mindful living, effortless style

This family habit is a great way to prevent holiday season entitlement in kids.

Preventing Entitlement: A Gratitude Chore Game

Bet you didn’t think the words “gratitude” “chore” and “game” really went together did you?  With all the holiday stuff I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about another word, one that can sometimes arise as a consequence of too much focus on the gifts: entitlement.

Also, I recently partnered with one of my favorite brands and our new sponsor, The Honest Company, to try out some of their cleaning products. Have you tried their stuff yet? I admit it took me a while to get on the bandwagon when it came to their cleaning supplies as I figured the all-natural, eco-friendly products would be pricey – I was pleasantly surprised to find out how wrong I was. My new bamboo dish brush with a pretty ceramic base is only $4.95!

So, somehow in my convoluted brain these two things became merged and I started to think about this discussion we had on mindfulness and daily chores as part of our virtual book club last year.

Do you remember discussing this quote?

Housework may be the best opportunity to practice being present.  If we choose, mindful house cleaning can be space away form the noise of our racing thoughts and feelings.  The back-and-forth motion of a broom creates a rhythm to focus on.  The act of preparing a meal invites all the senses to attention.

Whoa.  The idea of seeing housework as an opportunity for focus and calm – a gift even – in the midst of a busy day, that kinda turned my world on it’s head.

Actually getting myself to do this, though, seemed tough.  Then, as I often do when thinking about habits I wish I had, I started thinking about the best way to instill this habit in my kids… And that seemed even more tough.

“You should be happy you have a bed to make” is kind of along the same lines as, “Eat your food – there are children starving in Africa.” Good in theory but did that line really ever make anyone more grateful?

Nevertheless, the tactic was worth pondering. Not only because a new, more grateful, attitude would make us all happier folks, but also because what’s the opposite of entitlement? Work ethic.

And then it came to me. Do what I always do when trying to get the kids to do something they may not want to – turn it into a game. If you’re still having our doubts about all this, don’t worry, I’ve broken it all into a simple 3 step plan. Ready?

Step 1: Sit Down with the Kids & Identify Their Jobs

Get your kids engaged in this idea from the start by asking them to collaborate with you on a list of jobs they can accomplish around the house.  Need help?  Here are some suggestions broken down by age:

Housekeeping chores for children ages 2+

  • Put toys away
  • Fill pet’s food dish
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Dust
  • Pile books and magazines

Housekeeping chores for children ages 4+

  • Make their bed
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Sweep floors
  • Sort laundry (match socks)
  • Unload utensils from dishwasher
  • Water flowers

Housekeeping chores for children ages 6+

  • Put away own laundry
  • Wipe down counters and sinks
  • Vacuum
  • Weed and rake leaves

Housekeeping chores for children ages 8+

  • Fold clothes
  • Load dishwasher
  • Take out the trash
  • Mop floor
  • Clean the shower/tub

Housekeeping chores for children ages 10 and older.

  • Unload dishwasher
  • Fold laundry
  • Clean bathroom
  • Wash windows
  • Iron clothes
  • Do laundry
  • Clean kitchen
  • Change their bed sheets

love these ideas on making pretty cleaning kids for the bathrooms & kitchen or one for mom and one for the kiddos.

Step 2: Make Some Fun Props

I’m not completely delusional here – I realize that it’s going to take a little more than wishful thinking to get kids excited and even thankful about doing chores.

Take a special trip to the store and once again enlist the kids’ help, this time to put together some special cleaning kits, either for each room or for each family member. Little kids will especially enjoy making a miniature version of Mom’s kit as shown above.

This may seem a little unnecessary and not really inline with the anti-materialism theme we’re going for but it will help reinforce to both you and the kids that this new positive family attitude is sticking around every time you see your shiny kits.  Plus, we’re only human. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you like a pretty dish rag or a brightly colored basket – these things, too, can be something to be thankful for.

Step 3: Play the “Thankful for Chores” Game

Is this going to be a little unnatural and awkward at first? Yep… Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Now that you have your tasks and supplies, it’s time to change the way your family tackles chores. The approach will vary some based on the age of your kids, the younger they are the sillier you can be, but the idea here is to make chores more enjoyable.  Here’s some tips.

Do them together.

You don’t always have to do chores as a family. But picking a time to do them side-by-side will give you a chance to model, model, model a new thankful attitude and to get the kids in the habit of playing the game.

Challenge each other to always find something to be thankful for in your duties.

Use your shiny new kits or start off with something a little silly, “I’m thankful for the guy who invented the mop so I don’t have to scrub the entire floor on my hands and knees”.

Take turns naming things and make it into a game, injecting both off-the-wall and serious thoughts. How many reasons can you think of to be grateful? Go back and forth between family members, trying to top each other. “I do not love cleaning floors, but I’m thankful…

  • “…my dog is a living vacuum cleaner so I don’t have to sweep before mopping”
  • “…the baby got over his ‘throwing all his food on the ground’ phase”
  • “…I have strong hands to do it”

One of the biggest lessons we’re teaching our children here is that not every moment in life is about self-gratification.  It’s ok to just be in the moment without spending the whole time thinking about how long it will be until you get to do something you enjoy more.

