for a party, ask for their ideas—do they want to blow up balloons, hang streamers, make a lot of little signs or make one big banner? If they are going to help garden, what top two vegetables do they want to plant? Would they rather water them in the morning or before bed? If they are going to be the snack-packer for an outing, do they want apples or bananas?

3. Rotate

Having a rotating chart where kids do different jobs each week prevents boredom and disengagement. For example, they could switch off between setting the table, sweeping after dinner and clearing the table.

4. Thank and reinforce

Just like adults, kids appreciate being thanked. "Thanks for helping me bag up these leaves. The way you stomped them down helped us fit so many extra leaves in the bags," or, "Thanks for washing the dishes tonight. I didn't think you were going to get that goo off the frying pan, but your elbow grease really worked!"

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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