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Today I want to introduce the best Chore Chart we ever used (and didn’t use).  Chore Charts can be very helpful, but we’ve found this to be the best solution yet.  I’ll explain how our kids Swap Chores For Screen Time using these cards.

Our SWAP CHORES FOR SCREENTIME CARDS (you can find them by clicking here) have been a game-changer!

No Screentime until Chores are done

While many different chore charts can be very helpful, we’ve found these to be the best.  Once we invented, designed, printed and implemented our swap screentime for chores cards, we realized that they were the easiest & best solution yet.

Swapping Chores for Screen Time works.  Not only do kids learn to work hard, but it also eliminates the guilt that is associated with screentime or electronic use… because they are EARNING it.   You are paying them with screentime (which is a luxury) instead of cash.  (Of course, you can give them the option.)

Plus, we’ve found (and heard through others who have used our cards) that their children are helping out more around the house.  They are asking to do more chores.  The best part is that the adult is not yelling or nagging them about their chores.

Chore cards in exchange for screentime
When we begin to use a chore chart as a way to help our children to become more responsible or to help out more, it will either work like a charm or fail miserably. Having a chore chart for kids is definitely a good idea, as long as it does not become MORE work for the parent.

That’s where chore charts usually go downhill…

Chore Charts usually stop working or begin to go downhill when it becomes more work to keep up with (for the family).  When the CHART becomes another CHORE in itself.

I want to tell you a story about my friend, Kelly.

I am changing her name today for this post.   As a child development therapist, I have worked with many families.   I help children and families with specific needs and each family is just as important as the other.  However, the one that stood out to me the most was the Dove family.

Kelly Dove had three young children, ages 3, 7, and 11. She was a fantastic mother.  Kelly had been a Kindergarten teacher for ten years before she quit teaching to raise her children. She was an involved and caring mother, yet her children didn’t seem to appreciate her.

She tried everything.  She had a kid’s chore chart hanging on her wall, and she spent hours every week trying to figure out which chore chart ideas would work best, but in the end, none worked for her because they were all causing her more work than benefit.

She felt like they weren’t helping out, but instead, they were spending more time on electronics: watching TV,  playing games on their iPods, talking to friends on their iPads, playing with their tablets, playing on her laptop, playing video games… She was frustrated by the change in her children’s behavior.  When they had a free minute, they grabbed their video game controls or their tablets.

Kelly felt like her kids were taking her for granted.   The worst part was that they were starting to lose the connection & bond with her and with each other.  She valued their relationship and didn’t want to lose it.

child lying on a bed

They were always on electronics, they were arguing more, and they weren’t helping out around the house.

Even though Kelly had printable chore charts for each of her kids, they weren’t using them.   Her children were no longer doing simple chores or keeping their rooms clean, let alone utilizing the family chore chart.  They had stopped cleaning up after themselves.

Her children had even stopped putting things away when they were finished. They weren’t playing nicely with one another, and they were bickering more.  Worst of all, they had started talking back to her.

She was tired of always trying to convince them to help until she would just give up and yell, taking away electronics and other privileges. Kelly’s patience grew thinner and thinner.   She was yelling and didn’t like the person that she was becoming or the family that they were becoming.

She was at the end of her rope. 

Then, Kelly called me. She was ready to bring her family back to what she knew they could be: close, respectful, hardworking and loving.
After only a few days of working together and adding in some of my parenting systems, Kelly’s kids were back to their normal, sweet, loving selves.  Kelly was happier and everyone was getting along.

What did we do?   We started swapping chores for screen time.

Swap screentime for chores cards
By Swapping Chores for Screentime, they learned that in order to have screen time, they had to help out first.
When they helped the family out, they were rewarded.

In the end, the parents were able to have help around the house and they still could allow their kids to have screentime because they had earned it.   Plus, they weren’t spending all of their time on electronics because now they only had the time that they had earned, so it was limited.

the best chore chart we've ever used.

