How I limited screen time by offering my kids unlimited screen time.

As a freelancer who makes her own hours,  I’ve learned a few things about personal momentum. I’m a morning person, and my peak productive time is before 10:00am. If I start my day by sitting at the desk at, say, 5:00am, and digging in on actual work, I’ll keep going all day. If I start the day by, say, cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry or phaffing about on the interwebs, I’m in trouble. And if,  God forbid, I sit on the couch and flip on The Today Show, all bets are off; I’m not moving until bedtime.  I think of it as Newton’s Law of Personal Momentum, for I am an object that will either stay at rest or stay in motion, based on where I am at 5:30 am. 

My kids are the same way. And because they are youth existing in the 20teens, they are drawn like moths to glowing rectangular screens as soon as they wake up, and given their druthers, would spend the entire day glued to the Interwebs, killing zombies or mining diamonds or whatever. I know all the reasons why that’s a bad idea, but since my kids are growing up, I don’t feel like it should be up to me to find ways to entertain them. At ten and thirteen years old, they should be figuring out what to do with their own time themselves. But of course, I shouldn’t be surprised when they want to DO MINECRAFT now and do homework later. The problem is, frankly, I’m too lazy to argue with them. I don’t want to do homework, either.

So, I stopped arguing. They need to learn to prioritize their time, and I need to figure out a way to make sure that they get all the things they need to do done without me having to do it.

Which brings me to the Momentum Optimization Project (MOP), or it is more commonly referred to in my house, The List.

The List is simple, it’s short, and in a six month trial at my house, it has shown promising results.

The List is just a list of things things they needed to do EVERY SINGLE DAY. I printed it on a 5 x 8 purple index card, like so:

The Momentum Optimization Project

They’re rules. Not Guidelines.

 [[A quick note on comics]]

I posted The List on what has become the MOP Command Center (i.e., the kitchen cork board) and I told them, sure, you can use the computer, or watch tv, as much as you want, as long as you do ALL THESE THINGS first. 

No compromises. No complaints. No Negotiation. Just do these things. And once those things were done, they could HAVE AS MUCH SCREEN TIME AS THEY WANT.

[Edited to add: Ok, sometimes there are compromises.]

Yup. Complete The List by 8:00 a.m., and you are free to rot in front of the monitor until your eyeballs bleed.

I know what you’re thinking: Surely these two vidiots will devolve into pasty, nearsighted dunces. But that’s where Newton’s Laws come in. I know that if I get them up and out the door bright and early, they’ll be out playing all day. But let them sit down in front of a screen, and they’ll stay there all day.  Like me, they are all about momentum. The simple direction to “do something creative” would get Herself started drawing, or building. The first week, she figured out how to use a hot glue gun and devoted an insane amount of time to constructing a bizarre three story building, complete with a spiral staircase, out of cardboard and wine corks. Himself picked up a novel and wound up blowing through five in two weeks. Homework was suddenly getting done without me nagging. Brownies were baked. Rooms were tidy. And computer time, while still substantial, was contracting. 

It’s been six months, and while the results haven’t been perfect, they’ve been impressive. I’ll update with details soon, but for now, why not get started on a list of your own? You can view my lists here. Let me know if it works for you.

EDITED 6/9/2014 to add: Check out the summer edition of The Momentum Optimization Project.

EDITED 6/11/2015 to add: A Momentum Optimization Project Update

214 thoughts on “How I limited screen time by offering my kids unlimited screen time.

    • Heh. I thought about explaining, but then, if you have to explain, there’s a problem. We have been throwing them into this big bucket for a few years, figuring we’d make some sort of craft someday. And she did!

  1. This is genius. I have 2 mindcrafters and fax e d with t h same dilemma. School’s out in a free week’s so perfect time to begin the MOP!

  2. This is genius. I have 2 mindcrafters and faced with the same dilemma. School’s out in a few weeks so perfect time to begin the MOP!

