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Chore Chart – Why or Why Not (and the best chore chart we’ve ever used!)

There came a day when I stopped using a normal chore chart and started using my Swap Chores for ScreenTime chore chart for their daily chores.  Chores for kids are very important and I want our kids to do them, but I didn’t want the stress of keeping up with a chore chart.   With four kids, it was becoming just that- an extra cause of stress (that I did not need).

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.

However, when kids want to earn money or earn screen time, a chore chart can be great.. .if you find the right one.    We stopped using normal chore charts and started using our new Swap Chores for ScreenTime Cards – and it’s worked wonderfully. 

Alternative to Chore Charts

Let me tell you why I had STARTED using chore charts: 

  • They were cute.
  • They looked nice.
  • They seemed like a good idea.
  • They would hold the kids accountable.

Now let me tell you why I STOPPED using chore charts: 

  • They were taking up a lot of space on the wall.
  • When I made them personal ones, they weren’t keeping up with them.
  • It was more work for me.
  • It added stress because I felt like I was trying to keep up with them.
  • I wanted them to get into the habit of doing these chores just because it was their job, not because it was on a chore chart.

I started using this instead:   My kids do their chores in exchange for screen-time. 
Swap screentime for chores cards

I wrote a post a few months back called STOP doing that for your kids and it is one of the best reminders about why kids need to help out (I re-read it myself… often.)  When I read it, I am reminded of what I want our kids to become and how I am going to achieve it.   I want them to be responsible adults one day. I  want them to be hard workers and I want them to respect their things and themselves.

  • I know that our kids need chores that are really their ‘daily responsibilities’.
  • I  know that they need to do things without being asked (like take their dishes to the dishwasher and putting away their clothes).
  • I also knew that I wanted to have a few “extra” chores, like gathering the trash, sweeping the hallway, cleaning the car, cleaning mirrors and windows, brushing the leaves off of the front porch, etc…

    chores for screentime cards

These were things that did not need to be done daily, but I need the kids to pitch in with those things because we are a family and we are a team.   So, I had to come up with a plan that worked.

Yes, I could do it all, but I want them to understand the value of helping their family.   I also do not want to raise entitled kids or lazy adults.   I want to raise responsible adults.

Age Appropriate Chores

Onto the reason for today’s post… figuring out an easy chart for the kids to help with age-appropriate chores. I came up with a system that helps me do just what I wanted.
chore chart
Every day the kids have their daily chores or responsibilities.  These are NOT written on a chore chart or a flip card or a list.  I remind them if they forget, but they have become habits.
It is a habit to brush our teeth when we wake up and these are habits, as well…

  • They know that they need to keep their room clean (and if they forget, this little reminder is just what they need!)
  • They know that they need to clean up after themselves at mealtimes.
  • They know that they need to make their beds and open their shutters when they wake up.
  • They know that if they don’t put away their clean clothes, no one is going to do it for them (as much as I want to do it because I like a clean room… they will deal with the consequences, not me.)

What about the extras?

Enter… our chore basket! We swap chores for screen time: 
Swap screentime for chores cards

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

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.

That’s it.  It is simple and easy.

If they resist, be sure to stick with what you know is right and teach your children that talking back will get you nowhere. 

The best part of the chore-basket & swapping chores for screentime is that they earn their screentime, so it completely eliminates the guilt that goes along with letting them have downtime to watch TV, YouTube kids, play online games, etc…

A colorful chore chart sitting on a table

Life skills through Chores

Chores build character in children.  It is good for them, helpful for you, and a win-win all around when kids do age appropriate chores.







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. Thanks for sharing this awesome idea! My husband and I have been trying to figure out what chores are age appropriate for our kids and this is a great way to have them help out around the house. My kids will actually enjoy picking a card out and being surprised to see what is on it. They actually love having a ‘job’ to do that helps me {at least they like it now, I am sure as they get older they wont! lol}.

  2. I LOVE this idea! Our 5 year old daughter has a chore chart and I am constantly forgetting to check off what she’s done. I have a bin just like the one pictured in your post and plenty of note cards so I can get started on this right away.

    1. Me, too. It was more of a time-consuming thing for me than a helpful thing. 🙂

  3. Since the chores are not daily chores when they complete the chore do they put them back in the bucket or do you keep them somewhere until they are completed and restart the process?

    Thank you so much for your website. I’m having so much fun going over it today!


    1. We put them back in the bucket. I usually just say “Pick another one” if they get the same one as yesterday. (but I have enough in there that it doesn’t happen too much).

