Does trying to get your kids to do their chores make you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle? Like, you could spend 5 minutes
telling convincing them to do their chores, then watch them drag their feet and do a half-hearted job, or you could just do it yourself.
Does it drive you crazy?
Inside: How to get kids to do chores and have FUN with it. (YES – it’s possible. When you start using these fun “chore-games” your kids will start begging YOU to let them do the chores.)
Maybe getting your kids to do their chores feels IMPOSSIBLE. They love to make messes, but when it comes to cleaning those messes up… well, they’re nowhere to be found. Or, perhaps your kids do do their chores, but they drag their feet so much that it takes them half an hour to do one. easy. task. that you could have easily just done in 5 minutes. Or even more yet, maybe you have to follow your kids around cleaning the very thing that they just “cleaned” (because we all know a kid’s standard of clean isn’t even close to mom-standard).
Whatever the case may be, here are 16 different ways to get kids to do their chores (without dragging their feet, and without doing a half-hearted job).
Are you ready to learn how to get kids to do chores without complaining and how to make chores fun? Let’s get right to it.
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HOW TO GET KIDS TO DO CHORES WITHOUT WHINING AND COMPLAINING
Kids are often master mess-makers but awful at cleaning them up. You’ve tried coaxing them to do chores with rewards, you’ve tried chore charts, you’ve tried being strict, you’ve tried being loose with the rules, you’ve tried it all and you’re still at a loss for what to do to get your kids to do chores.
You’re tired of constantly nagging and prodding your kids to do their chores and you’re looking for a way to get them to do their chores all on their own…
…and dare I say, happily?
Thankfully, this isn’t an impossible task – you just need to learn how to approach chore time in a way that your child responds to. It’s important to remember that each and every child is different from the next, so if one thing from this list works for one of your kids, it doesn’t mean it will work for the rest of them; play around with it and try different “chore-games” until you’re able to find the perfect ones for each of your children.
HOW TO MAKE CHORES FUN FOR KIDS
1. THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE (IN A JAR)
This method for making chores fun for kids is one of my favorites. It mixes chance with choice. It teaches your child that sometimes life will hand them situations that they aren’t necessarily fond of, but they have to figure out a way to deal with them anyway (and, if they want to get through these not-so-fun situations in life -er, chore time- quickly, they’ll have to learn how to be creative and efficient in what they do). But, it also gives them the opportunity to discuss and possibly trade situations – chores – with other people, but only if the other person agrees to it.
This may be the perfect chore method for your particularly strong-willed child, and here’s how you can go about doing it…
Have you ever heard of date night jars? (They’re like this, but with date ideas inside instead) Well, these surprise chore jars are the same idea – your kids reach in and grab a piece of paper without knowing what it is. Here’s how it works:
Grab an old jar or container (in my opinion, this works the best). Cut a piece of paper into smaller pieces of paper, then write different chores on different pieces of papers. Along with the chores, include a certain amount of points that your child will receive for completing the stated chore. Make harder chores worth more points and easier chores worth less points.
- Vacuum the floors: 20 points
- Mop the floors: 25 points
- Clean the bathroom: 15 points
- Dust: 10 points
- Pick up toys: 7 points
- Take out the trash: 5 points
- Help mom/dad with dishes: 4 points
And so on.
Then, whoever has the most points at the end of the month (or week, or two-weeks, etc.) gets to choose a prize.
But, there’s a catch.
Once you’ve written all the chores down on pieces of papers with the corresponding points, grab another blank piece of paper and write all of your kid’s names down on it to keep track of their points throughout the month (or week, etc.).
Then, fold up the papers with chores on them and place them inside a jar. Each day, have your kids choose 1, 2, or 3 (or however many chores you want them to do) pieces of paper out of the jar.
But, instead of making them HAVE to do that individual chore, allow your kids the choice to “trade” the chore, along with its points, with their siblings.
For example, if Johnny gets “Vacuum the floors: 20 points” but doesn’t want to vacuum, allow him the choice to see if one of his siblings wants to take that chore from him.
The catch? If his sibling chooses to do that chore for him, his sibling is the one who gets the 20 points and at the end of the month has a better chance at having the most points and winning the prize.
If Johnny’s sibling chooses to do his chore for him, then Johnny has to pick another chore out of the jar.
2. HIDE TREATS AROUND THE HOUSE
Want your kid to do a good, thorough job when dusting? Hide small treats under knick-knack-y items around the house for them to find while they dust.
Tell them that you’ve hidden treats around the house but they’re not allowed to go looking for the treats, they have to dust their way around the house and if they do a good enough job, they’ll find the treats.
Be sure to hide the treats in places that you want to get dusted – this way you can check after they’re finished dusting to see if they dusted everywhere, even the deep crevices in your house.
While a chore chart for kids may not work for every family, they certainly can be an effective way of getting your kids to do their chores without you having to constantly nag them.
Chore charts allow each of your kids to be responsible for their own chores every day/week and instills a sense of pride when they do something all on their own, without being asked to.