  3. The only thing that I have an issue with is the “ban” on comics in the reading rule, implying that comic books are not “real text,” when in fact, comic books/graphic novels have just as much intellectual nutritional value as other forms of literature. As someone with a literature degree, which included a course on children’s literature, I have learned that comic books and graphic novels actually play a significant role in children and teen literacy. Honestly, if this mom is struggling with her kids constantly wanting to be engaged in electronic play, she ought to be encouraging any kind of reading, even if it includes comic books… Get them interested in the stories of Captain America, XMen, Flash, whatever… It may not be Shakespeare, but hell, reading graphic novels about super heroes is still reading. I also won’t argue too much against video games because I am aware of the intellectual stimulation that is brought on by strategy games and the connection between gaming and hand-eye coordination, but I still think value should be placed in reading, even if it includes comics. Forgive my tangent, I know that the ultimate goal of this post was to demonstrate how to bargain with kids to get them to do chores and more intellectually stimulating activities before spending the entire day in front of a computer playing games, but I just feel like there could still be some improvements that might even encourage them to have a desire to do other things, like reading, by making reading more fun.

    • Emily: I really appreciate this post. I do encourage comic books–a LOT–for just the reasons you outline (I was won over when my kids were younger by this post). I embraced graphic novels to get my son, who was a very reluctant reader, to start engaging with text, and it worked wonders. I spend hours combing librarian’s blogs for recommendations (so if you have any suggestions, please share them). In short, my kids devour graphic novels and comics. I differentiate them on the list because I’m trying to encourage them to read more challenging, text-driven novels and nonfiction in addition to comics–they can blow through a 200 page graphic novel in one sitting, after all. Reading graphic novels is part of what I call “creative/active/productive time” on The List, which is means they have to just do something that is not electronic in nature. It’s really about getting them to diversify their time, and not spend it all sitting in front of a computer.

      • A to-read list for your kids. Both of them will enjoy them, I’m sure. Just read them first and hand them out as the material is age-appropriate. I don’t know how well exposed your children are, so while some of these would be acceptable for younger audiences, they may not be acceptable for yours. Especially as some of them are fan-translation only right now.
        Ah! My Goddess
        Magi A Labyrinth of Magic
        Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and the ensuing arcs
        Makai Ouji
        Ao no Exorcist
        Any Mobile Suit Gundam
        Mushibugyo
        Baccano!
        Naruto
        Black Bullet
        Black Cat
        Card Captor Sakura
        Chobits (definitely a little older)
        Rurouni Kenshin
        DN Angel
        Fushigi Yuugi
        Full Metal Alchemist
        Soul Eater & Soul Eater Not!
        Fruits Basket

        Under NO circumstances allow them to read : Spice & Wolf, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyoujin), Elfen Lied, or Mirai Nikki (Future Diary) until they are at least 16 or 17 years old. They are great and wonderful manga and anime, but they are VERY explicit and/or violent.

        I realise after typing up this list that most of it will be something that your kids will enjoy when they are a little older than they are now, but while some of it I read as a youth, I’m not in the habit of screening my knowledge of reading material without knowing what they have read before.

  4. So, now do you have any additional “Rules” for the summer, when there isn’t tests and homework to be done really? My daughter does have a homework packet, but it’s already segmented into days of the week with a calendar. My kids are considerably younger than yours, but I could adjust some of this for my 3 and 6 year old. Because, the 3 year old could watch Disney Junior all day if I let her…. Thanks!

    • I wish I knew the answer… I only started doing this in September, and I can tell you it kind of fell apart during the school breaks. It can and should be adapted for age and also situation, and I’m still working out what I’ll do this summer… I’ll be working out the schedule soon and will update!

