The Powell Pack’s Cure for Couch Potato Syndrome!


Too much media time is an epidemic that seems to be affecting kids and adults all over the world… and sadly, the Powell Pack isn’t immune to the problem either! A love of Xbox and Angry Birds has snuck into our home and taken over WAY too much of our sweet kids’ time. After far too many minutes spent with glazed over eyes and sore thumbs from bird launching, Chris and I developed the perfect way to combat couch potato syndrome: Time spent in front of video games is to be earned with some good ol’ fashioned exercise! A quick circuit, designed by Chris, earns 15 mins of iPad or Xbox time, with a limit of earning a total of 60 minutes a day. The workouts aren’t rigorous, but they’re just enough to keep our littles moving and stave off excessive techno time.

Cash LOVES Angry Birds (like father, like son!), so to earn his time on the iPad, he does:

  • 7 running laps around the pool
  • 10 push ups
  • 10 squats

Matix can’t get enough sports games on the Xbox, so for him to earn 15 mins of video games, he does:

  • 25 pushups
  • 25 jumping pull ups
  • 25 squats
  • 400 m run

I love the idea of not only teaching them to keep electronics to a minimum, but the importance of making exercise a part of their every day lives too. The best part is they’ve learned to love the exercise as much as the time on their electronics, makin’ me one happy mama. 😉

With iPods, iPads, computers, phones, and video game systems becoming such an integral part of everyday life, it’s hard to keep our kids from spending too much time on their devices and get them up and moving, but it is so important in the fight against childhood obesity and setting our children up for a successful, healthy future. What are some ways your family limits media time and encourages outdoor play? Any tried and true methods? Share your ideas in the comments below—I would love to hear what works for you!





  1. Jill - March 24, 2015

    I LOVE this! I am a 2nd grade teacher and when the kids are practicing math facts I let them do 10 exercises (or a 10 second yoga pose) of their choice after each row of facts on their paper. They love it and it makes math facts “not so boring” 🙂 Physical Education classes are becoming more and more limited due to budget cuts, and I can’t stand to watch obesity levels grow without doing my part in the classroom! 🙂

  2. Monica - March 24, 2015

    I absolutely LOVE this idea and I’m for sure going to start doing this with my 5 and 3 year old!!!! I’m sure they’re going to love this!!!!

  3. Sydney - March 24, 2015

    I think this is a great idea. Although the TV is constantly on at my house it’s pretty much just background noise. We usually watch an hour of TV when we get home, during rest time. The rest of the day if it’s nice my son goes outside. If it’s not nice enough to be outside the TV usually stays on, but neither of us vegetate in front of it. We might stop for a second here and there, but it’s mostly background noise that facilitates the many adventures that he’s had in the house. He’s just constantly playing. I may use something like this later on if he starts to just sit in front of the TV.

  4. Kelle - March 24, 2015

    I personally think that that is a wonderful idea and I wish I would’ve thought of it sooner with my 9 year old son. He now has to earn electronics time by exercising, usually we do 3 to 5 minutes of squats push-ups and situps. After that he earns 20 minutes. I wish I would’ve started it when he was younger because he is one of those strange mellow boys who needs to be pushed outside to play and now is overweight.

    • Alison - March 28, 2015

      maybe shut the television off and put music on instead as noise in the background..could create another activity such as dancing or singing/lip syncing

  5. samantha - March 24, 2015

    I like this idea but we have never even thought or needed anything like this. My kids are 4 and 6 and they very very rarley ask to play on the ipad or watch a show. That’s because we have always limited it. so to them it’s not even really an option or a thought they have. They probably watch one show or movie 1x/week and have maybe 30 minutes of ipad game time once a week. It’s just not something we do a lot of. They get all their exercise at the playground or swimming pool or outside sports

  6. Brittney Riley - March 24, 2015

    I don’t have kids, but I think this is fantastic. My nephews spend way to much time in front of the TV/ipad etc. They are in good shape, because my sister walks everywhere so they do as well. But too much time in front of the TV. I am always giving them things that make them want to go outside. Like binoculars and a field guide for birding for his birthday. Signing them up for a race and cheering them on etc. I need to share this blog post w/ my sister!

  7. Denise Schneck - March 24, 2015

    I love this idea. At what age did you start this with Cash? I have a 2 yr old but not sure she’s old enough to start something like this yet?

  8. Chelsey - March 24, 2015

    I love this!!! Our kids have 2 options to earn 30 min of electronic time.

