Getting my kids unplugged
How do you unplug or monitor your kids on electronics? What's the best way to limit them without feeling like its a punishment? These were my questions and this is what I cam up with. I would love to get your ideas and tips.
The ultimate goal as a parent is to raise future members of society. There are so many aspects of life you have to show and teach them. From manners to culture to hygiene to knowledge, its all important. I set out to be a parent with well-rounded children. I learned to pick and choose my battles (for the most part) and I realized as they get older that even my discipline has to have meaning. I call it Parenting with a Purpose (might be a book one day).
All kids need the basics, food, clothing, shelter but we, as parents have to provide more to that. We have to show them its not just about wearing clothes but being appropriate in what we wear and being presentable. We have to show them that there’s more to life than mac and cheese and chicken nuggets but also how to eat so you don’t look like an animal. We have to teach them value in the home we provide for them and how to take care of their own things. On top of all that we have to teach them how to be friends, how to stick up for themselves, how to listen and follow rules, how to function in society. This is a big responsibility.
Our society has changed into a plugged in world. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. I get to share my tips and advice with other moms because of blogging but you lose that connection. That real world interaction. As adults most of us are aware and that’s because we grew up without it. It a lot harder for our kids because its their norm. This is another situation where I realized I had to teach them to unplug. This means more rules for the house. When it comes to electronics I had to look at my rule very carefully because it is everywhere. From their computers, to phones, to hand held gaming systems to tv to video games, its all over. What I have found is that now they get bored easily and they need constant stimulation. I won’t go into the types of kids this creates. We create the kids we want. We have the power to stop it and say “No more”. I did this recently. I watched that without limitation they will stay on the computer or video game for hours.
This is my “Unplugged Rule”. We have it all. Our kids are spoiled and that’s another blog topic but this one deals with the fact that they do own 3-4 gaming systems, they have a TV in an upstairs media room, they each have a computer (mostly for school) and they both have a phone. Every time we turned around they were plugged in, zoned out and mesmerized by a screen of some kind. It drove me nuts. They couldn’t function. I started out by making it even and saying they had to be an hour on and an hour off. I also taught my kids to be problem solvers so they started being tricky with their new rule and would use the hour off to eat lunch or dinner or shower. This was not my intention when I wanted them unplugged.
I realized I needed to be specific with the rule. One hour of non-electronic activity with a list of options.
Reading a book
Playing a board game
Playing outside with friends
Playing inside with friends (Nerf wars, making forts, dancing)
Being creative (coloring, making bracelets, doing Legos)
This gave them an hour to play with their electronics. They got an hour only. They have to decide what they want to play. This did not include doing chores or eating. This was specific. We also lead by example and would join in the board game with them. This turned into a fun game night with the whole family.
I use to have to drive an hour one way for work and the kids would use that as an hour of non-electronics there to be able to play electronics back. Since we moved I don’t drive as much and I noticed that they barely read. They like to read but between all the other options for some reason reading is not something they pick often. I added a new rule that they had to read when in the car. Whether its going to the store or an hour drive to a park. If they are in the car they are reading. Every now and then when its a long drive to the beach I will surprise them and let them play for 30 minutes before getting to the beach. This adds to their reading habits.
The final part of the electronics rule is no electronics other than tv before 11 A.M. and no electronics after 10 P.M. unless we are watching a movie as a family. This encourages them to want to be with us as a family and it lets their brains settle down for the night. They fall asleep better and stay asleep longer now.
Unplugging the kids does so much for them being active and social with their friends. Their friends follow with it also. It gives them time management skills and they even plan their evening to start electronics at a certain time so they can be done right at 10. This is another example where they are self sufficient. I don’t have to watch them or monitor their use. They set timers. If they go over they lose 15 minutes the next day. Their punishment would be an hour off = 45 minutes on, all day. They are too scared of that thought and I rarely have an issue with going over. It also shows them that its not the end of the world with the game they are playing. Their “real” lives matter more than beating a level.
We go bowling with their friends and see them on their phones and my kids are the ones realizing that its rude and unnecessary. We try to be the best examples of giving them our attention. We don’t allow our phones at the table when we are eating. We don’t spend time on the phones when we are together as a family (beach, theme park, bowling). We want to show them that its important to give your attention and enjoy the company. They see that we stop what we are doing on the computer to listen to them. It shows a consideration to others. I do notice that when we talk at dinner they are animated and are engaged and really want to tell us about their day and their lives (even if it is a new level they beat). I see that it brings balance to their lives and that’s all I want.
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