    • Here’s what has worked for us for the last two summers: Kids must be up (vertical) by 10:00 a.m. in order to qualify for screen time for the day. Also, they can’t have that time until Noon. There are expectations for every day (e.g. shower, make bed), and they are given a specific chore or chores that must be done. Once the daily expectation and chore is done, and it is 12:00 pm, they can have screen time, but only for 2 hours (groan)–and they have to keep track of it (and this is the hardest part)! If they miss the 10:00 a.m. wake-up time, they can “earn” screen time by doing extra jobs around the house. Also, if they want to negotiate for more screen time later in the day, they can easily earn it, provided they have a good attitude and have done what they need to do.

      We have found that this system, once the kids understand that we are serious, works really well. It is especially helpful for our special-needs teen, who needs a lot of structure. However, it also forces the other kids to find something to do that’s not electronic, and that is an important skill. We set the 10:00 wake-up time to help stay on a reasonable schedule so their days and nights don’t get mixed up and cause them to suffer from “jet-lag” when school starts in the Fall. And, yes, we do make exceptions for special events.

  5. Pingback: Tips for Surviving Summer with Older Kids ::

    • For larger projects they should have a schedule for completing an area of the project so that it is completed on time. Should fall into the category “you have marked on the calendar”. Also parents help needed on this one!

    • We try to set daily goals for long-term projects, the same way I do for my freelance work. If there’s a set of pages he has to complete by a certain date, we usually set a goal by pages (or problems, etc). For bigger projects and/or less tangible goals, we try to divide it up by time: Spend 15/30/45 minutes today researching (or reading, writing, revising, etc.).

  6. I love the idea of the MOP but I’d like to expand on the summer question: Do you have a stay at home parent in your house? If not, how would you adapt this theory accordingly if the teen was at home without the parent? I would also love to know what the consequences are (or would) be if the screens were caught glowing before the MOP is satisfied. Thanks!

    • Consequences are always TEASPOT. Take everything away for a short period of time. Take away tv, computer, anything fun for 1-3 days depending on rule broken. No parent home? My son sends pictures of completed tasks to me.

  7. I may have to implement this, despite the fact that there are no children, or even other people in my house . . .
    Thanks for the idea.

  8. I let my kids have a healthy dose in June because we do “No Tech July” for the entire month of July at the house. Yep, no tv, no computers, no iPods, even for the adults (at the house, not for work, and not if you work from home…people get nutso with the “yeah well what about this or that” when I tell them we do this) Yes, we use our phones for phone calls, we don’t consider that tech, plus, after the first two years I realized I need to have email access for sports teams and camp info and stuf so I check once in am and once at pm. Also, kids are allowed to do tech outside of our house but they don’t have their iPods anyway. They can watch tv at grandmas, play the computer at the library (haha, ironic hey?), that kinda stuff. We’re having our 4th year this July and my kids are ages 4, 7, 11, 13, 15. You should give it a try, it’s my favorite month of the year (not their favorite month really but they always find stuff to do at the house that’s for sure)!

    • Are your 11 and 13 yo boys? If so, what do they like to do by themselves that isn’t screen related? My 9 yo is an only child and I work from home…

      • My older child is a boy. When he was nine, I admit that I did let him hang on the computer A LOT to keep him out of my hair when I was working. For a nine year old, I did find that I was able to get him to do other things with his time was to just give him a mission, with a timer (read this book for 25 minutes; go play lego for 25 minutes). Once he got going on something that was fun,he’d generally stick with it for longer than 25 minutes. I also spent a lot of time combing through reviews to find books that I thought he would like, and it paid off. He was not an early reader, or an avid reader, until about 5th grade, but he reads regularly now (although not as much as he plays video games!). Just bear in mind, it does get easier as they get older–nine is tough, as they’re probably too old to get a babysitter when you’re home, but too young to go out and just hang out on their own.

        One thing I do is to tweak my hours so I can spend some of their sleeping hours working, and then be available to do stuff with them when they’re awake. I posted a bit on that today: http://wp.me/p4idnM-5X

      • Yes, my 7, 11 and 13 are boys. The 4.5 and 15 yr olds are girls. I stock up on creative/building things from resale shops (just scored a TON of stuff for $46 last night). Also, one year my most non-reader of the boys, actually picked up a Harry Potter book and finished it!! You do have to get a little creative but the rewards of being more engaged and present with yourself, your family and your home is startlingly amazing!

