Sick of complicated chore systems that don’t work? These easy-to-make chore sticks are the perfect way to get kids to help more…and complain less!
Trust me when I say, I’ve tried about a million chore systems. And none of them lasted very long.
I figured it was me. Why couldn’t I get my kids to do chores consistently? And without constant nagging?
Then one day, several years ago, my husband and I were apart of a volunteer cleaning group for our church. I’d done this several times before, but this time was different.
We were all able to be extremely efficient and we got the whole thing done in no time.
What was the difference?
A grown-up version of chore sticks!
All the cleaning tasks were laid out on a table. We picked a couple and went to work. We didn’t have anyone telling us what to do and we didn’t have to wonder what was expected.
We had total autonomy.
So I took the concept home to my kids, and you know what? It’s worked like a charm ever since. (And that was years ago!)
There are some pretty awesome chore systems out there, but chore sticks have my heart. They’re ridiculously easy and super effective.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CHORE STICKS
I love using chore sticks with my kids because they’re easy for everyone.
They’re easy for me because they’re so simple to make and maintain. They take just a couple of minutes to make and don’t require any fancy equipment.
And because this is such an effective way to get kids doing chores, it’s a huge help to me as a mom. I’m still the main one that keeps the house put together, but it’s sure nice having little helpers so I don’t have to do it all alone.
I also love how easy chore sticks are for kids.
Each chore stick has only one simple, clear task. I make sure they learn how to do it, but once they’ve got the concept, they know exactly what’s expected. It helps them to have only one thing to think about at a time.
And because they’re the ones that pick the sticks, they feel more in control, making it easier for them to do the chore without my nagging. They also love the satisfaction that comes from moving a stick from “to-do” to “done”.
ARE CHORE STICKS ONLY FOR OLDER KIDS?
I started using chore sticks before any of my kids could read. They’d pick the sticks, and I’d tell them what they said.
I’ve also done versions that had pictures. So that’s an option too.
The chore ideas that I’m sharing today can work for many ages. (For reference, my kids that do these chores are 7 and 10.)
But that’s the beauty of chore sticks. Because there’s no pre-printed chart, you can change and adapt as kids grow. You can also put in just a few at a time until they’re ready to try the harder chores.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
HOW TO USE CHORE STICKS WITH KIDS
I have seen parents use chore sticks in many different ways. But this is how we use them:
We have three jars – one for the chores and one for each child.
At the beginning of the week, each child picks out 5 sticks to put in their jar. They have until Saturday evening to complete all 5 sticks. Each time they complete a stick, they put it back in the jar.
That’s it! Super simple.
Now, it’s totally up to them to do the chores. They can do them whenever they’d like, as long as they’re done by the end of the week. But I encourage them to do at least one a day so they’re not left with 5 chores on Saturday.
During the school year, I only have them pick out 5 chore sticks even though they have 6 days to complete them. That way, they have a buffer if things get busy during the week.
Also, some of the chores are pretty quick. This makes it easier for them to do a couple on Saturday if the week ends up being extra busy.
We also use chore sticks in the summer when there’s no school. The only difference is that each child chooses 10 sticks instead of 5.
Side note: My kids have been learning to clean the bathrooms over the last couple of months. Because I want them to keep getting practice every week, I make sure one of their 5 chore sticks is a bathroom one.
Cleaning supplies needed
For most of the chores, any cleaning supplies will do. But here are a few staples that make some of the jobs easier, especially for younger kids.
- For mirrors and windows: these cloths
- For wiping things down: these cloths
- For disinfecting: disposable wipes (Clorox, Lysol, etc.)
- For dusting: these dusters
- For dusting under furniture or around hard flooring edges: Swiffer mop or any microfiber mop
How to prepare the chore jars
To make the chore sticks and jars, here are the supplies you’ll need:
- Wide-mouthed mason jars (or any similar container)
- Jumbo craft sticks
- Sharp-tipped permanent marker (like a Sharpie)
- The Chore Sticks Printable for jar labels and chore ideas
- Ribbon or string to tie on labels (I used this.)
- Hole punching tool
This isn’t necessary, but I laminated the labels so they’d last longer.
Now it’s time to put it all together.
ASSEMBLE CHORE STICKS AND JARS
Cut out the circles.
Write the names of your kids on the blank circles (print more if you have more than 2 that will be using these jars).
STEP FOUR: (OPTIONAL)
Laminate the labels.
Punch a hole at the top of each label.
Tie the labels to the jars using string or twine.
Using the chore ideas from the list, (or any chores you’d like), write the chores on the craft sticks with a permanent marker.
Put the craft sticks in the “chore” jar…you’re all done!
30 chores for kids
Here are the chores we currently have on our chore sticks:
- Clean toy area
- Empty dishwasher
- Vacuum stairs
- Vacuum rooms & hallway
- Wipe baseboards in 2 rooms
- Load dishwasher
- Wipe door handles/light switches
- Sort laundry
- Do a load of laundry
- Put your laundry away
- Straighten mudroom
- Clean upstairs bathroom
- Clean downstairs bathroom
- Wipe kitchen cupboards
- Vacuum rugs
- Sweep kitchen floor
- Vacuum car
- Sweep front porch
- Take out the garbages
- Help clean up after dinner
- Mop kitchen floor
- Clean microwave
- Clean mirrors
- Put groceries away
- Dust under couches
- Wipe down kitchen appliances
- Wipe down kitchen trash can
- Clean out utensil drawer
- Dust edges of hard floors
CHORES THAT ARE NOT ON THESE STICKS
There are two types of chores that won’t appear on these sticks: routine tasks and “extra” chores.
Routine tasks are those that should be done every day. I don’t really consider them “chores”. This includes things like “make your bed”, “clean your room”, “get ready for the day”, or other things that might appear in a morning or after school routine.
“Extra” chores are those that my kids can earn money for. Things outside of regular house cleaning tasks that are a little harder or require more work. (Yard work, etc.)
These don’t appear on chore sticks because I want my kids to learn how to help around the house without needing a reward. But I still want them to have opportunities to work hard and earn money.
Once your chore sticks and jars are ready to go and you’ve explained the new chore system to your kids, what’s next?
Chore sticks are an excellent way to get kids doing chores. But kids are still kids. And chores are still chores.
It takes time to get kids into a good rhythm with chores. It also takes lots of practice (and repeated direction) for them to learn to clean well.
But they’ll get the hang of it. The learning curve isn’t too bad.
Stick with it, be patient, and the results will be worth it.
Psst…Want even more great printables to help your kids learn to clean? Head to the Freebie Library for tons of helpful parenting resources!
PRINTABLE: CHORE STICKS FOR KIDS
Before you go, make sure to grab your copy of the jar labels and chore ideas. On it, you’ll find the jar labels and 30 totally doable chores for kids.
Trust me when I say, this is a simple and very effective way to get kids doing their chores.
Now, are you ready to start having more help around the house?
want to remember this?
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