Many people think that being active and healthy means having a rigorous exercise schedule and looking like Mr. or Ms. Universe. It doesn’t really have to be so rigid. You can actually stay active and healthy, along with your whole family, by creating situations where you can work and play together. I don’t mean work as employment, but rather work as housework.
Moms are the first victims of housework that is left unfinished, such as laundry, picking up and cleaning up. Then, there’s cooking and shopping, too.
Here are a few tips on how to keep everyone active, healthy, and involved in doing chores and staying healthy while having fun.
Separate clean-up chores into little games: Toss the toys in the box; King’s Wish for laundry; Hunt for the missing socks; Where’s the dust; Who moved my bed?; Iron Chef home version; Laundry color match; and Grocery Store treasure hunt.
Toss the toys in the box: For this skill-testing event, test everyone’s aim by having them find all the toys all over the house where they shouldn’t be and toss them in the toy box or basket from the doorway to wherever toys are kept. Make sure the box or basket is all the way in the far corner of the room. You can add a hula hoop over the box to add to the challenge. Not only will this get everyone running all over the place and provide a bit of stretching, bending, aiming and throwing, but kids who have delicate toys will know better than to leave these lying on the floor to be tossed into a common toy box.
King’s Wish for Laundry: You can use this game for all sorts of chores, but in this case, let the King (or Queen) wish for different kinds of laundry. Ask for shorts, underwear, socks, shirts, pants, towels, and so on. This saves on sorting as well, as the kids will bring the laundry according to the type of clothes you ask for. You can change this to clothes by color another time, or clothes according to use. Again, this is an exercise in stretching with a bit of running about and bending.
Hunt for the missing socks: This is another game that will help get laundry chores done while kids are crawling all over the place. You can always “plant” socks around the house so they get to move around all over. You can vary the rules by telling them they will be “bloodhounds” or “retrievers” smelling out the missing socks that they have to bring to the laundry room or the laundry basket.
Laundry color match: You can play this game before and after doing the laundry. Before doing the laundry, divide the clan into two teams, each team aiming for “lights” or “darks”. Dump all the laundry into one big pile and watch them dig in! The one who finishes their pile first by finding all the clothes matching their color gets to choose whether they’ll sort “lights” or “darks” the next time. Or you can just give them a treat.
Where’s the dust? This is a game to dust everything in the house? Divide the clan into two teams. Arm everyone with dusters. Each team is assigned to one room in the house. At the signal, each team rushes to their room and dusts everything in sight. As soon as they’re done, the teams line up outside their respective rooms. At the next signal, each team goes into the other team’s room asking “Where’s the dust?” while looking for any spots missed. The team that finds missed spots gets to assign the next room to the other team, while choosing their own room to clean. This is a quick way to get dusting done, and solves the problem of someone not wanting to clean a room, or some rooms not getting cleaned at all. Dusting involves a lot of bending, stretching, and walking about.
Who moved my bed? Again, divide the clan into teams. Each team gets assigned a bedroom. They get 15 minutes each to move around all the furniture in the room so that nothing is on a spot where it was before. The team that finishes first and shows a room that is functional (no upside down furniture!) gets a treat. What’s this game good for? Everyone gets to do some weightlifting! Plus, their creativity and interior design skills are challenged, as well as their visual-spatial reasoning. Finally, you get to expose spots that tend to be left uncleaned, and if you have carpets, they won’t wear out as quickly in some spots as they would if the furniture was never moved. This is something that you can do about once a month.
You can get everyone actively involved in shopping and cut down your shopping time considerable if you use the Grocery Store Treasure Hunt game each time you go shopping. Before you leave, write down everything you need on little slips of paper, one item per slip. Put all the slips in a jar or pouch. Once you get to the grocery store, find a spot where you can stay and collect your hoard. Everyone gets to pick out an item and run for it. The first one to return with their item gets to watch the hoard. Everyone else picks another item out and runs for it, and so on, until your jar or pouch is empty. Voila! Shopping done in a jiffy. If you get some items regularly, you can use labels from packages or boxes stuck onto small cards so that each person gets to match the label with the actual item on the shelf. That way, you avoid getting unwanted brands. If an item is out of stock. send everyone to find the best alternative. They have to check the ingredients, expiry dates and prices before they make their choice. Also, they all have to agree that it’s the best choice and that they will all be happy using that product.
Make your own version of an Iron Chef or Top Chef show at home. Divide the clan into two teams and challenge each team to make a healthy meal for half the people in your family. (This is necessary, so you don’t end up with a meal good for a family twice the size of yours!) Include a “secret ingredient” each time. The teams must have a chef, a sous chef, and lots of assistants. Each team must also do its own plating, serving, and clean-up.
These are only some ways to make household chores more exciting by involving everyone in the family and getting them all to move. You can make your own variations. If you don’t have enough kids to make up teams, invite their friends over. Before every activity, always remind everyone that there will be no pushing, no hurting, and no breakage, especially in the grocery store. After all, safety is always healthy!
If you only have a family of three, you’ll have to complete the challenges as individuals rather than teams.