    • I love this idea (no tech July) so much, but I’m certain I couldn’t do it myself–we went without tv/internet for a month after Hurricane Sandy and I think it I missed internet more than I missed heat or hot water. But I think that limiting things inside your house but not ALWAYS (eg, you can watch tv at Nana’s) is such a wise way to put down limits without being draconian about it. We are attempting to make our house a junk food free zone in the same way–you can eat whatever you want when you are out, but I’m not putting junk in my grocery cart!

      • I’m trying this rule for language. (sh@#, f#$%) There are times when my son can use language that I’d not want in the house, or have him heard by other adults, or even other kids. But when his friends are using it socially, I don’t really mind if he does it with them only . As long as he’s not offending or offensive to people. He’ll have to make a judgement call on that, and that is a tricky skill to learn.

    • Sorry, this simply wouldn’t work for me. While I do have a ton of print books, the one’s I’m currently reading are on my ipad, and I’m most likely to get my next ones digital too. Same for news, There’s really no point in getting a news paper anymore since you can get multiple sources online much more quickly and without wasting paper. For creativity, I do my photo processing on my computer and I have song sheets and guitar exercises on my ipad. I also have Rocksmith on my xbox . My calendar is also on my portable devices and synced through Google and Outlook. There’s nothing wrong with technology, just depends on how you use it.

      • Hi Jason, no need to apologize if our No Tech July doesn’t work for you. Also, if you reread my posts you’ll notice that I never even hinted there was anything wrong with technology. I do find it curious when I mention to people that we do No Tech July how defensive some will get listing the myriad of ways there would be absolutely no way they could or would possibly consider such a respite from technology. The thing is, all I’m doing is sharing something we do at our house because it might spark an interest with someone else (that’s how I found out about No Tech July in the first place, I read it somewhere…ironically in a paper magazine!), just as the original poster of this blog did, we’re not asking congress to pass legislation to impose our ideas on all. I will never understand how defensive and argumentative some will be over other’s simple act of idea sharing, strange use of time.

    • I guess I hadn’t expected this to go beyond my house when I wrote it, so it was written in our own in-house code, so to speak. I am trying to get my kids to get started on things they usually procrastinate on. They love comics, and I spend an insane amount of time and money finding and buying graphic novels for them–so it’s not something I need to “ping” them on, so to speak. Comics were an invaluable step in getting my kids to read longer, more involved narratives (and in fact, the first iteration of the LIST, and the current Summertime list, make no such distinction). But they need to incorporate more complicated, text-only material (especially non-fiction) into their media diet in order to keep up with assignments at school–my son, in particular, must read and summarize 5 news articles a week–he tends to put it off until the last minute. So that’s the reason behind the “real text” line here. But you are not the first person to comment on this misleading wording–I didn’t mean to imply that comics are not “real” text–and it definitely merits a follow up, and I will get on that immediately.

  9. Thanks for sharing this. It’s given me a fresh perspective on what it means to require some actions or activities of children. It’s been a year of new experience for me—I’ve started working at a center for teens that’s entirely self-directed and non-coercive. But giving kids some distribution requirements and a lot of freedom both in how they enact them and what they do afterwards—that seems really good to me. Plenty to ponder. Cheers!

  10. Love it! I run a before and after school child care and provide an iPad for each child. I also have a list of requirements that the kids have to do accomplish every day – homework, 5 minutes of math flashcards, 5-15 min reading (time depends on grade) – and only after all of that is done can they use the iPads. Amazingly, for the most part, the iPads just gather dust. They really only use them on rainy days when we can’t go out to the playground.

  11. Pingback: Summertime | Home Baked

  12. Pingback: How I limited screen time by offering my kids unlimited screen time. | Narrowback Slacker | Mommy's Knowledge

  13. I love your idea as we are trying to get our screen zombies (10, 15, 17: all boys ) under control. I saw your consequence if they have screen time before they complete the list, but my question is, what happens if they don’t finish by 8am? They are running behind? Get up late, etc?

