Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chore Sticks

As you can no doubt imagine, with four children aged between 3 and 7, our house is almost always incredibly messy. I needed a way to motivate my team of potential little helpers. Having had limited success with threats and/or bribery, I was excited to stumble upon the idea of chore sticks in a playgoup magazine. The basic idea of chore sticks is to write a set of jobs that you want the kids to do on separate popsicle sticks (I started out using strips of cardboard, but they weren't durable or identical - I'm sure my eldest had figured out which stick was which and could therefore choose her job of preference, not that she would admit to it!). The kids then pick a stick at random and are then responsible for completing the chore written on the stick.

As my kids are close in age (in fact, only 19 months separates the three youngest ones), I decided it would be easiest to select jobs that they are all capable of doing. I thought of creating a separate set of slightly more difficult jobs for my eldest, but decided against this in the interest of simplicity and enhancing the kids' sense of solidarity. At first I had just four chore sticks, which worked well for a while before the kids started getting bored with them. I then realised I need to increase the number of chores to keep it interesting. I added some silly ones as well, to keep it fun. To help the kids that can't read, I drew a little picture at the top of the stick to help them identify the chore.

Here are some of the chores that we have on our sticks:
  • Vacuum floor
  • Feed Bunny
  • Check Spot's water and food - sadly, this chore is no longer required :(
  • Clean table and sweep the floor
  • Make beds & put pyjamas away (morning only job)
  • Put toys and books away
And some of the silly ones:
  • Give Mummy a cuddle (this is my favourite, of course)
  • Tickle the person closest to you
  • Put nappies in the bin
  • Roar like a tiger
Every day after breakfast, and again after dinner, I select eight chore sticks according to what jobs really need doing at the time (four real jobs, and four silly ones). The kids then select a stick and complete that chore before selecting their second stick and doing that chore. We usually put some music on while we are tidying up, which makes it a bit more fun.

The chore sticks have had a big thumbs up from me, as well as from my team of little helpers. Just the mere mention of chore sticks gets them excited and sometimes they even ask to do them! My only challenge is to keep thinking of new jobs, as the kids do get bored with the same chores pretty quickly.


  1. Oh Kate, I love this idea. And my husband has been collecting ice cream sticks for what purpose I do not know....but I have a purpose for them now!! Thank you.

  2. Just what I was looking for! Thanks for the idea!!! :)