We have a no-technology-on-school-nights rule (unless required for homework) which was put into effect a few years ago after we participated in a Turn Off The TV Week for school.
I noticed such a change in the kids’ behavior that week we were technology-free that we made it a permanent thing.
It’s not really that difficult during swim season because we are so busy then that we don’t really have time to watch TV or be on devices. And then when the weather gets warmer, the kids like to go outside, so it’s not a big deal once spring weather finally arrives either.
But over the last couple weeks, in between the fall/winter and the spring/summer swim seasons when there is a two week break, I kind of let that rule slide.
Okay, I totally let it slide.
I think it’s nice for the kids to get a break in that super disciplined regimen they have from September through March.
But I didn’t give them a break.
I gave them a total absence of any regimen at all.
Gradually, there has been a change in their behavior.
And not for the better.
Because another thing that happened when I relaxed on the technology rule was that I relaxed on the what’s-expected-of-you-around-the-house rule, and it really does not take long for the kids to slip into a new mindset that they can basically do whatever the heck they want when nothing is expected of them.
They get lazy and spoiled and it takes very little time for a feeling of entitlement to creep into the house.
And it all kind of came to a head today.
Today was the day that the kids were at each others’ throats all day long and the house was a mess and I asked them to help and the amount of whining, crying, heavy sighing and eye rolling at the mention of actually lifting a finger reached epic — and impressive — proportions.
And then Number 4 asked me to take her to WalMart to buy slime materials and, well…
That just pushed me over the edge.
This was about two minutes before I had to take her to play rehearsal, and about five minutes after Number 6 had an Incredible Hulkesque rage-fest because I told him “being tired” wasn’t a good enough reason to get out of helping out.
So I told Number 6 he had to come with me to drop Number 4 off at rehearsal because I was afraid he was gonna throw a stool through a window or something and then he also had to go to the grocery store with me after that and as soon as we pulled out of the driveway Number 4 mentioned WalMart AGAIN and that was when I really lost my cool, called the two of them entitled jerks, and told them I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the rest of the day, let alone spring break with any of them.
Of course I felt immediately awful.
Because while yes, they know what they should be doing, they are kids, and I’m the grown up.
And it’s my job to maintain consistency and set limits and boundaries for them.
And I haven’t been.
I’ve done this before. And every time I stop expecting anything from them for more than a day or two, the same thing happens.
I don’t know why I haven’t learned my lesson yet!
Anyway, after doing a little reflection, I realized the kids’ behavior wasn’t really their fault.
I let it get to this point.
I allowed them to be lazy and irresponsible.
For one day it’s okay. For two days, maybe.
But then it’s time to get back on track.
I mean, that’s the way life works.
You can take a little break. But then you need to get back to reality.
And even when you are on vacation and really taking a break from reality, unless you are a bazillionaire who can pay other people to do every single thing for you, you still have responsibilities. You have to clean up after yourself. You may still have to cook meals or do laundry or whatever.
So I told the kids no technology for the rest of the night tonight.
Not as a punishment, but as a reset.
And do you know what happened as soon as the technology was off the table?
The kids started cooperating.
Not in an effort to earn screen time back — because they knew that wouldn’t be happening tonight no matter what — but because they kind of had to.
Number 5, 6, and 7 immediately started playing “the floor is lava” and Number 3 and 4 sat down and started talking to each other.
And the are still talking to each other, ninety minutes later, as I am typing this blog post.
The change was instant. And amazing. Maybe also a little disturbing.
And definitely eye-opening.
So anyway, we will be spending our spring break getting back on track, figuring out how we will all contribute to keep the ship running smoothly, while enjoying some (mostly screen-free) down time in the process.