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Update: I originally wrote this post back in 2012! Since then my kids have grown and so have their chores. We no longer have the guinea pig, and a lot of the issues we needed to address back then have improved. I recently updated the Chores Bingo list to make it more up to date with the tasks they need to learn to handle on their own as they move into their teen and young adult years. Hopefully it will help them learn the tasks they will need to do on their own when they eventually move out of the house! I’ve uploaded it and it is linked below.


chores bingo

Chores Bingo rocks!

I am one of those bad mothers–you know, the kind who let their kids play video games all day long. From the Wii, to the DS, to their iPods or their Leapsters, this house is lousy with video games! There aren’t a lot of kids around here for my kids to play with, so they’re stuck indoors a lot while I work. I also have found that because my kids are visual learners, that both of them have learned some pretty good lessons from their video games. There’s the typical Leapster learning games which helped both kids learn how to read and write; but my kids have also learned a lot of life skills from their other video games as well. JD has a pretty significant performance anxiety–he won’t attempt anything he doesn’t know he will succeed at. It is through losing at video games that he has gotten much better in this area. It also has been a great social connection tool for him with other boys his age–they have something in common to talk about and do together. LittleMissSunshine plays way fewer games than her brother does, but she has begun to learn that perseverance pays off–to not give up the first time you fail. That may not sound like a big deal to many moms, but for us in the KnowitAll household learning how to fail, analyze why you did and trying again is a big lesson in being successful in life.

Still, they’re not ideal. I may be a “bad” mom, but I don’t want my kids in front of the TV 24/7.  I want them to learn life lessons, to get out and enjoy the summer, and most of all, to know that TV and video games are a priviledge, not a right. Because of that, we have gotten clever with our rules. I don’t mind them playing the games as long as they have earned them. We start each day with Chores Bingo. Get five chores in a row to have any electronics. First to bingo controls the Wii for the first two hours of game play!

I didn’t make the chores extra hard, or all that difficult to complete quickly. The idea was mainly to teach them some good habits–to pick up every day as you go along, to keep your room and the house tidy. I never learned that lesson. God bless my mother, but she hadn’t learned it from her mother to teach it to me. I am working hard to make sure my kids learn it! The chores we listed are simple, but important to young kids as they learn to develop daily routines. Plus, by making it into a game, it helps keep them from being painful, routine chores and more into a bit of fun every morning. They have a reward to look forward to in the end–they get to play video games!

Chores Bingo

Chores Bingo Rules:

  1. You must complete the full task list that day to put your marker on the bingo sheet.
  2. There will be NO electronics until the day’s tasks are finished.
  3. Set a timer for 15 minutes and Get. It. Done.
  4. No Whining Allowed—Whiners will do MY chore for the day.
  5. Complete all of the tasks listed unless it says to choose one.

I’ve uploaded a pdf copy of our chores bingo list, Chores Bingo 2015 so that you can use it if you want. Or make your own!  A few tips:

  • Have a good mix of chores for the kids to choose from: some easy, some hard. Mix them up in a row so that there’s a good balance.
  • Be realistic as to what they can get done in a short time.
  • Repeat some of the chores several times, especially if they’re ones you want them to do every day. You’ll notice I’ve got things like pet care, picking up their clothes, and making their bed on there a few times. That virtually assures me those chores will get done every day!
  • Add in hygeine skills you might be struggling with. Because my oldest has extreme sensory issues in his mouth, he hates to brush his teeth. By adding that to the list of “chores” it made it his decision to do it and not us standing over him yelling about it.
  • Mix it up! We quickly found they fell into a groove and do the same chores every day. Each month I rotate the spaces on the board to get them to try other chores as well. Sometimes I’ll throw a bonus prize out if they do an extra space on the board.
  • Have fun with it! Keep it light and fun, as a reward system. Keep punishment away from the chart. Don’t take away a piece they’d rightfully earned because they later did something wrong. That will kill what fun and rewards there are in this system in a heartbeat.
At first we had a few groans and whines, but I made it clear that games are a priviledge, one they’d have to earn. We learned several years ago in therapy with my son (who has Aspergers) that he responds particularly well to rewards systems–he could care less about punishments but he was very aggressive in earning priviledges and rewards. We’ve had many different rewards charts over the years, and they all have worked well in one form or another. We do have punishments here in the house, but we’ve found that if we’re teaching them that the things they want in life are priviledges instead of things they’re owed, that they work to earn them. We don’t have to discipline them or restrict them all that much because of it. Chores bingo is just the beginning of our day. We also have time set aside every day to do learning exercises together; from family devotion and worship time to going outside to photo walks, we make sure to have a good variety during each and every day. But Chores Bingo is a great start to the day–they know that any downtime they get that they can decide what they want to do with it because they’ve earned that priviledge. And as a mom, I love that they’re learning that lesson while they’re still young!
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