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How to make post-dinner chores fun

Christine Bryant is a freelance writer based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and daughter. She writes for SheKnows, as well as several other publications that include newspapers and magazines. She writes on topics such ...

Turn cleaning up after dinner into family fun

Everyone enjoys the meal, but rarely do you find family members jumping out of their seats to clean up afterward. Having trouble getting your family motivated for some post-dinner chores? Here are some ways you can turn work time into playtime.
Young girl washing dishes

Doing after-dinner chores doesn't have to be a dreaded experience, especially for the kids who have been assigned the chores and for the parents who have to fight tooth and nail to make sure the chores get done. Here are some tips to turn after-dinner chores into an opportunity for quality family time.

Add music

Music is the key to making any chore less dreary, so if you have something that needs to get done after dinner, turn on some tunes and turn up the volume, said Melissa Moraja, author and founder of Melissa Productions Inc.

"We always turn on upbeat hip-hop-type dance music when we have chores," the mother of four said. "It's the one thing that can make a not-so-fun thing fun for all."

Create a game

It's called "Turbo Dishes" at Robin Simpson's house. The family gets together, estimates how quickly they can get everything tidied up and then sets the timer.

"Because the kids are used to doing the dishes on their own, they're very happy when my husband and I get involved," said the former public school teacher and writer of the Frustrated Farmgirl blog. "When everyone is motivated and moving quickly, we can get everything done in less than 10 minutes — often less than five."

Throw in a movie night afterwards on Fridays, and it sweetens the deal even more, she said.

Bond

One way to make almost anything fun is to be involved in what your children are doing — even if it's chores — said Skipper Harvey, a clinical psychologist who works with children and families.

"Oftentimes, parents feel that after dinner is a great time to attend to other tasks while their kids clear the table, wash the dishes, wipe the counter, etc.," she said. "After all, a day in the life of a parent is usually pretty hectic, with more things on the to-do list than can possibly get done in a day."

Instead of leaving the kids alone, however, look at after-dinner chores as giving you time to hang out and talk with them, she advised.

"Tell jokes, ask trivia questions, use story starters or play guessing games," Harvey said. "Most likely, once kids know that this is a time to hang with their parents, they'll start coming up with some fun ideas, too."

Give choices

Everyone has a chore that he or she disdains and often avoids doing, whether it's doing the dishes, walking the dog or folding that day's laundry. One solution is to give your frustrated kids a choice of which chores they want to complete that evening.

To make sure no one gets stuck with the short straw — or the least favorite chore — each evening, take turns having first dibs on the chore list.

More chore article

20 Age-appropriate chores
Household chores: Are your kids doing enough?
How to make family chore lists

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