Looking for a way to get the kids to help out more around the house without nagging or fights? Try chore sticks!
My fabulous friend Tiffany came up with the idea of chore sticks and we’ve adapted it here with great success.
Here’s all you do:
- Write some simple chores on one end of some popsicle sticks. Also write some fun things and surprises.
- If you have children with very different abilities, you can add a colored dot to the blank end corresponding to each child (so your preschooler would pull sticks with red ends, for instance, and your high schooler would pull ones with blue).
- Put the sticks, writing side down, in a mug or similar container.
- Have the kids pull out a chore stick and do the job assigned. Make up family rules about how many sticks they should do a day (we do 3 a day, plus as many as they like after that) and whether they can swap (we allow one swap per day if chores are drawn that the child really doesn’t want to do).
- As kids do chores, have them put the sticks back upside down so that chore isn’t pulled again that day (or that week for chores that don’t have to be done often).
The chores don’t have to be just housework. You can add in anything that you’d like the kids to do more of — exercise, reading, flossing, school-related jobs, you name it.
Some examples of chores on our chore sticks are: Do 15 minutes of exercise, vacuum the living room, read a book to Alex, write a letter to a relative, do a workbook page in math, dustbust the stairs, brush your hair and tidy your room.
Some examples of the treat sticks (which are mixed in, so the kids are anxious to keep pulling chore sticks) are: Take a walk with Mom, get a quarter, win a prize (I keep small prizes in a drawer for emergency gifts and fun), get a candy and color with Mom.
Everyone I know who has tried chore sticks has had great success with them. My kids love them and tend to pull way more than 3 a day.
Here are some tips to keep it fun and easy:
Make the chores small and relatively quick. Nobody wants to pull “clean your room” but pulling “straighten your bookshelves” or “make your bed” is easily doable.
Focus on chores that are pretty enjoyable. Kids often find out that they don’t mind chores if they get to do things that almost seem like play. Dustbusters, Magic Erasers, feather dusters and other tools can make jobs even more fun. If you have many chores in there like “scrub the toilet” and “scoop the cat box” you may find that the kids aren’t too anxious to pull chore sticks any more!
Make it a routine. Put the mug where you’ll see it often and have a general time every day when the kids pull their chore sticks.
Don’t be afraid to change it up. If the kids don’t enjoy it, ask for their suggestions on what to add. They may volunteer to do chores you hadn’t thought of. Also consider adding more fun and silly jobs.
Keep the treats small and easy. You don’t want to put “go see a movie” in there if that’s not something you can do at the drop of a hat. Also be careful not to outweigh the chores (which are the main point) with too many treats. They should be a special surprise, not every other stick.
Get wacky! Toss in some “chores” that are pure silliness. Who wouldn’t like having to do chores like “cluck like a chicken” or “give someone a magic marker ankle tattoo”? Again, just do a few to keep them as fun surprises.
You could even try making up a grown up version for yourself and put some fun rewards in there! 🙂