    Run outside for 3 min plus 30 sit ups or push ups


    3 reps of the following
    10 sit ups
    10 push ups
    10 jumping jacks
    10 burbees
    20 sec wall sit

    It’s not easy but it gets them moving and I feel like they ask less to have electronic time. Which means less times I have to say no 🙂

  9. Lisa - March 24, 2015

    i think it’s a good idea, for me the children have to have done their hwk and there little chores. My 3 all do a lot of sport anyway and are always active so I don’t need to make them do more . Twins are 8 and both in swimming club so swim 3 hrs a week, Rebecca plays netball, and I take them to the gym and they do the kids Zumba, track and sport classes and swim too. William plays football twice a week, rugby, swims and school stuff too. They are in a prep school where sport is still s big thing my eldest who is 10 was in a swimming gala today, tomorrow has a netball match and Thursday a cross country event plus she dances 3 hrs a week, runs and swims too plus the school stuff .if only I fitted as much in I would be as healthy and slim as them, ally struggle with my weight since I had the twins, I have joined weightwatchers now and I do exercise ( which I have always done ) so here’s hoping x

  10. Cat - March 24, 2015

    I commend you both as parents! Myself, I HATE video games, but I know it’s a part of society now, and a mother of a 9 year old boy, it has become part of our life.

    However “game days” are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Before he can play, he must do his exercises. He does jumping jacks, pushups, squats and now is doing strength exercises with the kettlebell. As much as I rather he go explore the neighborhood on his bike like we used to do, it’s just not the way it is now, especially since we live in such a metro area of a city. I’m sorry there was so much controversy on Chris’ post on the burpees.. but in my mind you are doing the right thing.

  11. Cris - March 24, 2015

    I just loved the idea of exercise. We have a 5 year old who loves watching videos. (Thankfully he is nit into games yet). We limit his media time to 60min per day. However we didn’t do any earning method. But I want to start it. My dad is a retired PE teacher and when he comes over he does some exercises with my son and his latest favorite is jumping jacks. And he likes to exercise with me when I do it at home. Lets keep them moving!!!!

  12. Patty Hetrick - March 24, 2015

    Love it! There is nothing wrong with teaching kids about exercise, health, and well being. We do Crossfit/HIIT workouts with friends at their house and they have a kids Crossfit 3 days a week. Most of the kids who come love it. Well, that might be a strong word! It’s similar to how we adults feel. It might be hard, it might be hard work, but it makes you feel good to accomplish the workout. And those kids can drop 2-3 burpees in the amount of time that I do one! Great job, Powell family!

  13. Jen - March 24, 2015

    what a great idea. In my home of 4 little ones we have a system…
    They reach have the potential to EARN 3 hours per week for ipod and xbox. 1 HOUR ftiday, 1 Sat, 1 Sun. These are earned 1 by behavior overall, 2 homework & school work completion, 3 bedroom cleaning. If slip on 1, they don’t have a day, if they miss 2, the lose 2 days. They have the potential to earn additional 30 minutes at a time doing special tasks that come up… laundry, the lawn, yard work etc…. During the week there is no TV until after dinner And bedtime is between 730/8. There is usually one show we watch each night as a family after dinner. After homework they can play outside, ride bikes, skateboards, whatever. That’s how we run our household and it’s helped. I don’t see anything wrong with the kids earning their time. You guys are doing a great job!

  14. J - March 24, 2015

    I’m not adverse to this at all, like some of the haters…but we just tell the kids go play outside. they run for hours like kids should. they go from bikes to rollerblades to football to hide and seek up and down the street with about 10 neighbor kids. love this neighborhood. they get to use their electronics a couple hours a week because they are respectful, loving, kind people that do well in their studies. I do think hide and seek sounds like more fun than burpees, but whatever works. every parent does it different and every one is going to have an opinion. I say if you raise productive, respectful, honest, hardworking members of society that’s all that matters. I also think that our obesity problem doesn’t so much stem from angry birds as it does from growing up and getting a job sitting at a desk all day while eating junk. I played Atari until my fingers bled as a kid and also maintained a healthy weight until I got a desk job and learned I really, really love donuts 🙂 I also highly doubt with Chris and Heidi’s example that they will ever have obese children. you can tell a kid to do something 50 times, but unless you’re doing it yourself and they see you, it doesn’t impact them like setting the example.