  14. Pingback: The diet of a committed media omnivore | Narrowback Slacker

  15. Pingback: The media ominivore’s dilemma | Narrowback Slacker

  16. Pingback: Let’s Get Moving – Summer Edition | Mad Scientist.Crazy Mom

  17. This sounds like a whole lot of “I want my kids doing more things that I did when I was a kid.” The first item in your list is a lot like saying, “No using the washing machine until you use a washboard for at least one load.” There is lots of great reading online. As far as the 4th item, there is plenty of crafty things you can do with a computer or a tablet. I’m a software developer, so I spend 40-60 hours/week doing crafty things on the computer… and I get paid fairly well for it. Even if your children aren’t into development, there is still graphic design, blogging… even creating social networking sites or playing MineCRAFT can be CRAFTy. Why not utilize the glowing boxes to accomplish the things your children should do?

  18. Pingback: Unplugging children’s imaginations | jsb

  19. “They’re rules. Not Guidelines.” —–> I absolutely love this one! I have done something similar during the summer holiday to get ready for new rules after our summer holiday 🙂 Teenager in our house is up for a new life ha ha 🙂

  20. I have been using this off and one for the past month and IT WORKS (though i had to limit reading till the other stuff was done as my kids will simply sit and read all day and do nothing else). The ONLY days we have conflict in the house are the days that I didn’t have MOP up and in force. Such a great idea.

  21. Pingback: Trying Something New| Thoughts for Tuesday | Melinda Bartnik Photography

  22. I’ve always thought “screen time” was a silly idea. I think it’s important to consider what’s on the screen. Maybe it made more sense back when screen time just meant television. The idea that sitting and watching Spongebob should be tossed into the same bucket as playing educational games is wrong-headed thinking.

    You shouldn’t let a four year old watch cartoons all afternoon but if he wants the iPad for coloring and doing puzzles he should be welcome to it. Nine year old wants to lay on the couch and watch Pokemon all afternoon. Not happening. Want to play Minecraft with your friends all afternoon? Yes! I say that because I’ve seen what kids can do in their Minecraft Realms. I’ve seen the worlds, cities and buildings these kids built.

    That’s creativity, it may not be the traditional 3R’s but it’s still learning, it’s still expanding minds, and making ideas a reality, albeit virtual. That’s technically “screen time”, but those are experiences that not only build minds, but friendships and teamwork. I don’t think that sort of screen time should be limited.

    What other tools for creativity and learning do you arbitrarily limit? Do you have a hard rule on “paper time”?

    • Actually, I would limit paper time if that were a problem. But it’s not a problem. The screen is just a medium, and I have no problem with kids using the computer for anything. We watch all our tv online; we read on kindles; we listen to music using devices, and the games they like are a great way for them to be creative while also socializing with friends. BUT: at least when the weather is nice, kids should not be spending ALL of their time sitting in chairs indoors, whether they are staring at screens or books. They need to get out and be physical, to see people face-to-face, and to contribute something to the management of this house and to the community as well. Spending “some time” is online is fine; even “a lot of time” is ok with me. But not ALL of their time. That’s my point. There’s no “time limit” on the screen, just a priority list of other things they must do first.

  23. Thank you for sharing your experiment. I am looking forward to your Fall update! We have been using the “coupon system” for years. Three 30-minute coupons for screen time. Once they are used, they are done for the day. This worked well when my son was younger. But the system is tired and we now have more whining, negotiating, and deferred responsibilities. How has your system worked while school is in session? Does that mean there is no screen time before school starts – If they do all their morning “work” do you allow 15-20 minutes of tv or computer? We are looking forward to trying something new! Thank you!

