Four days ago I put a ban on all electronics after the kids’ behavior and attitude took massive nose dive.
There was an immediate improvement in the way they interacted with each other and the way they responded to and spoke to me in general.
Some of this was due to that phenomenon that happens when kids are like “Oh shit, we seriously f*cked up and we better be good.”
But that usually only lasts a couple hours or a day if you are lucky.
Day 2 of no electronics the kids were great. There was about a 75% decrease in meltdowns, arguments, fights, and backtalk.
The kids spent literal hours outside, they cleaned up and pitched in, they played board games, they read books, and they genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.
In the third day the kids got up and immediately checked the contribution chart to see what they were responsible for that day.
Number 3 and 4 cut the grass without being asked, and the house was starting to look less like squatters had taken over and more like there was family who gave a shit living inside of it.
On the third night, I let the kids watch a movie. They were SO APPRECIATIVE.
Watching television had returned to what it should be.
A privilege and a treat.
Yesterday the kids, again, made all their contributions without being asked.
I was able to get some stuff done, and being a parent was much more enjoyable than it had been the last few weeks.
I was much less exasperated.
They kids weren’t perfect, but they were pretty awesome. I didnt feel like I needed a break from them.
I gave everyone 30 minutes of device time yesterday. They had certainly earned it.
Number 3, 4 and 6 were extremely grateful, and appreciative.
Number 5 and 7?
They didn’t even want it.
They had been ha ing so much fun playing together that they wanted to continue doing that.
Today was Day 5 of massively limited device use/screen time.
I went to the Y this morning to work out. I took Numbers 5, 6 and 7 with me because there is free babysitting there, and they enjoy going.
I left Number 3 and 4 at home.
They are at that stage of life where they either love each other or they hate each other.
Lately they mostly hate each other.
So leaving them alone can be like a game of Russian roulette.
I crossed my fingers and headed to the Y.
Two hours later, I returned home, a little nervous about what I’d find inside.
I had told them no TV or electronics, but I didn’t totally trust them.
So I took everything with me.
Including the remotes.
I waljed in the door prepared to hear yelling or glass breaking or somethung catastrophic happening.
I walked into the kitchen.
And I saw this:
“MOM! WE MADE COOKIES!!!” exclaimed a proud Number 4.
“It was actually Number 3’s idea. We wrote a little practice for ourselves, swam in the pool for about 30 minutes, and then we made cookies. The dishwasher is full, but we’ll wash everything by hand when we are done.”
They hadn’t fought, they hadn’t hurt each other, they hadn’t broken anything, they were happy, and they made chocolate chip cookies from scratch.
It was amazing.
If you are struggling with your kids this summer (or ever), if they don’t want to go outside, if they have difficulty occupying themselves, if they cannot cooperate for lo ger than five minutes,
take a good, hard look at how much time they are spending watching TV, and on their phones, iPads, computers, and X Boxes.
TAKE A GOOD LOOK.
And then set some limits.
You are in charge!
There may be some push back initially, but if you can stay firm and strong with limits and expectations, you will see a change.
A change for the better.
And the only regret you will have is that you didn’t make this decision earlier.