I will be the first to admit, our children love their tablets. They love watching YouTube videos of Minecraft gamers and funny videos. At first it was just an occasional thing that they got to watch and/or play. But often times the weather does not permit them to go outside and I am a work-at-home mom, so screen time has become more frequent.
While we take every precaution to make sure our children’s safety and innocence is protected, I do not want them growing up with a device in their hands 24/7. I like to see their big, beautiful eyes. I like to hear their imaginations running wild. And I like to hear the excitement in their voice when they play outside with their friends.
But if I’m being honest…the tablets are all-to-often a babysitter for my kids so I can work or sleep “just a few minutes more.” This spilled over in to the daytime after we had baby #5 back in July and now we’ve gone full-force in to tablet mode again. I have one child who absolutely throws a fit when they have to get off their device for any reason. It isn’t a pretty sight and it is quite honestly, something I dread. In those moments it takes all I have not to scream and make sure they know who’s boss.
However, if you’ve been a parent for any length of time, you know intimidation is not the best approach to parenting. So, I have implemented a new system. We not only have rules for tablet usage, we also have a First Five Rule. This is something tailored to each child and what they need to accomplish each day before they get to spend time on their tablets.
Posting the First Five rules where they can easily see them helps them know what needs to be done before they can have their tablets and their is no argument or wiggle room. Giving them our expectations ahead of time, keeps me from constantly nagging them about their schoolwork or making sure all their clothes are in the hampers come laundry time.
For example, my oldest’s First Five are: read his Bible, school work, dishes, his laundry sorted, read a book for fun (30 minutes minimum) and guitar practice. Once he has finished all five, he can spend time on his tablet with our permissionG. There are days he doesn’t finish all five before we have to leave the house or the end of tech-time, which is 7pm nightly in our house. And on those days, he misses tablet time. But, that is a consequence of not properly managing his time. He is eleven years old and is learning to be responsible for himself and his time usage.
The younger children’s First Five look different, of course, because they are age appropriate. First, let me say that since we homeschool, I do not have a “wake up call” for my children, unless we have a commitment. Two of my middle children are late sleepers, no matter what time they go to bed. They like and need their sleep. I also require my children to get their own breakfast. I was never a big breakfast eater, so I don’t force them to eat breakfast. I want them to eat when they are hungry, not because they are “supposed to eat.” That being said, these are the First Five for my younger children: Eat Breakfast, sort their own laundry in to the hampers, complete school work, Bible time (we do this together) and Violin practice.
Getting kids away from the technology and involved in life around them is not easy, but I know in our house, we all function much better when we have the First Five expectations laid out and enforced.
Let’s Talk: What are your First Five?
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