  15. Trisha - March 24, 2015

    We do ours by not limiting there screen time but by really limiting the other time that they have open to use screen time. It works best in our house.
    • You have read a book for at least 25 minutes
    • All of your homework is completely finished
    • You have updated your calendar and/or Homework map
    • Been outside or done something creative for 30 minutes
    • Straightened up your room
    • Finished your chores
    • Gotten everything ready for the next day

  16. debi - March 24, 2015

    I Love the idea. We only let our kids play electronics for a very short time frame. The Love to come workout with us anyway. Plus they get lots of exercise being they in clogging and boxing as well. Staying fit is the greatest. I can’t emphasize this enough with our kids.

  17. nicole - March 24, 2015

    Love love love the idea…. saw the burpee video in the airport the other day and was like eureka!! We are going to be instituting a similar rule in our home this week… with one in baseball and one in softball and lacrosse we need to get more practicing in so we will be working that into the daily allotment

  18. Sheila - March 24, 2015

    Love It !!! What a great way to motivate kids into earning privileges while reaping the healthy rewards of exercise. I think you’re doing your kids a huge favourite by adding physical activities into their lifestyles.. With so much online social media and electronic devices these days kids tend to become too engrosed in technology to begin with.. Me personally, when I exercise, Crossfit Training, I feel more motivated and energetic through out the day. Sitting around and laziness doesn’t cut it. Your kids will thank you one day as exercise and healthy living will most likely continue to be a part of their lives. Besides, I’m sure they are loving it :):) Well done Powells

  19. Carolyn - March 24, 2015

    I posted and shared my comments to Facebook! I like what you are doing and I have done music and movement (actually taught this for years) with our own children. As they grew to be teens,, we turned the family TV room on the lower level into a large fitness room and they were unable to watch TV unless they put in at least 30 minutes of cardio and strengthening. It often grew to be an hour for t hem and for myself! So, we’ve always encouraged fitness and I am 70 now and have a recumbent cycle and rebounder with stablizing bar for daily use. I also use some hand weights for my floor routine. Kudos to the Powells for bringing a healthy lifestyle to them selves and their children, as well!! Nemaste

  20. Tasha - March 24, 2015

    Awesome! I totally love your ideas. I’m going to work this into our routine for us. We are an active healthy family and I love to learn new methods to use in our fitness journey.
    I love to do mini workouts while we are watching TV. Just a few wall sits, lunges or dips to keep us moving.
    Thanks for your continued motivation and inspirational content. Keep it up!

  21. Tawnya - March 24, 2015

    I think this is a great idea. I am all for it and will be giving it a try with my kids as well.

  22. Kim - March 21, 2015

    We just tell our child (age 6) that it’s time to turn off the electronics…he may moan and groan a bit but once we suggest a bike ride etc he quickly is ready to go! He never turns us down to get moving especially if we are moving with him!

  23. Jen - March 20, 2015

    my kids see me monitoring my steps all the time. They came up with a goal of 10,000 steps a day which is tracked on their own jawbone’s and I can see because we are on a team. They keep me accountable and I keep them accountable. If they want to substitute a bike ride then they are more then welcome. During Soccer season this is easy. Winter they struggled.

  24. Kate Ashbaugh - March 20, 2015

    Hi Heidi! I don’t have kids but I was wondering…
    Do you think that if the child doesn’t like to exercise, and you make him or her for screen time, that they will grow up resenting exercise and working out and then not workout in the future because mom and dad made him or her??

    • Team Powell - March 20, 2015

      Chris and Heidi make working out fun for their kids, and it’s up to the kids to choose to do their workouts to earn screen time. And remember, they have great examples of parents who like to workout! 😉

    • Lisa - March 24, 2015

      If they are young then no as exercise comes in so many shapes and forms. I have taken mine swimming since they were a few weeks old, he they had yrs of structured swimming lessons but I also take them and they play. Now at 8 my twins have chosen to go to swimming club where they get formal intense coaching but on a Sunday when my son is in a rugby match I take to the girls to h gym pool where they have a play about / swim then go on the inflatable session which they love . Majority of little boys love to play with a ball , most lads are football mad and obsessed with it and kids everywhere play football, football centres everywhere and especially where we live with 2 premiership teams close by all the boys are either into Liverpool or Everton. Equally rugby is a big British sport and take them from when 4 and they love it, plus it’s so social , this weekend by 8 yr old and husband are on the kids rugby tour so a weekend away playing rugby. Both of my girls have dances but my 10 yr old has continued they started at 2 1/2 yrs it was just fun then doing moves to disney songs or nursery rhymes. In that time she decided to quit ballet but still does modern, tap and disco, that decision was so she could do netball too. There are so many sports and incentives for kids to exercise I don’t get why so many are obese and addicted to the tv. There is so much formal stuff but also the informal stuff you can do as a family, walking, bike rides etc if you make it the norm then it becomes the norm. Most gyms have kids Çlasses and family sessions.the kids love it that at the weekend I do a spin class whilst they do a multi sport one then we go to the family fun pool session with inflatables, they think it’s great. My girls love going to the roller disco 2 hrs of skating is exercise but they just see it as fun . This summer as he is 8 my son can join the cricket club which he is keen to do, for girls there is tennis at same time and mums and dads cheap bar and social night , win win for us all 🙂

  25. Amanda - March 20, 2015

    Do you use a special fitness video geared towards little ones or do they just follow any kind?

