Family chores? Use Pomodoro method to make it fun
When you think about chores, fun is not the first word that comes to mind. But no matter how you feel about them, you kinda need to get them done, because your chores are the only things that stand between you and the total loss of human dignity. Because you really are better than your mess.
And, if you’re a mom or dad, the one thing that’s more depressing than mustering up the motivation to tackle those chores is to try to inspire your kids to get involved. And it’s not even that your kids are wrong. Play is more fun than chores, right?
So, why not turn choretime into playtime? The trick is to reframe how you tackle your tasks, and the Pomodoro method can help.
The Pomodoro method is a way of getting stuff done by chunking up tasks into timed sprints. It’s an against-the-clock race that emphasizes three things – focus, reward, and time management. You focus on one task (or part of a task) for a set amount of time and when the sprint is over, you take a break or another kind of reward. Works for adults, and for kids, too!
Sometimes it’s a question of reframing how you ask your kid to do something. Instead of telling them, “Clean your room until it’s done,” keep it light. Try suggesting that they clean their room for only twenty minutes only – no more and no less – before a well-earned break. Realistically, your kids are going to take breaks anyways. Everyone can benefit by setting a schedule upfront.
And, why not make it a team effort? If it’s a game that you’re both playing, chores are much more fun. Try saying something like, “OK, we’ve got twenty minutes. You’re gonna clean up as much of your room as possible and I’m gonna sort my desk out. We’ll meet in the kitchen for a cookie when the buzzer pings. Ready, steady, go!” Make it even more fun by:
Blasting some feel good music (mind your neighbours) while you’re on your sprint and taking it in turns to choose the music.
Inspecting each others’ work, and giving lots of praise.
Taking it in turns to choose a reward for finishing a set of sprints.
Having a dance or online game break between sprints.
Teaming up with your children to knock out some chores while having fun counts as quality time, btw.
Does this work with the tinies?
Even if your child is very young, there are age-appropriate chores that you can encourage them to try their teeny hands at. Little kids love to help their parents, and love to try out new things, so they haven’t yet got the idea that chores are often viewed as boring, annoying and no fun at all. Don’t feel guilty about taking advantage of this because it’s all learning for them and, if you have fun together, what’s not to love?
Children and structure
Children like to have structure in their lives and Pomodoro-ing can be a great way to build it. It’s also a good habit: if they pick up the Pomodoro habit they’ll build some effective time management strategies that they can take use within their academic lives and careers, far beyond picking up their toys. Pomodoro works for all ages.
Tweaking the Pomodoro
Depending on your child’s age, you may have to alter your approach. You’ll know that your youngest child has a much smaller attention span than your older ones. While your teenager can focus on a task for 20 minutes, you can’t expect that from a five year old. Test it out and see what works best for you and your kids.
Reframe your language
As we mentioned above (remember?), a lot of reframing relates to the language you use. Simple things can make all the difference in how your child reacts. Try;
- Emphasising the reward.
- Downplaying the amount of time they need to focus. Say “Only 20 minutes “instead of “20 minutes”.
- Give your child a choice of options, to make them feel in control. Say “Would you rather wash the dishes first or clean your room?” Rather assigning them the chores without any consultation. You like having a choice, don’t you? What makes your child different?
- Being encouraging. If you child seems restless, reassure them that they don’t have to focus for much longer.
- Praising them. If they are game for the Pomodoro game, praise them. When they finish their sprint, give them more praise. Who doesn’t like praise, if it’s genuine?
The Pomodoro method is a good basis for creating games that get stuff done. Try it out and let us know how you get on!