Trade Chores for Screentime and Everyone Wins!

The kids will be fighting over who gets to do each chore!

By Jennifer Hill, Fremont Macaroni Kid July 16, 2020

We all know how hard it can be to get kids to willingly do household chores most of the time. My kids are 10 and 11 and we do not pay for chores. We believe everyone in the home is responsible for helping out around the house. But it can get old having to remind them what to do all the time or nagging them to get it finished. Until now! 

Check out our new chore method. I listed all of the household tasks we do around the house from dishes to vacuuming to cleaning the bathroom and more. I then wrote each item on a popsicle stick and added a "screentime" value to each task. Then on the back of each one I wrote either a W for weekly or a D for daily. Not all of the daily tasks really need to be done daily and the same for the weekly, but to be honest, I really don't mind if they are done more frequently than really needed.

Next, I used three cups or jars to create weekly, daily, and finished containers. I added the sticks to the appropriate daily and weekly cups. Once they complete a task, they drop it in the finished jar and let me know what they've done so I can jot it down (no way will I remember them otherwise!). Each evening I will look through the finished sticks and drop the daily sticks back into the daily cup so they can be done again the following day. On Fridays, I will take the finished weekly sticks out and put them back into the weekly cup as well. (Author's note: After two weeks, I decided we needed a better way to "pay" for the screentime so I pulled out some old poker chips - you could print something easily also - and used a Sharpie to put time values onto the chips. As they complete their jobs, they are paid with the chips and when they want to redeem for screentime, they pay for it with their earned chips. Working well!)

I also added a fourth container (an old glass salt shaker without the lid was perfect). I use this one for the required tasks for the day. Each morning, I pull out the few chores that I want completed that day and put them in this container. The kids still get to decide who does what, but this means the chores that have to be done will get done. The rest are optional and just a bonus for mom! 

As mentioned, I added a screentime value to each task. Emptying the dishwasher earns 15 minutes, dinner dishes earns 20 minutes, wiping down a bathroom counter and sink earns 5 minutes, etc. They can then use their screentime as they wish throughout the week. 

How well did this work? Well, it's still early in the game, but my kids were literally hoarding the sticks! I had to make a rule that the sticks stayed in the cups until they were ready to complete that ONE task. This encouraged them to get their job done quickly so they could move onto the next job and earn more screentime.

To help you get started, here's a list of age-appropriate chores for kids! It's free to print.