How parents are nudging kids to help with chores

Updated: 15 April, 2020 15:14 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi | Mumbai

From toddlers to teens, here's how parents are encouraging children to take up domestic tasks with minimum fuss

Vir lines up his trucks with green peas
Vir lines up his trucks with green peas

With the lockdown extended, and a long summer ahead of us, city parents are finding new and innovative ways to wean kids into helping with chores. "Most often, both parents are overworked — work from home without the aid of domestic help can get taxing. The trick is to make kids involved in your day-to-day chores, and to do it smartly to cause minimum fuss. Getting them involved in household work also helps them learn skills that are important for survival," says entrepreneur Priya Pangaonkar, mother to a three-year-old son.

Here's how parents are easing their kids into the importance of doing household chores.

Toddlers

Learning with activities
Pangaonkar's son Vir is an enthusiastic child, and it is a task to keep him still in one place for long. "There's also learning on my mind so I make sure that all the home chores I involve him in seem like playtime to him. I make him sort vegetables and arrange them in the refrigerator according to colour and size. While folding clothes, he arranges them colour-wise; while mixing and churning, I play his favourite nursery rhymes [only audio] and he does the task with more enthusiasm. After peeling peas, we load it in his toy truck and he drives it on the designated pathway to the refrigerator. All this makes him keen to do more," shares Dahisar-based Pangaonkar.

Promise of a playtime
Pangaonkar also rewards Vir with play time. "I explain to him that if he helps me, we can finish work faster and there would be more time to play his favourite game together. This bribe works all the time with children his age," she reveals.

Saachi helps out with chores
Saachi helps out with chores

Pre-teens

Earning badges
Vile Parle resident Uma Joshi's 10-year-old daughter Saachi Soumitra has been helping with cooking and cleaning and in return, they have been rewarding her for all completed tasks. "She dresses up as a girl scout to clean the furniture, and the adults in the house give her a badge for completing the task of dusting. She has been earning badges for every job in this manner — making rotis, ice-lollies and baking cakes too," adds Joshi.

Express yourself
Joshi encourages her daughter to write letters to fictional characters like Worried Wonda, Strong Steve and Plimpy Imps where she tells them about all the tasks she completed at home. Also, she writes letters to herself using her official name and pet name. "Saachi has been a fan of the Mr Men and Lil Miss Series by Roger Hargreaves from a young age, and the inspiration for these characters comes from there. She writes a blog that has her stories and poetry. I feel such outlets ensure she doesn't look at chores as tasks. That understanding is crucial for someone her age," believes Joshi.

Atharva cooks a meal
Atharva cooks a meal

Teens

Joint exercise
With older children, rewards don't necessarily work as much as emotions do. For instance Vile Parle-based Manasi Sakhalkar's 15-year-old son Atharva loves to cook and takes up cooking a meal on his own with occasional help from his 10-year-old sister Arya. "My kids are sensitive so they don't need any incentive. They realise that mom is tired, and so they do the dishes and fill water bottles, sweep and mop. They decide among themselves and take turns. Sometimes, they quarrel on who did more work but they settle eventually," she adds.

Co-working
Playdays are an interesting way of sharing the workload. Sakhalkar assigns days — like mother-daughter day or grandmother-grandson day — when they perform all the activities together. "We brush together, practise yoga, eat breakfast, prepare lunch, and do all chores, homework and eat meals together. Tomorrow is grandmother-granddaughter day, where Arya and my mother-in-law will take up tasks together," explains Sakhalkar.

Family bonding
In the Sakhalkar household, another fun task they all look forward to is their chat sessions at night. "In Marathi we call it, 'Aata gappa maraycha' (Let's talk). For this, we all help each other clean up the kitchen post dinner," says Sakhalkar.

Sibling help
Atharva also helps by taking up his sister's studies. "She is happier studying with him, and this ensures that they don't lose time while waiting for me to finish work," she signs off.

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First Published: 15 April, 2020 08:46 IST

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