Acknowledge that no one likes doing some things – in fact, go over the top.

Every time you start a particularly horrible chore, huff and puff – sigh and moan – use your silliest, most overly dramatic voice and declare, “I do not love cleaning the toilets, but I’m thankful for the long handle on the toilet brush.”

Honest company bamboo and ceramic dish brush - so pretty and under 5 bucks!

Lead by example.

It’s great to approach this as a game and go over the top to get the kids involved. But it’s also a good idea to sometimes lead by a quieter example. Mention to your daughter that it makes you smile every time you use your pretty bamboo dish brush instead of the moldy old plastic one you used to have.

Comment on the fact that it’s nice (and relatively new) to have affordable non-toxic cleaning options readily available.  Or that you like being able to support businesses that give back (The Honest Company donates essential baby clothing and gear to families in need every time you buy from them).  Or just that the clean design and pretty flowers on the bottles make you happy. Again, every thought doesn’t have to be profound.  It’s ok to be thankful for pretty stuff too.

What do you think? Does this sound doable? I know it will take some practice, and probably some modification for older kids – but isn’t the pay-off worth it?

Question of the Day

How do you combat entitlement and incorporate thankfulness into your day with the kids?

UPDATE: If you like this idea, then you’re going LOVE our brand new…

Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kits!

This kit has made a huge impact on our morning and bedtimes routines plus my kids have learned so much about money management.

Morning and Evening Routine Charts, Spend/Save/Share Banks Labels, Allowance Ledgers, Family Job Worksheets, Money Job Worksheets and more!

I’m so excited about this – hope your family will love it as much as ours does!! Check out all the goods here.

 

line-graphic


P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and connect with your family?



Special holiday offer!
 

line-graphic


MPMK's Famous Toy Gift Guides

line-graphic


POYEL ebook and printables

line-graphic


sign up for the newsletter and get a free 6 week meal plan
 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Brienne November 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm

This is brilliant! And so timely. I despise the nagging but really want the kids to help because I want them to be able to take care of themselves and of their environment. We don’t practice entitlement/punishment/rewards/threats and I used to do a ready set go game to get the kids to bring items to the correct places. They will love this, though, and it gives us way more flexibility. Thanks for the great idea!

Reply

Steph (MPMK Founder) November 14, 2013 at 3:11 am

“I despise the nagging but really want the kids to help because I want them to be able to take care of themselves and of their environment.” – exactly how I feel too Brienne. I really hope these ideas work for your family :)

Reply

Jessica November 14, 2013 at 1:12 am

I absolutely love this post. I was inspired by the book club choice a while back and am even more inspired now to start implementing this game with my kids. Because chores sometimes seem like work to me, I don’t always involve my (young) kids in the cleaning. But its important for so many reasons! Thanks :)

Reply

Steph (MPMK Founder) November 14, 2013 at 3:13 am

I totally agree with you Jessica that sometimes it feels easier to just get it done myself. Hopefully this new practice will make all that time we have to spend cleaning more positive for both our kids and ourselves.

Reply

Kat November 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Perfect post! I love these ideas… This time of year is the perfect time to implement something like this. Thanks Steph!

Reply

Steph (MPMK Founder) November 14, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Let me know how it goes Kat :)

Reply

Beth November 16, 2013 at 9:30 am

Thank you! My boys have heard from their friends that housework is “girl work” and it has been hard to get them to regularly help around the house without constant nagging and reminders. Maybe this new approach will help turn it around. If nothing else, it will certainly make me feel less stressed while folding all that laundry (my least favorite chore:)

Reply

Amy November 17, 2013 at 4:07 am

I would love to hear others ideas for older kids… I have 3 kids, ds 13, ds 11 & dd 4. It’s like pulling teeth to get my boys to do their chores. I’m so frustrated with it, but little kid stuff doesn’t work on them any more :(

Reply

Christy November 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I absolutely love this idea and want to begin putting it to practice this week.

Your blog is one of my favorites for its wonderful ideas, clean design, and restful tone. I come away inspired.

Reply

Steph (MPMK Founder) November 18, 2013 at 2:46 am

Thank you so much Christy – you made my day :)

Reply

Brittany November 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Thanks for this information. It’s so important for kids to learn to help around the house. My 2 year old loves to put the dishes away from the dishwasher and even gets mad if I do it without him. I guess that emptying the dishwasher isn’t on this list for 2 year olds since he can’t quite reach all the places that they need to be put away. It does require supervision and help, but I know he feels good about himself after helping out.

Reply

Heather C February 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I love the red baskets! Where did you find those? :)

Reply

Steph (MPMK Founder) February 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Aren’t they cute? Found ‘em at Target.

Reply

Heather C February 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm

thanks :)

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }