Children are naturals when it comes to making a mess, but when the stuff needs tidying up, they’re a lot less engaged. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make chores more appealing to the younger members of our families. From apps and websites to simple ways to reframe and redesign the ways your kids clean and tidy, there’s really no reason for their daily duties to be anything other than fun. (We should add that a lot of these apps and tricks are pretty fun for adults, too. Seriously, your colleagues are going to love Chore Wars.)
Some may seem like simple tricks—we’ve all used the “we’ll time you” trick before—but simple works, and the truth is that anything can be play. Yes, even work. We’ve just got to shift the way we look at it.
Here are 12 ways to use a bit of pocket change, old Halloween costumes, the Internet and your kid’s imagination to make household work into childhood play.
Trick your kids into being helpful with these chores disguised as games
The Call of DutiesChore Wars may be the most productive role-playing game out there. The app lets your kids pick their favourite character, from mop-wielding warriors to green recycling monsters, then join a Party with their household. Participants can then gain experience points for each task completed, and check must-do chores in the Adventure List.Chore Wars
Monster AccomplishmentsChore Monster will have your kids asking for more work. It allows parents to set up the chores, rewards and points, then gets the kids to do it all. Brother and sister do chores for points that they can cash in for real-life and digital rewards. Mum and Dad do less and get rid of all the “rewards" that were jammed in the back of the junk drawer.Chore Monster
Ready, Set, CleanIt's an old standby, and most kids will eventually get wise to it, but if you haven't employed it yet, you should have a couple freebies here with this method. When the little one starts to whine over the chore, tell them you'll time them and watch their simple little eyes light up. Run!Thinkstock
Musical MotivationSo you've used up the timer method. It happens. “But guess what kids, this cool new musical game, Lickety Split, is totally the most fun ever!" OK, so it's basically just the timer method but with an app that plays fun music in a building, beat-the-clock way. Use presets for things like brushing teeth, tidying up or getting dressed.Lickety Split
Whistle while you workAnother super-simple classic that can work wonders with younger children is singing a chore song. It can be one your parents sang with you, or one you make up on the spot—your two-year-old will think it sounds great either way. Music can be motivational. Use it.Thinkstock
Basketball LaundryWhen you're a kid, throwing stuff is fun for hours. And the little terrors (we love 'em) never have a problem chucking their toys all over the room—the trick is to get them to throw them back to their original spot. Put a little hoop over their toy bin or laundry bin and teach them how to slam dunk. Gosh, you sure are cool.Thinkstock
It's not a car wash, it's a spaceship detailing centreThe imagination is a powerful thing. It has the ability to transform cars into spaceships and, in the case of your dirty SUV, a chore involving hoses and brushes into a mission involving Plasma Blasters and Slime Wands. Flex your creative muscles and turn the tools for the task into the gear for the adventure.Thinkstock
Hidden TreasureFor kids too young for an allowance, a few hidden coins (aka treasure) may do the trick. Simply stash a few quarters under some of the larger items in the room you want them to clean and then send them out with instructions to dust/wipe/polish the surface where they find the coin to earn the treasure.Thinkstock
Gamify Your GoalsA fantasy video game that makes self development fun? We need this. Habatica seeks to gamify pretty much your entire life and helps you achieve your goals. Your kids might play to improve basic hygiene and pants folding. For you, it might be about reaching that next level in your career, or achieving a personal fitness goal.Habatica
How would a tiger pick up toys?Ridiculous headline, right? It's also ridiculous to put a blanket between two cushions and call it a castle, and your kid's been doing that all morning. So, when it comes time to put the castle back to a couch, ask how his favourite animal might perform the act and enjoy the most entertaining tidying ever. Face paint optional.Thinkstock
Sibling RivalryThere's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition around the home, among siblings or even the neighbourhood kids who hang around an awful lot. Put up a scoreboard with the current records for things like “Fastest Toy Pick-Up," “Most Consecutive Made Beds" or “Most Laundry Folded in Ten Minutes." Being on the board IS the reward.Thinkstock