  4. So you do this daily? At any specific time of day? Going to implement this with my almost 4 and 2 year old. I work full time so would we do it before bed, when we get home, etc? Thoughts?

    1. I do it more on the weekend. So during the school year, we give the one a day, but on the weekends and throughout the summer, we do several a day. (At least 1-2 for our 4 year old)

  5. Can you give some ideas of the chores you put in the basket?
    thank you!

      1. I totally agree with you, well written post!

        I always resisted the chore cards / charts and rewarding systems. Mainly because it means I have to police it which is something I don’t want to do. And I believe that the jobs one has to do in and around the house just belong to a normal daily life and that everyone can help to do them. Not only because they will receive a sticker or a gift after fulfilling the chores. I’m no fan at all of any extrinsic motivation because it doesn’t work in the long run (not only for children, it doesn’t work with people in general).

        We are fortunate enough to be able to send our boys to a Montessori school. There and at home they are part of a community and a family and are included in what has to be done. Of course always age-appropriate things. I believe these so called chores are valuable life skills and I can’t see any harm in teaching our children how to do housework. I recently read a thread on Facebook where someone had published one of these charts that show age appropriate chores for children. I was shocked when I realised that the majority of comments was negative and along the lines that children shouldn’t be doing housework etc.

        1. Oh man- I think housework is another way to build great character. I want our kids to be hard workers and strive for greatness in everything that they do (and we are their first teachers). Thanks so much for leaving this note!!

  6. I love this idea, but do you incorporate any kind of allowance (we call it commissions). I believe there are certain things they need to do as “habits” like you said, but I also think it’s important to teach kids about working to earn money, save, spend, and give. Just wondering how you do it, if at all. My kids are only 4 and 6 right now.

    1. I just teach them to save most & then they give (from their money jar) on Sunday for church. They also have to donate their toys, etc…
      They really don’t spend too much because they both have “big goals” that they are saving for right now. 🙂

  7. Thank you for sharing these tips, a must read for parents, specially the ones with first child. A lot of great tips that help my life get easier, Thank you!

  8. Love this idea as I have tried every chore chart on Pinterest and I cannot keep it up. Thank you for this! I can’t wait to try it out. Just real quick question, what kind of chores are you putting in your chore basket? I have a 5 and 8 year old. Both girls. Thanks again!

    1. 🙂 It is so much easier! Check out my post called “age-appropriate chores” for my whole list 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for your posts. I am a mom of 3 little ones and I home school. I have 2 book end children that are very strong willed and I feel I have lost my joy as a parent. I feel I am driving them to do what they need to all day. They are all very physical. They love to wrestle and play fast and rough which usually ends in someone getting hurt. I HATE to here them yell but I yell for them to stop do I understand where they get it. I hate it with all my being and I want a care free joy filled life with my kids. I am so exhausted and that makes me frustrated at them. I have to have a quiet time mid day at some point or I am at a breaking point. But I have received encouragement from your posts, so thank you

    1. I’m so glad. The day to day is so hard, so try very hard to focus on your end goal – raising children that are kind & responsible. You can do it. If you are reading this, it means that you are looking for answers, so you are already doing great!! 🙂

  10. Where can I buy or print a template for these cards?

    Also Curious to know how the chores convert to ipad time?

    Is one chore worth 15 min for example?

    1. The chore cards have minutes written on them, based on the chore.
      You can buy them at

  11. Hi! Love the idea! How can I do it with an age range though? My kids (4 of them) are 12, 13, 13, & 14 – three boys and the youngest is our girl. I guess there would not be a big difference since they are so close? And do you pick an specific amount of time for each task or is it a set amount for all like 30 minutes of screen for each chore? Thanks!!

    1. I think you could do whatever works for your family 🙂 That seems pretty close in age so they could all be the same, but you might also want to adjust the times if you want your younger ones to have less time.

  12. So the consequence if they don’t do the cards is no screen time, which is awesome!

    What happens if they don’t do the things that are considered daily responsibilities?

    We have made it clear to the kids that putting away backpacks, lunch bags, coats etc. each day after school is their responsibility but I still find myself having to remind at least one of them daily. 🙁

    1. Keep reminding them, but make them do it. Ex: if they are playing, they have to come back inside to put it away. Our kids will not get any privileges (snacks, shows, toys) until they have done the things that they are responsible for, just as I would not do anything until my bed was made, etc.