    • Team Powell - March 20, 2015

      The Powell kids don’t use fitness videos, their workouts are made up of different activities. 🙂

  26. Tiffany - March 20, 2015

    We do a very similar thing except we have them do it first thing in the morning…something similar to your 9 minute missions. We change the work out up monthly (my girls are 12, 10, 8). We don’t watch TV during the week…but on the rare instance they have time or want to they have to run around the block (exactly 1/2 mile) for each 30 minutes they watch. They love it and don’t complain…they just know it’s what they have to do if they want the iPad. Keep up the great work!!

  27. Shannon - March 20, 2015

    It’s so great to hear different ideas and perspectives when it comes to electronics! Our family struggles with this every day. Love your ideas I will have to try incorporating fitness into our point charts add a way to earn extra for the kids “fun” time.

  28. Amy - March 20, 2015

    I have a co-worker whose grandson is addicted to electronics. I will have to tell her about this so she can teach him as well as his parents. Of course, at first, they are/could throw a fit and I think that should cost them playing time as well. Every fit/temper tantrum should require some form of exercise as well. I also feel that the parents should limit their time on electronics, if they are playing games or surfing the web (doing anything else that isn’t work related) and they should time out themselves and also incorporate some form of exercise as well. Kids learn what their parents do!!!

  29. Jessica - March 20, 2015

    I absolutely love this!! My son has an Xbox and he is obsessed (to say the least). I already limit him to pick either a Friday or Saturday to play and he gets 30 minutes MAX!! I’m going to try and incorporate being active as well! Thanks for sharing!

    • n - March 24, 2015

      Why did you buy him an Xbox if he only gets 30 mins a week? Would’ve been easier to just say no to the Xbox!

      Yes, we have an x box, yes my son gets to use it most days when there’s time but with homework and practices it’s not an everyday event. No he’s not overweight and yes he is doing very well in school. Hopefully that answers any questions

  30. Lara - March 20, 2015

    I am going to add these to my list. I already make my 5 year old do jumping jacks. Luckily he is in all day Pre K so I only let him play on the computer 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night.

  31. Elizabeth Harms - March 20, 2015

    I love this! We have a “Computer Time Bank” for our son as well. In order to get 20 minutes, he needs to complete and online math lesson from his school. I love the idea though of having exercise be a part of that! Thanks for sharing and for inspiring many 🙂

  32. Lisa - March 20, 2015

    and it also helps little ones learn how to count too!!! Cash is a perfect example in the video!!!

  33. vickie braley - March 20, 2015

    well in the winter because we live in new england we use the will but me and my daughter use it for exercise like the bowling, will fit , and zumba. so we still get our computer game time while we also exercise its not outdoors but due to weather we cant always get out and we do go to a zumba class once a week

  34. helen - March 20, 2015

    im all for physical activities for kids but making them do exercises to earn privledges is rediculious

  35. Angela - March 20, 2015

    What a great way to also teach maintaining balance in your life! Yes you can have cheesecake but not everyday and you’d need to balance that with the other food you will consume AND do some calorie output! Yes you can be a couch potato, but workout earlier in the day…its all about balance. Fantastic ideas.

  36. rachel - March 20, 2015

    We have four kids ranging from 7-13 in age. We’ve had the same problems and decided last year that Monday – Thursday there is zero xbox, tablets etc. So Friday after school through Sunday is all they get. It eliminated the issues we were having with always having to monitor it and making sure homework was getting done. The fighting over who’s turn it was… we do allow tv during the week if chores and homework are completed but that can be a group thing verses keeping track of turns. 🙂 Good idea on the work outs though. I will definitely add that to our summer routines!

  37. Vonnie - March 20, 2015

    The same can be said for adults!

    I had knee surgery and the only cardio I could do while rehabbing was the recumbent bike. BORING! i found myself putting it off more and more. Finally, I grabbed my iPad and put Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. I only allowed myself to watch the show while on the bike. It worked like a charm! i couldn’t wait to get on the bike to see what was going to happen next. 🙂

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