Chore Chart Benefits – The valuable lessons behind swapping chores for screen time

– The Value of Hard Work
– Building their character
– Learning about the contribution to the family responsibilities
– Work Before Play

As a parent, you can feel OK about allowing them to have some downtime to kick back and relax after they have completed their work.   You’ve taught them a great life-lesson. 

Chore cards in exchange for screentime

It is so simple.

Just cut up all of your cards…
Swap screentime for chores cards
Toss them into a basket:
Swap screentime for chores cards

And let the kids pick their chores.

The chore basket is probably the easiest chore system that you are ever going to find.  It makes it so easy!

chore chart
I just have them pick chores out of the basket and they do whatever is on the card.    There are no special rules or regulations.

If I need their help, I have them pick out 2-3 chores and they do whatever is on the card.

Swap screentime for chores cards

Also, because I’ve explained why I need their help (part of the family, more time to play if we finish our chores, etc…) they usually don’t complain.

BONUS:  Use the Chore Chart Cards to encourage independent play or sibling play (or as a thank-you for babysitting the younger kids):

chore chart

  • Encourage Sibling Play: “Play with your brother/sister without arguing for 20 minutes and you both earn 5 minutes of screen time.”
  • Encourage Independent Play: “Build with blocks, draw a picture, or make a LEGO creation for 25 minutes to earn 10 minutes of screen time.”
  • Encourage Reading, Writing, and Math: “Read for 30 minutes to earn 5 minutes of Screen Time.”  Or “Write 10 sentences to earn 5 minutes”

That’s it.  It is simple and easy.

Update:  This email (review) just came in…

“The cards work!  Like they really work!  We didn’t have to use them long (just a few weeks) because the habits were picked up by our kids rather quickly.  We  had tried free printable chore charts and checklists in the past, but they all became more work just trying to make sure they were completed, so we finally switched to your SWAP CHORES FOR SCREEN TIME chore cards.  The kids are helping out without me nagging them or even asking them anymore!  They started helping more and reaching for their devices less and less.   These cards are amazing.  I wish I had used them years ago!”

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. What would you recommend for teenagers still living at home who struggle to understand the idea of helping around the house no matter what the consequences; positive or negative?

    1. I would do the “if-then” idea. IF your daily responsibilities are done, THEN you can have your phone, the remote, a ride somewhere, etc…
      When they don’t do it, I’d be more empathic than anything… “I’m so sorry that you didn’t get to go swimming with your friends. I wish you had picked to do your work. It makes me feel bad because I know you would have had a good time.” It’s not YOU who is picking not to let them go or do whatever they had planned… it is your child making that choice. Do you know what I mean?

      1. I completely agree. However, it sounds a bit passive aggressive to state it that way to a teen, who is “on to your ideas”–LOL. I’d make it more direct: nicely state, “You were told that you had to do the chores. This is probably frustrating for you, but I gave you that option”. Teens are smart–6 of mine are teens or adults now. They know if you are really sorry, or if you are trying to teach a lesson.

  2. Hi just curious how they apply their earned time if there are multiple children. When one kid earns 20 minutes of screen but the others have been lazy, what happens? My kids usually watch TV together..thanks!

    1. I was wondering the same thing. Or maybe isnit that the ‘screen time’ isnt just for a tv show? Maybe having the kid who earned the time have time to play an educational game on their tablet?

      1. When we do this (I have one child that always earns more), I just tell the other kids that they need to find something else to do while he uses his screen time. Sometimes, we will let that child stay up a little later to watch a movie with my husband and I (usually a 90 minute movie, which uses that time).

  3. Another question I have is how little to start this process? I have a 5 year old and 2 year old and am struggling with teaching them to help and have responsibility without it becoming a major thing for me to maintain every day- or maybe at their age is that pretty normal to have to really help them through a lot of the work?

    1. Yes, at that age I had to really teach them and show them what to do. Once they do the same chore a few times, they will understand and be able to do it alone. 🙂

  4. Hi
    My son who is 13 yrs old is playing with his phone all the time. If I ask him to put down phone , he will pretend not hear me .if I take away his phone we will get into big fight or he will hide in his room .whenever I ask him do house chores he will do it do for 1 Min and pretend it is done.

    1. Honestly, I would take it away. We took our kids individual electronics after about a month of the chore cards – it was a fantastic transition for us to move into very limited electronics. It’s been about 8 months & they NEVER ask for them. We bring out the phones, etc.. if we are going on a very long car trip (4 hours or more). They can watch TV, play games, play outside, etc…. but I just didn’t like all of the time they wanted to spend on the electronics.

      For me – it’s better to have them mad at me for a while than to be pulled into using electronics more. I would try to spend a LOT of time together when you take it away: replace the phone time for family time: Uno, Phase 10, Monopoly, going on walks, going to the store, talking, drawing, painting… Our 12 (almost 13) year old son seems to like the time with us more than anything else, but given the chance to have his phone- he’d pick it.

      I had to decide which is better for him (even if he wasn’t happy about it at the time) :).

  5. What age would you recommend starting something like a chore chart? My daughter is only two but I would like to introduce something along these lines soon.

    1. Two is perfect, because they love to help (especially if you are with them).

  6. Hi! Love the cards for swapping chores for screen time. Your link doesn’t seem to be working. Can you please let me know how I can get these cards?

  7. I am so confused on where to find these cards with the points on them. I went to the website and dont see them there

  8. 1) I noticed a “different bonus set” that can be ordered, but I could not find any details about it. Can you please describe what is included in that set?
    2) We would not have trouble managing screen time, but I see the great value in this strategy for those families who might battle this with their children. I also think this is a great idea for selecting chores – without the screen time component. I would like for the children to learn that they should help without an expectation of screen time, etc. They should develop a helpful attitude and do these things because it is the right thing to do. With that said, do you have the cards available without the screen times? Can they be sent in a format that can be modified, like as a Word document? Thank You!

    1. Yes- I have the one set that has the chores for screentime, but then I have another set of chore cards that are just chores without the minutes on them (different chores).

  9. I really like reading through an article that will make people think.
    Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

  10. Hello, I love these chore cards…I might convert them into sticks to save space (I have readers, so I can move away from pictures).

    I am curious about the colors. They don’t connect with the task times. Are they related to age?


  11. I love this concept and have purchased the cards, but we have run into a bit of a problem with some of them. Our children are currently 10 and 8 years old. I’m curious about how the amount of time doing the chore relates to the amount of screen time minutes earned. Some of the chores are finite and succinct. However, some of the chores could be quite variable in terms of the length of time and effort required to complete the tasks (cleaning out a closet, shoveling snow, cleaning the garage etc) what do you recommend in terms of giving an appropriate cut off for jobs that could be overwhelming so that the kids do not rush through or do it so minimally it doesn’t really warrant earning the screen time? For the more finite chores, how do you account for a job well done? If our standards are too high then it diminishes their drive to do the chores. I’d love some guidance on how you handle this!

    1. For our kids, I will override the time on the cards.
      Ex: our oldest son is very particular and does an amazing job with his chores, so if I give him “Cut the back yard” – he will do more than expected. I will then reward it with extra minutes (double). If a child does a poor job, I won’t reward them until it’s been done correctly.

      If I feel like a specific closet requires more time, I’ll just tell them that it’s double the minutes. IF they are doing a small closet, the minutes on the card work.

  12. I was wondering if you let them choose their own chores or u flip the cards backwards so they can’t see them and then pick a card? If they pick their own chores, what if they always choose the same chore because seems easiest? Does it matter? Thanks

  13. They look great, but I can’t find the cost anywhere. If I click on the lind, it asks for credit card information, but there is no price listed on the page.