“Mom, can I play video games??!” As they look at you in fear of your answer with equal anticipation, waiting for your response based on nothing concrete other than if they will become productive human beings in life if you let them play AGAIN… Sound familiar? Here you will find a few ideas on how to balance video games and chores without nagging!
Does this scenario haunt you? What if you could answer with “I don’t know, CAN you play video games”? With this method, they know EXACTLY how much time they have to play without you nagging!
*This post may contain affiliate links to products I actually use and love! At no extra cost to you, I may get a small commission for my recommendation.*
The Video Games Struggle Is Real
The struggle of balancing free time, video games, and chores without nagging can be almost impossible without tools. It took me many tries before I came up with a method that worked for all of these things.
This is not easy because it takes your full attention and dedication. But it works!! And it works almost immediately! I also love this system because it is free!
First of all, my child speaks video games as his love language! Anything else isn’t heard or is a stupid idea. So, I save video game time for his last activity of the day because he has to earn it.
Also, there is no money involved! The currency is time. Also, you can make up any increments of time for any task you want. They start looking and asking for things to do to earn video game time! It’s amazing!!
You can use only one of these methods or a combination of all of them. Use what works for your kids and your time restrictions.
Stop Nagging! Use The Five Minute Rule
This method is for any age but would be best for ages 4-10.
I offer 5 minutes of video game time for every good behavior I can think of (only if it is completed with a good attitude)! Subsequently, I take away 5 minutes (or more) as a punishment.
In the beginning, give more time than you take away. This is very important to get them hooked on the system. Give time for EVERYTHING!
Putting shoes away, turning off a light, saying thank you, taking the initiative to help, obeying right away, or saying uplifting words are simple and easy to reward.
In the beginning, only take away time for major stuff. Make it fun and exciting! Make a note for each kid and keep it accessible because this will only work if you are fully dedicated!
Let them be in control
As a result, they are in control of their own destiny. This also solves the nagging problem! Later, you can start evening out the time given and taken away once they get used to the system. When they see it working in their favor, they will be willing to work harder.
Remember, the point is to reward every good behavior you possibly can! Subsequently, this will punish every negative behavior while putting them in control of their own behaviors and consequences.
For example, with a newly crawling baby in our house, leaving the baby gate open at the top of the stairs was a problem. I wanted this problem fixed within one or two times of leaving it open.
So, I set a harsh punishment of losing 15 minutes of video game time every time the gate was left open. But on the flip side, every time I saw him close the gate, I announced, “plus 15 minutes!” He would light up with excitement! As a result, this problem was solved in one day!
This method is a little more complex making the target age range 8-12.
Not only do I give 5 minutes for each wonderful thing he does throughout the day, I also give a sticker on a certificate like this one! I love these because they come with very realistic gold stickers!
Each certificate is worth something almost as valuable as video games: chores pass, extra video game time, or a late bedtime pass!
I set a certain number of stickers required for each pass.
Helping hands requires 30 stickers and is worth a dishes pass once completed.
Trustworthy, I want to reward quickly and make it worth the most to him because this is the behavior most important to me. This one is 15 stickers and 1 hr video game pass!
Initiative is something my son struggles with. It takes looking outside of yourself to discover things around you that need your help or attention. So, this is another one that I make irresistible to prompt this behavior. This one is 15 stickers and is a 1 hr bedtime pass.
Perfect score is a reward for the daily learning work. We like to use Brain Quest books! They are engaging and touch on a wide variety of subjects. 20 stickers is worth a sweeping chores pass.
Obey right away is 20 stickers and is worth a mopping chores pass.
Obviously, you would have to have the chores in place as a regular part of their routine for the pass to be worth working for. With this method, give 5 minutes and a sticker!
Lastly, instead of following your kids around giving or taking away 5 minutes all the time, you can also put your day into blocks. Most importantly, still with the benefits of certificates, passes, and video game time but with a little easier-to-follow schedule.
This is more self-guided and can be used throughout the summer. Every day is different at my house. Sometimes, I NEED him to do one of the blocks of time, so I will assign it to him, but other times, I might ask him what he would like to do (other than video games).
Minimums must be met with good attitudes in order to gain the video game time.
Reading time: 30 minute minimum (extra time can be banked for video game time)
Chores: One chore minimum with a good attitude. (extra chores can be rewarded with video game time)
Outside time: 1 hour minimum weather permitting.
Exercise: 30-minute minimum. This could be an obstacle course, cardio, dancing, yoga, basketball, or anything else to get the blood flowing. (extra time can be banked for video games)
Learning time: Home-school (5 minutes per subject finished with a good attitude) or 30 minutes minimum of another learning activity.
Creative play: 30 minute minimum. This can be drawing, writing, singing, creating, building, or just about anything that encourages brain activity! (extra time can be banked for video games)
TV time: 1 hour maximum. Any forfeited time can be used for video game time.
Video games: Any time banked from the days earnings not to exceed 2 hours. Anything over 2 hours is allowed to be rolled over to the next day.
Time To Play Video Games
I know it seems like there is a lot of time to be earned and there is! That’s what makes it so exciting to them!
However, now that we have been doing this for some time, I don’t reward every tiny little thing. You can give as much or as little time as you see fit.
Finally, once you add in normal day stuff like:
*morning routine of brushing teeth, making bed, getting dressed and straightening room,
*3 meals and a snack,
*evening routine of brushing teeth, shower and getting dressed for bed,
the day is now pretty well scheduled without a lot of time for “I’m bored!!”
I hope this helps iron out attitudes, minimizes nagging, and produces positive interactions. Balancing video games and chores without nagging IS possible with hard work and dedication!