But, even though your kids are doing their chores all on their own, you’ll want to be sure to acknowledge when they do them and tell them how great of a job they’re doing.
Give each of your kids their very own chore chart along with a package of stickers and tell them that all the chores on their chart are their responsibility to complete over the week and that you won’t be reminding them every day to get the chores done (though you can nudge them every once in a while to go look at their chart).
Have your kids place a sticker on their chore chart next to the tasks that they do throughout the week.
4. RACE AGAINST TIME (and timer)
A challenge can make anything more fun, and kids especially love the chance to race (and win). So, grab a timer (kids LOVE this timer.I love it because it’s not digital, but it gives them a visual timeframe that they can see go down), set it for a certain amount of time, and whoever gets their given tasks done within the time limit set gets a treat. (Bonus points for bonus tasks completed.)
If you’re not sure how long to set the timer for, take into consideration the amount of time that it should take your kids to do the chores they have to do. Not how long it DOES take them to do. This way, by setting the clock a bit shorter than they’re used to, you’re challenging them to get their chores done quickly, but not so quickly that they do an awful job.
You can also split it up throughout the day. Instead of stuffing all their chores into a 40-minute timeframe, consider doing short spurts. Set the timer for 5 – 10 minutes and see how many of their chores they can get done in that period of time. But, after the timer goes off, be sure that you go and check the work they did to make sure they didn’t do a sloppy job, just to get it done fast.
5. LET THE KIDS CHOOSE
Rather than assigning chores to your kids, allow them to choose what chores they do. Let your kids know that there are special prizes for each chore, and the size of the prize will reflect the size of the chore that they choose to do.
If they choose all the easy chores, their reward will be small. However, if they choose to tackle a big chore and do it well, their reward will be bigger.
Create a reward system, but keep it a surprise from your kids so they don’t know what to expect. When creating the reward system you could do prizes ranging from small: a handful of candies, to large: a night out at the movies. To keep things from becoming too expensive, consider letting your kids “cash in” on their rewards at the end of the week or the end of the month, instead of every day.
Use a chore chart with stickers (this one is ideal) to have your kids keep track of the chores that they do over the week/month so you know what size of reward each child gets.
6. WORK WITH YOUR KIDS
Not everything is about getting a sweet treat in exchange for doing a chore! Instead, make chore time a time to connect with each of your children individually.
You could choose one chore per child per week (or more if you prefer) that you will help them with, and use that time of working together to ask them about their week, about what they want to do when they’re older, about things they may be struggling with, about their friends, and ask them what something good that happened to them today was.
Don’t just brush over the subjects – take time to really dive deep into conversation with each of your kids one on one. (Because really, how often do you get to spend 10 or 20 minutes of uninterrupted time with each of your kids ONE at a time?)
Try to connect with your kids in this way at least once a week. This will help them start to appreciate the hard work that chores can be and it will allow you both to spend time learning more about one another.
(They’re your kid… you may think you know everything there is to know about them, but you may be surprised by what you learn when you spend time to really get into a deep, meaningful conversation and give them 100% of your attention.)
7. POINTS TO MOTIVATE
Points to motivate is so much more than just getting your kids to do their chores on their own – it also teaches them responsibility for their behavior and encourages them to do random acts of kindness to those around them.
To use this method, first you will need to determine a time frame – a week, a month, once every two weeks, etc. This is how long your kids have to collect points before they cash their points in for a prize.
After you’ve chosen the time frame, print off a point system that has each chore, each act of kindness, or each task labeled along with how many points each one is worth.
Then, grab another piece of paper and write each of your children’s names on the paper – this is where you will keep track of how many points each child has.
Every time your child completes a chore or task on their own or does a random act of kindness, mark points down under their name on the paper that tracks how many points they have.
Here’s the catch:
On top of being able to collect points throughout the predetermined time frame, your child can also get points DEDUCTED for bad behavior or failure to complete a chore or task that they’re responsible for.
At the end of the time frame you decided on, the winner goes to the person who has the most points. The winner then gets to choose a prize (be sure you and your spouse have chosen the prize options beforehand).
But, since each of your kids have worked hard over the weeks, the best way that I have found to set up the prize system is to offer prizes that the whole family can be included in – like a trip to the pool, a movie night, going out for dessert, etc. – this way the child with the most points gets the royalty of choosing what the prize is, but everyone gets to enjoy the fun together.
8. DANCE ‘TILL IT’S CLEAN
Have you ever noticed just how much kids LOVE to dance? They always seem to have an excuse to break out their inner dance ninja and show off their moves.
If your kid loves to break a move anytime their favorite song comes on, turn on the tunes and make it a dance competition – but incorporate cleaning into the mix.
Have your kids put on a dusting mitt (or use a clean, damp sock) and dust and dance their whole way around the living room.
Or, have a dance party in the bedroom while simultaneously picking up toys and clothes and tidying the whole room. You can even make it a race against time – have them complete a specific task before their favorite song is over.
