Don’t Scold Your Kids into Doing Chores — Use These Videos to Inspire Them

Source: Benjamin Davies, Unsplash.com

It all started one Saturday morning. It was chore time, and Mom was out of the house for the day.

No this is not the start of Cat in the Hat. A few minor details are different here: Dad’s home with 6 kids age 13 and under; Saturday chores need to get done; kids are not motivated to get them done on their own; Dad would not like to spend all day convincing kids to do chores.

What’s a Dad to do?

I’ve done lots of things to motivate my kids (see how Zelda saved me in the past). However, I wanted to try something a little different this time. Could I inspire them to do their chores?

A tall order for Dad. But, fortunately I had YouTube to help.

Film 1: Make Your Bed Every Day

If you haven’t read Admiral William McRaven’s commencement speech “Make Your Bed,” I’d recommend you read it. Admiral McRaven speaks at a commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014 inspiring the graduates with lessons he’s learned from his Navy SEAL service.

I showed this video clip of his speech to my kids. It was 2 minutes long. It had video of a Navy SEAL training activities with a voiceover of Admiral McRaven’s speech about the power of making your bed first thing in the morning.

At the end of the video, I asked my kids to run up and make their beds. They went and did it without hesitation and in record time. Perhaps they were motivated and inspired to start their day right. Perhaps they were worried we’d be doing pushups in cold water next. Either way, they got it done.

Film 2: Get Dressed Like A Firefighter

For a few of my kids, getting dressed in the morning is part of their routine. For some of the others, there seems to be no worse punishment than having to get out of PJs on Saturday morning and wear real clothes. It’s something of a barrier.

I recalled my college days living with my cousin roommate who was going to firefighter school. He had to practice putting all his gear on in 30 seconds or less. If only he could demonstrate for my kids…

Unfortunately, he was not close by to demonstrate.

Fortunately, I found a firefighter kind enough to video himself throwing on his gear in less than 30 seconds.

And if that guy can put on heavy, scratchy pants, a fire-proof coat, a helmet, and a breathing mask in 30 seconds, getting dressed in a T-shirt and stretchy pants didn’t seem too bad to my kids. Just the inspiration they needed to get the job done!

Film 3: Dangerous Jobs

The next step was to get our Saturday Chores done. Each child had a different set of chores assigned for that Saturday. Of course, no one wanted to do their particular jobs.

While I could remind them of the relative ease of their responsibilities compared to my responsibilities, I didn’t see that as being very inspiring to them. I think I had already used up all the inspiration on that theme in the past.

However, their are some people out there that have some quite dangerous jobs. You can find a variety of videos on the topic.

One video I found was on GW Bridge Painters. After hearing guys talk about walking on a slippery metal cable trying to do some painting hundreds of feet in the air, vacuuming the living room didn’t sound so bad.

I’m not sure if my kids felt inspired to do their jobs, or were just interested to see what the next video was, but either way, they did the work quickly.

Film 4: Dangerous Pets

We have two pet rabbits. Our two oldest kids own them and have the responsibility to feed them, give them water, and *gasp* clean their cage. The cage cleaning is not a coveted task on a Saturday morning.

Just to put things in perspective, we watched a YouTube video on cleaning a tiger cage. Nothing like watching a guy pick the bones out of a tiger cage to make cleaning the bunny cage seem like a breeze. And excepting the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, it’s hard to imagine finding mortal peril in entering the rabbit abode.

Film 5: Clean Your Room Fast

The last task of the morning was cleaning bedrooms. Some of our kids are better than others at keeping their rooms clean. It’s not that the less tidy ones don’t want a clean room, it’s just that, well, about everything else seems far more interesting than cleaning up a room.

We watched this video which promised to help you clean your room fast. I’m not sure it fit my definition of fast, but it did inspire my kids. I think the messy before and clean after video shots provided some inspiration. Breaking the cleaning process down into easy steps was also helpful.

My only mistake with this video is that I didn’t show this one last. It was in the middle of our chore routine, and my kids with the messy room got so involved with tidying and organizing that I had to have them pause to get the other jobs done. If I had saved for last, they might have continued to tidy for hours…

What’s Next?

Try these videos out for your next session of family chores. While I provide example videos in this article, a quick YouTube search will pull up the exact type of video your kids will need.

As parents we often try to get our kids to balance screen use with other activities. However, I always find it’s a big win when I can use digital media to help make my kids better in the non-digital world.

Good luck, and happy chores!

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PhD Chemist, father of six kids, and local bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.