I had another rewarding parenting moment today. And yesterday
I’m going to keep sharing these as long as they happen.
Because there is a correlation between limited (or no) screen time and my kids’ overall behavior and attitude.
I AM SURE OF IT.
Yesterday we had a swim meet. We left the house at 8 a.m. and got home about noon.
And the kids continue to be really good — like different kids — since the technology ban.
Or the technology fast.
And by good I kind of mean amazing.
On Monday I gave everyone the option of a half hour of iPad/Kindle/XBox/whatever time.
Number 3, 4, and 6 took advantage of it. Numbers 5 and 7 had no interest. They played incredibly well together.
Yesterday on the way home from the meet, Number 3 asked if he could play some XBox.
“After I take care of my jobs,” he said.
I didn’t even mention their contributrions. This came directly from him.
I told them I had a bunch of work I needed to get done and as soon as they had taken care of all their contributions they could have an hour of technology/TV while I worked.
Number 3 and 5 — both boys — are five years apart. 13 years old and 8 years old.
Being an older brother by five years, Number 3 can sometimes be kind of older-brother-in-Diary-of-a-Wimpy-Kid-movie-ish to Number 6.
But since the technology fast, they have been getting along much better.
They decided they would take care of all their jobs together, and they literally ran inside from the car to get started.
I was slightly — okay — MAJORLY — shocked.
Thirty minutes later they had finished everything, and Number 6 said to me, “Mommy! We worked together and we got all our jobs done really fast!!!”
Yes! They were learning not only to cooperate and help each other out, but that when you stay on top of things every day, nothing gets out of control and cleaning up is pretty quick!
“Teamwork!!!” I exclaimed.
Then we burst into a few rounds of The Wonder Pets theme song.
What’s gonna work, teeeeeeeaaaaaamwork.
Number 3 and 6 very happily fired up the XBox.
Number 4 needed a new suit for a big swim meet we have this weekend, and my parents took her to get one and to run a few errands with them, so she wasn’t home.
Number 5 and 7 got their jobs done, but they weren’t interested in technology time and really just wanted to play together.
They were quiet and happy, so I didn’t really pay any attention to what they were doing, and I got to work.
About an hour later, Number 5 and 7 came into my office.
“Mommy! Come look at what we made!” they said, proudly. “It’s really cute!”
They led me into the playroom.
And I saw this:
They had taken my yoga mat and turned it into a highway.
They cut strips of yellow construction paper to make the yellow lines on the road.
They turned one of my yoga blocks into the Hilton Hotel.
If I ever make it back to a yoga class, I will proudly take the Hilton Hotel yoga block with me.
They made an entrance ramp and a parking lot for the hotel.
And then they played “Hotel Highway.”
For like an hour.
They used their brains and they used a whole bunch of creativity.
This does not happen when there is unlimited screen time.
It just doesn’t.
I was really impressed. And really happy.
Okay. And I was really proud of them.
I was also kicking myself for not starting the fast the day after school ended.
But you know what they say about hindsight.
So that was my rewarding and reassuring parenting moment yesterday.
There was another one today.
It was the same routine this morning.
The kids woke up, and since no jobs had been done yet, they didn’t even consider turning on the TV or firing up a Kindle.
Instead, they took some old magazines and made collages for about 45 minutes.
And around nine a.m. they all started their jobs. On their own. With no prompting/reminding/nagging from me.
They even cleaned up all that collage mess without being asked.
It was slightly short of a miracle.
One of the jobs the kids have is to empty the litter box.
The litter box is in our basement, and our house is over 200 years old and it’s been raining for like the last three days, and our basement is kind of damp and, well, damp 200+ year-old basements smell really… basementy.
It was Number 5’s day to empty the litter box, but she and Number 7 took a page out of Number 3 and 6’s book and decided to work on their jobs together.
Number 5 did not want to go in the basement. It kind of grosses her out.
Plus nobody loves to scoop up cat poop, even in the nicest of basements.
I was sending some emails and they came up behind me to the door of my office.
“WE’RE READY MOM,” they told me in unison.
I turned around and saw this:
They had fashioned their own HAZMAT suits.
I was dying.
Those two have always been close.
But cutting off electronics has really made them closer.
It is really fun to watch the two of them together.
The last two days have been good days.
The technology restrictions will continue.
Because life in our house is exponentially better when those limits are in place.