Summer is quickly coming to a close. The routine is about to change. In our house, we thought it wise to slowly return to the school year routine by starting early. This has been met with ... resistance. The major point of contention has been over "screen-time". In our house that includes TV, Wii, Nintendo DS, iPad, and the computer. During the summer I became lax about keeping track of how much screen time they were getting; not just with me, but throughout the rest of the day as well. This all came to a head yesterday. Their sense of entitlement, mixed with a lot of whining, brought me to a new level of frustration and lack of patience. By the end of the day we were having a "family meeting" about the topic. Here's what we came up with.
Lead the way
Kids follow where parents lead, which can be good or bad. What both my wife and I realized was that they got the expectation of the amount of screen time from us. We like our iPad, iPhones, and Kindle as much as they like their DS's and Wii. We had to repent of our use as well. Just as limits were effecting them, they would have to effect us as well.
As we talked during our family meeting, we set clear expectations. There was a small amount of time that was "automatic". Once that was used, any other screen time had to be earned. This could be done by doing various things around the house; clean their rooms, make beds, put laundry where it's supposed to go, make sure what you've used is put back, read, work on math, etc. We also set the expectation that if there was any whining or complaints about being bored, that it would effect the next day's automatic time. To our amazement they agreed.
We realize that the only way this is going to work for any length of time is if we stand firm on what we've agreed to. There will be whining and complaints of unfairness, but my wife and I realize it's on us to make this work.
Today went much better than yesterday. There was less screen time all around. Because I didn't have my face buried in the iPad, I was able to unload the dish washer, do a load of laundry, and read a little. The kids rooms are cleaner, they were outside for a while and seem to somehow be surviving without being plugged in all day.