Daily life can be such a drag, so blah. The chores can be tedious. The drive to work, dull.
Some days can be reduced to scrub, swipe, fold, wash, rinse, repeat; others, to conquering an overwhelming to-do list or in-box.
One way to approach the daily grind is simply to take a deep breath and dig in, applying self-discipline, determination, willpower, and grit. That’ll get you going…and it’s often what sees us through to the end, to completion. Grit is good. As Winston Churchill might remind us, “Never, never, never give up.”
But along the way, while swishing, sweeping, scrubbing and sorting, why not look for ways to have fun with chores? Why not lighten up our everyday tasks?
The kids can benefit, too.
Now, don’t get me wrong: They need to learn to tap into that, “I don’t want to do this, but I’ll do it anyway” spot to accomplish goals. They need to know that life isn’t all X-Box games and online chats. When they are given a list of things to do, they need to just do it.
But some things can be done…while having a little fun.
We can all use some ways to lighten up and have fun with chores.
1. Mary Poppins: My son had dumped an enormous box of oversized Lego building blocks all over the floor this week. He built tall towers and buildings and smashed trucks through them—they were very fun. But when it came time to pick them up, he stared with despair at so many blocks. How would he ever get them put away? Then I had a Mary Poppins moment when I envisioned some creative cleanup. I went to the garage and pulled out his child-sized plastic snow shovel. “Look! You can shovel them into the storage tub!” Suddenly, it was hilarious to be shoveling toys, and the job was done in no time.
2. Music: You probably do this already, don’t you? Put on music that makes you smile, laugh, sing, or dance. It makes everyday chores more enjoyable. Let the kids turn on something fun for themselves as they sift through the clothes in their room.
3. Blog Fodder: Imagine creative ways to spin your boring, tedious task-of-the-day on the blog when you’re done. Amuse us all with your creative phrasing. Amuse yourself as you compose it in your head.
4. Fartlek: I promise you this doesn’t mean what you think it means. The term “fartlek” is a Swedish term that means “speed play,” and runners use it to describe a training run when they insert some random bursts of speed into an otherwise steady pace. They may decide to sprint hard from a mailbox to a stop sign and then return to a jog. It’s a way to vary pace and insert a little game into a run. Why not transfer this principle to our chores or tasks? See if you can pick up the pace while mopping one area of a big room—from the stove to the cabinets, mop with more energy and speed. Then feel free to drop back to a steady pace. Pick it up on one of the bathrooms and then ease up when you get to the landing. You get the idea. Play a speed game. Fartlek. [Insert offensive sound effects and junior high giggles.]
5. Work for the Carrot: Come up with small pleasures to enjoy upon completion of various tasks—after cleaning the fridge, have a healthy snack. When you finish straightening the closet, read a chapter in whatever novel you’re reading. Not only will the reward itself be fun, but the thought of the reward will bring some fun to your work.
6. Before & After Photos: Document your work—take digital photos of the messy desk before you sort, file and straighten, and after you finish. Compare. Smile. Be proud. Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come and what a difference my work has made. That’s fun to look back on.
7. Many Hands Make Light—and fun—Work: Involve more people. While you’re at it, combine these ideas, too. Ask the kids to join you in some speed games or have them select the music, and when you’re done with a task, offer a simple reward (see #5)—a freezer pop for everyone, or a marshmallow if they’re easy-to-please. For a huge task, invite friends to help you out…and offer to assist them with a task of similar magnitude. Document it with fun photos posing next to the project before and after. You know, now that I mentioned it, does anyone want to come over and help sling mulch next week? Paint the bathroom?
Our world seems obsessed with fun, but in our pursuit of big fun like a beach vacation, we could risk resenting the everyday obligations. Instead of looking only to the big fun, the expensive and involved fun, try injecting a little everyday fun into your life. Your kids will see that life doesn’t have to be dull and boring—that X-Box isn’t the only fun to be had.
If nothing else, teach your kids the word “fartlek” and use it a lot today in conversations.
I’d almost guarantee it’s good for a few fun moments.