9. CHORE DICE FOR SURPRISE
Buy a set of these chore dice and let the games begin (or take a set of any old dice you have around your house and write a list of chores numbered 1 – 12 and have your kids roll the dice to see which chore they get for the day).
This one is simple, to the point, and kids love it because it feels like a game. (Particularly if you use these.)
10. DRESS UP CLEAN UP
Find the funkiest – or prettiest – outfit you have and do the same for your kids. Once everyone is dressed in their finest, or funniest, outfits pick an elegant (or energetic – depending on everyone’s clothing style of choice) playlist and assign each family member with a task to complete before the last song is over. Everything is more fun when you’re wearing your favorite princess dress!
11. TEACH THEM A “BIG KID CHORE”
Kids love being helpful and they take pride in a job well done and they especially love to hear how good of a job they’re doing.
Is there a certain chore or task that your child has been wanting to do but you haven’t let them do because they’re not big enough? (Mopping, vacuuming, helping clean the bathrooms, etc.)
If there’s a “big kid chore” that your kid has been wanting to do, take some time to teach them how to do it.
Teaching your kids how to do a “big kid chore” will give them something to be proud of and will make them want to help out with it more often because it’s not a little kid chore… it’s a big kid chore. (And that’s a BIG deal!)
12. CANDY BALLOON ENCOURAGEMENT
Take a couple of balloons – these ones last a long time – put some candy in each of them then blow them up. Label the balloons with different chores (“clean your room” “unload the dishwasher” “dust the living room” “clean up toys” etc.) then have your kid pick the balloon/chore that they want to do first.
After they’ve completed the chore and you’ve checked to be sure it’s done to “mom standard”, let them pop the balloon and enjoy a small treat. Then have them carry on until all the balloons are popped and all the candies are eaten.
13. GET A NEW CLEANING TOOL
I remember when I was a kid and my mom got a brand new mop (in fact, it was this one… nothing special, but it sure was cool to a kid). For weeks all of us kids wanted to take turns mopping because it was just. so. fun. to get to use this new mop.
We didn’t care too much about cleaning the floor, we were just excited to give the new mop a run for its money.
Eventually, the royalty of the new mop did wear off, but my parents got a few weeks of all us kids begging to mop the floors.
So, go ahead and treat yourself to a new cleaning tool (this is my FAVORITE mop and I was super excited when I got it… it still works great) and treat yourself to a couple of weeks of having your kids think it’s the COOLEST thing ever and wanting to clean just so they can use it. Grab a new spin mop, a new vacuum (here’s the best vacuum for under $100), these really neat and colorful cleaning cloths that kids are bound to LOVE, or this kid-friendly mop.
14. SHORT AND SIMPLE WINS THE RACE
You know better than anyone how kids get so easily distracted and bored. They often have a hard time focusing on one task all the way through to completion if it’s too time-consuming.
Help your kids complete an entire task (no matter how big it is) by working in short 5 – 10 minute increments. This way they won’t lose their focus and finish the task doing a half-hearted job, or not finish it at all.
Allow them to do the chore for a few minutes (when using this method I find using a timer works the best, and when it comes to kids, they love this particular timer) and then take a break, then get right back to their chore and keep working in short spurts until the chore is completed.
15. GIFT EACH KID WITH A SPECIAL CLEANING SUPPLY
Just like we talked about with getting a new cleaning tool, gifting each of your kids with a special cleaning supply will encourage them and make them want to clean even more.
Every 3, 6, or 9 months consider getting a small cleaning supply for each of your kids for them to keep as their very own (one that they don’t even have to share with their siblings if they don’t want to… yea, it’s THAT special).
They can add the new cleaning supplies they get to their personalized cleaning caddies and use it anytime they do a chore.
To make it really special, pay attention to the chores that each of your kids like to do the best. If one child really likes dusting, get them a new dusting cloth or a dusting mitt. If another thrives at washing dishes, get them a special dishcloth (everyone loves the Skoy Scrub!).
16. DO A WHOLE-FAMILY QUICK TIDY BEFORE BEDTIME
Every night have everyone in the family do a mega-fast cleanup of the entire house. This means everyone in the family is cleaning at the same time, for the same length of time.
Set a short timer for 10 or 15 minutes and have everyone do a different task – or work together, whichever way works best for your family. Clean up toys, put laundry away, load and turn on the dishwasher, wipe bathroom and kitchen counters, sweep the kitchen floor, etc.
Kids love to be helpful. Make them know that the work they’re doing is greatly appreciated and is a BIG help to you. Even if the chores they have are small and seem insignificant in the whole realm of cleanliness for your house, it’s not a small task to them. What they’re doing is a big deal to them, and they need to know that you appreciate their hard work.
Help your children become responsible by giving them the freedom to complete their chores on their own time, but encourage and help them to not be lazy about it.
Now it’s your turn!
These are my favorite ways how to get kids to do chores, but what are YOURS?
Do you have some fun ways to get your kids to do their chores? How have you made chore time fun for your kids? Share them with other moms below.