    • We have a very basic, non-negotiable “no screens during the school week” rule. Obviously if it’s needed for homework it’s allowed, but no lolling around in the afternoon watching cartoons. My kids are 6, 8, and 10 and while they definitely enjoy time playing on the computer they would really rather be outside building a fort with the neighbors than creating a virtual world inside. Every now and then I tell them that if they are ready for school by 7:15, they can have 15 min of tv before we leave. It usually gets them moving faster and there’s less whining about having to make their beds.

  24. Love it. My son is 7 and this past school year he had to pour and eat his cereal, clean up his dishes, brush his teeth, get dressed, brush his hair and fill his water bottle for his lunch bag each morning before screen time. We never had to bug him to be ready in time for school, nor did he ever sleep in. This year we’ll add more to his list. Thanks for the ideas!

  25. What did you do to implement this when not all on the list was done? I have kids who will complete a partial list and then go to screens.

  26. It’s an okay start. But you should work towards a much longer list. How about 90 minutes of reading – half of the time from books of YOUR choosing? And you should ultimately ban Minecraft and video games in general (plus color TV) because they are fifty times worse than what most people think. This might seem like relative genius…but my 8 and 9 year old kids (who often read 400+ pages a day) would burst out laughing at how short and easy the list is. Maybe say, “Once the list is done…you can have 25 minutes of games.”? But again, you should work toward the ideal of zero games and zero TV.

    • I think you might be missing her point. I also think that telling her that something she created for her children is an ok start if she completely changes it into something else by the time it’s done is a little arrogant, don’t you think? There is a social component to video games and television culture that is missing when go completely without television or internet. If you doubt me, I challenge you to find a happy well adjusted person who was raised totally without tv and ask them about how it played a part in their social isolation. I think the point of the article, if I’m not mistaking it, is moderation. Our children are part of this world. We don’t own them. We don’t get to keep them. We are just borrowing them from the future. TV and video games are experiences they will share with their peers. They just shouldn’t be ALL of their experiences.

  27. I’m just wondering if there are any consequences to not doing all the requirements on “the list” prior to screen time. Do they lose screen time the next day?

  28. I don’t have kids, but I think this is an incredible idea and will definitely use it when I do take the leap into having kids! Thanks for sharing. (And I think my cousins who do have kids will really appreciate this!).

  29. I really enjoyed this post and feel the same way about productivity and screen time. I manage the republished content for familyshare.com. Would you be interested in republishing this post on the site? If so, please email me at cerickson@familyshare.com and we can discuss it further.

  30. I think this is misguided. The issue is that so-called “screen time” is being made synonymous with mindless zoning out, and nothing could be further from the truth. Content is what is most important here. Using screen time as a catch all means that watching American Idol is the same as watching Cosmos. It would mean that playing Minecraft is the same as watching a TED talk. In addition, have you considered that 4 of your 6 “must do” items can be performed fabulously using an electronic device?

    1. You have read real text for at least 25 minutes.

    Virtually all books now are available electronically. They are cheaper than hard copies, they are a greener solution, and allow for readers to easily store several books at one time. In addition, mobile devices offer functionality not found in traditional means. If your child is reading text that is particularly challenging, the device can read passages to them. In addition, if a reader isn’t able to use context clues to discern meaning, there is a dictionary built into most devices.

    2. All your homework is done.

    Mobile devices offer myriad functionality that not only will help students complete homework, but also enables teachers to redefine what homework is.

    3. You have marked the calendar…

    An online shared calendar is far more efficient and comprehensive method of keeping track of busy family schedules. In addition, maintaining calendars electronically provide several features such as Alerts that can be set to remind of important events.

    4. You have done something creative, active, or productive for at least 45 minutes.

    Have you ever watched a group of kids making a movie with iMovie on an iPad? How about a kid composing an original piece of music with GarageBand? This is not to say that there are infinite ways in which a child can be creative using non-electronic means, but to just classify electronic, as screen time, is to really undervalue and marginalize what is an extremely powerful resource.

