Do I think my children are perfect?
They are beautiful. They are curious and intelligent and hysterical. They are fun and sweet and compassionate. Their eyes are mesmerizing and their voices make my ears happy.
But let me tell you something. They are not perfect.
And it’s all because we aren’t perfect as parents.
Dan and I fell into the electronic trap. You know, that really appealing alone time. The 30 minutes you have alone to just sit. No kids asking for a snack or asking for a hot pink marker not the small kind the big kind and not too pink but just a little pink. questions like that. Little by little, we gave our kids electronic privileges. At first, it was that 30 minutes I was talking about.
“Okay, you guys can watch 1 episode of “Phineus and Ferb,” that’s it.” That time was gold.
But we got a little greedy and 30 minutes after that statement, those kids were running upstairs and wanting more.
It takes a lot of effort to stand your ground. We all know I’m lazy. After that 1 episode came 30 minutes of video games. “But that’s it!”
It wasn’t it.
They’d extend it themselves and even though I knew, I wouldn’t do anything because it was so freaking quiet. Oh, right…because they weren’t playing. They weren’t laughing and pretending and squealing with delight as they chased and chased and chased. The bikes were parked and the crayons were put away and I hadn’t seen a home made book for days.
Jamie started having issues in school. I know it wasn’t solely from electronics, but I do think that because he would close himself off every day after school and play Mine Craft and watch Legos, he wasn’t getting practice in how to be respectful and how to interact with other kids politely and how to respond when asked a question or being told what to do. Of all my children, Jamie is the one who needs the most practice with this. For him, it doesn’t come naturally to think about a thoughtful response and change his voice to reflect his emotions. He’s monotone and many times it comes across as very rude and disrespectful. He asks, “Why?!” without even thinking and that’s not appropriate when your teacher asks you to do a task and that’s your response.
So….we implemented the Electronic Detox. Oooooh Jamie hated us. His first few days were “the worst days ever!” He was “sooooo bored and nothing is fun!” But ya know what? He got on his bike and spent hours outside with his sisters. He explored the backyard and found sticks that turned into swords and he and Alice had some friendly battles. He wrote some comics and illustrated some hilarious stories. He read and read and read and it was easier for him to fall asleep. We are on day 9 and he hasn’t asked to watch tv or play the computer for days.
It’s been work for me. My house is less clean because the kids are always playing and messing it up. But, uhh…..duh, right? That’s what kids do. I’ve remembered the mom I want to be and the type of humans I want to raise and we’re coming back around to it. That’s the best feeling in the world, especially when you start out as a parent with incredibly big goals for your kittens. When you start out as strict and deliberate, it’s an awful feeling to slowly drop that. But to get that feeling back and feel like you’re back on track with your intentions means you’re doing things right again.
My kids no longer watch tv after school and on weekends, they watch 1 movie at night. There are no video games at the moment (the consoles are literally in our room in a drawer) and the computers are password protected. Eventually, maybe they’ll go back to having privileges here and there, but for now? It’s good for us. And it’s been amazing for Jamie.