Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality

You're singing the song in your head now, aren't you?  Nothing like a little late 80s Soul II Soul to get you goin'.

I've had those lines running through my head this week.  After a really extended winter break/vacation, we're back in the throes of real life again.

Last night was my first class of the semester.  I don't have a lot of flexibility with my courses.  I have to take classes when I have childcare.  Yesterday's class was just that, a class that fulfills a program requirement and is scheduled when my kids are cared for.  I didn't even know what the course was about when I arrived.  Check that.  I still don't really know what the course is about, but that's not going to stop me from doing this week's assigned readings and showing up again next week.  And, every week after that.  I think it's going to be a good least I hope so. 

I'm really enjoying my Master's program, by the way.  Have I mentioned that?  I hate, Hate, HATE the homework and not having the flexibility I've had for the last 4 years.  But, what I've read and learned and discussed over the last 4 months has been, well, cool.  I wasn't sure about this program before I started.  Democracy and Governance -- huh?  But, now, I'm enjoying it and am actually see practical uses for the degree in the future.  What more could you want? 

And, speaking of real life, Isaac is potty training this week.  Or rather, Isaac is wearing big boy pants and talking about earning M&Ms.  I'm not sure if he's getting it yet, his success has been pretty hit or miss.  Literally.  But, he seems ready, so we're going to continue, for awhile anyway.  He needs to be potty trained by September, that's the goal.

Caleb is back at school and doesn't want to be.  Not because he doesn't like school, or church, or museums, or family outings, he just only wants to be where he can play Mario Kart.  He threw probably the first real tantrum of his life this weekend because of Mario Kart.  But, we stood firm, and he learned his lesson and yesterday and today have been much improved.

But, I need some help with this one.  So, seasoned parents out there, do you have a system for video game and computer usage?  How much time is too much?  How do you track it?  Do your kids earn their time or just get an allotment each week?  What works for you?  I could really use some insight here.  Up until now we've essentially had no system.  But, I can see that was a mistake and is an approach that is going to create problems in the future.   Any and all thoughts are welcome, so bring 'em on.  Please.

...back to the here and now...


Annemarie said...

I DO have that song in my head now and can't get it out!!!

People will have very strong views on this one...

We haven't really had BIG problems with too much computer/internet. When there is a sharing issue, I just pull out the kitchen timer and they each get a turn.
This year the "finish your homework first" rule was introduced.

Jessica said...

Potty training AND homework for you!? Yuck!

And the only thing that has worked for us, as far as limiting screen time, is saying screen time ONLY on Friday and Saturday. That way I only have to monitor two days a week. They watch a lot (3 hrs per day, probably--family movies on Friday, Saturday morning cartoon, Wii alot of Saturday afternoon) but 6 hours a week is great!

Kate said...

I'm hardcore. We used to do the timer method, but kids would "forget" to set it or squabble about who was first, etc. Now, they get NO screen time Mondays through Thursdays (school days) and I don't really monitor it on the weekends. Also, if they fight about it on the weekends, they all lose the privilieges (I know! Mean.), but that way they learn to work it out themselves. We keep pretty busy on the weekends, so I know they aren't completely frying their brains, but this system seems to work well for our family. My teenager is allowed to self-monitor his xbox time (his xbox is in his room, so it doesn't interfere with the younger kids) as long as he maintains a 3.75 GPA and it's off by 9:30 pm.

treen said...

At my house, they get TV time (a movie because we don't have cable) OR computer time, but not both in the same day. I'm not hard core on holding them to a certain time but try to keep it at about an hour, or the 90-or-so minutes for a Disney cartoon movie.

If they throw a fit when it's time to get off the computer, they lose it for the next day, or a few depending on how bad the tantrum was. They prefer the computer over the TV, so that's a tough one for them.

Good luck with finding what works for you and your family!

Julie said...

We've tried lots of different things and adjusted over the years. At one time for every half hour they read, they could play on the computer/video game for a half hour, etc. They could have up to an hour a day AFTER they did all their other homework, chores, and music practicing.

calibosmom said...

You've got a lot on your plate! Oh Mario Kart-I remember well when that started in our house. I like Jessica's rules but wow, I don't think I could keep my kids off the games all week.

Becky said...

Right now it is, no wii or computer unless the house is clean and school work is done. Then, they get 20 minutes each. They have to set a timer and be done right when it goes off or else they lose wii the next time. They also lose screen privileges if they fight, or I take a game away for awhile if they keep fighting over a specific one. They don't have much time to spend on screen time during the week because they usually have schoolwork and housework to do.

On most Saturdays, my husband kicks me out of the house while he and the kids clean. Once the house is clean, then they play wii with him until I get home that afternoon and we make dinner.

That's just here though. I am sure it will change again as the kids get older and we move and schedules change. Good luck figuring out what works for you and your family!

Jen said...

Ugh, we haven't had much of a system lately, but that's my fault. However, since the oldest has nearly straight A's (math is her only tricky subject) and the younger one refuses to do anything before her homework is complete...well, I'm hardpressed to say no.

Generally, I set the timer for the younger one for 30 minutes or so. If we have down time later in the day and I don't need help with dinner or chores, I'll let her have a bit more time.

I would say sample a few different methods and see what works for you...don't think you can go wrong that way!

Z. Marie said...

I think everyone else's ideas for video game limits are good. Not that I've ever done such a thing. But I do monitor how much homework gets done before other things can be. (Laura gets homework weekly, not daily, so it's usually completed a little at a time.)
I keep meaning to ask -- and perhaps you mentioned it in a previous post I missed somehow -- how you decided on the master's program you did. And a related question, do you plan to do something related to that, job-wise, after you're done?

Robin said...

I don't know about video games - we aren't really gamers. But the computer? Whew baby. I installed Safe Eyes software and it not only monitors content of the web but can track and limit time online. So I set my kids up for say 15 minutes per day (or more depending on grades and chores) and also set up times for when the computer can be accessed for each child. It eliminated all discussion and nagging about computer time and I felt more comfortable with my kids having access to the www.

Anonymous said...

So I actually saw the post title two days ago but didn't have time to read it right then -- but STILL had that song in my head for days!


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