    • Actually, the issue in my family is exactly that screentime is often synonymous with mindless zoning out, despite my best efforts to get them to use the machines more creatively. That’s not the case for every family or every child–and I hope that, as my children grow up (and with some prodding) they’ll learn to use the computer in ways other than as static consumers of media (and btw, I love consuming media, too). As noted elsewhere in this blog, my goal is to get them to diversify their time more than they have been, and to learn to prioritize their time more effectively. Oh, and pitch in on household tasks while they’re at it.

  31. I like. When mine were younger, every morning I gave them quarters. Each quarter represented 15 minutes of screen time of their choice. They handed me their quarters and told me their choice. As time went on? The system disappeared for various reasons. Now? The hard part for me? My kids check most of these boxes already on your list and STILL they spend too much time in front of the screen…so what do I actually put on the list? 😉 I mean, my eldest, just now a senior in H.S., turning 18 in a few months, had his first more-than-full-time job this summer (off to work by 7:30 home around 10pm…) and when he had his day off? He’d opt for gardening and YET, still could find HOURS to spend watching Anime. My point? I’m finding my kids are good at juggling the whole-screen-time-vs-non-screen-time better than I can battle it.

  32. LOVE this! I’m the same as you in so many respects – OMGosh! My hubs sent me this for that reason! And I just started employing “the list” in our house two weeks ago, a shade different but with the same thought in mind. Results so far? Oh, it’s working. Yes, muahahahaha, lol 😉

    Whew. Thanks for this 🙂

    Continued good luck to you and yours 🙂

  33. We have a very similar program I’ve started at my house. I have a question though. Some of my children are better at managing this list than others, and if one finishes the list before the others have, somehow they all end up in front of the glowing screen. I hate to punish the one who is being responsible, but the others can’t seem to focus on anything else with a screen on. I’m not against TV or video games, it’s the zoning out to the point of not hearing me when I talk to them that I don’t like. Any suggestions?

    • IT’s a tricky business, isn’t it. I hear you on the zoning out thing–that’s my key issue too! I only have two kids, but what I have done is kept the computers in a separate room, and the offending child just isn’t allowed into that area. Oh, another thing that I did with my oldest that has really paid dividends is praise him effusively whenever he did stop what he’s doing immediately and do what I ask him to (or even just acknowledge me: “hey mom, I’m just in the middle of this mission, give me two minutes?”). Seriously, it is like training a dog: Pats on the head for preferred behaviors really do pay off.

  34. I’m a singer/songwriter for children when not touring as drummer for Arlo Guthrie. I made this little video of my song that deals with this topic. Please take a minute and share with others if you will.

  35. Thanks for sharing your list. It’s giving me some ideas about how to go about getting my son engaged in other activities on days when he has a lot of free time. When I read the post, it seemed pretty clear that you were sharing what works for your kids, in your situation, based on your beliefs and ideas about what is best for them. I didn’t see it as an edict, and I realized that my list would be different than yours. The value of the post was that it got me thinking about a way to structure my day that would work for me and my family.

    What I find interesting is the varied responses to your post. It’s one of the scary things (to me) about blogging. On one hand, I want very much to share my thoughts and ideas more widely, but I also understand that I can end opening myself up to all kinds of criticism from readers who may either disagree or simply not understand the intention of a post. The interaction is both exciting (people are reading your ideas and engaging with you) but for me, I find that I can’t help but take it personally if someone attacks me (however mildly) online. And then I end up taking loads of time crafting a response, and can suck up a lot of time and emotional energy. So I end up rarely posting anything. Anyway–thanks for sharing your list!

    • Chimera: You are spot on in that second paragraph–it is sort of terrifying. It’s been a big get-out-of-your-comfort-zone thing for me, and I’m still not sure I’m comfortable with it at all. Writing is a time-consuming thing, and putting together a worthwhile read takes a lot of energy, and time spent defending your posts to critics would probably be better spent writing something interesting. Still, I do find myself defending, or at least explaining, what I’ve written. I probably should stop.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s