Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I Took My 4 Kids' i-Pads Away, and It's the Best Move I Made

One day, I'd had enough.

You know what I'm talking about. 

My kids had been playing around on their beloved i-Pads. As the battery life drained, I told them it was time to put the i-Pads away.

You would have thought I told them Christmas was cancelled forever.

There was some sobbing.  Some complaining.  Begging for snacks RIGHT NOW.  Sibling arguing. Whining.  

And this happened every single time.  And I had enough.

So I decided that enough was enough.  And I was going to take my mom power back.

At first, I thought I'd do a ticket system. My kids could earn i-Pad time by behaving.  In return, they'd get a ticket they could turn in to me for play time. But that became to cumbersome.  I mean, what was good enough to get a ticket? How much was a ticket worth? How would I make it "fair and square" when my kids were different ages, with different abilities, and different maturity levels?

Then I thought, what if I do a sticker chart?  Sticker charts have been around for ages, used by moms to reward kids.  But again, it became too much.  A hassle. 

So I decided to go drastic and counter-cultural. 

Instead of threatening to sell the i-Pads, which is what I really wanted to do, I made a single and very firm rule.

Ready?  This is gonna blow.  your.   mind. 

My children are ONLY allowed to have their i-Pads on Friday afternoons, after school, for about two hours. 

Yes, mama.  That's it.  

Was it challenging at first? 

Uh, yeah.  Because everywhere we go, kids are on phones and i-Pads. And because when the kids were "so bored" at home (uh, have you seen your 5,000,000 toy options?), they craved i-Pad time. 

But a few weeks in, the kids knew the rule, and in fact, would remind me and each other of it. When one kid asked, "Can I have my i-Pad?" another kid would say, "We have to wait until Friday." 

Why Friday?

Well, for one, all of us are exhausted.  TGIF, right?  For another, it's not a school night.  

Here's how it works. 

My kids get home from school.  They unpack their backpacks, then eat a healthy snack, and then, once everyone has done those two things, it's i-Pad time.  For two hours.  

I don't force any educational games. I don't hover over them.  They have to stay in the living room (no electronics in the bedrooms).  

After the two hours, it's time for a shower and then dinner.  Then it's popcorn and movie night.  Then bed.  

You might be wondering what's happened since the rule was implemented. 

We were talking to each other.  

They had time to play with their toys.

We took advantage of every nice day, playing outside. 

My children's mood and behavior improved.

There was less arguing and more positive attitudes. 

Everyone was kinder, more patient, and definitely more aware of each other's feelings.

As for me? 

I didn't have to constantly make up new rules and reward/punishment systems.

The only way a child's i-Pad time is taken away is if they use their i-Pad inappropriately (download a game without asking or look up something inappropriate). But this hasn't happened because they're closely monitored, and they certainly do not want their i-Pads revoked!  

I've been asked by so many parents, when I share our rule, "How do you do it?"

They tell me: their kids are addicted to their electronics. The electronics are a great distraction.  But these parents have the same complaints and challenges I did:  their kids are cranky, argumentative, moody, and disengaged.  They aren't happy.  They aren't smarter.  They aren't kinder.  They aren't present. 

So how did I do it? 

It's simple, really.  I'm the mom.  The i-Pads are ultimately mine.  The kids can either follow the rules and enjoy their i-Pad time when given, or deal with the consequences. 

Here's what shocked me at first, and does shock other parents.  THE RULE WORKS.  IT FREAKING WORKS!  

(Also, in case you're wondering, my kids do not have cell phones, and my husband and I DO NOT let our kids play on our cell phones.  NOPE.  I don't have a single game on my cell!  As far as music? There's music on my kids' i-Pads, my kids have radios/CD players, we have a music system in our living area, and I have a super old i-Pod that can be used by the kids occasionally).  

Mamas, give it a whirl.  I know it sounds impossible, but I'm telling you, it's made such a difference in our family!  Try it for a month.  Let me know how it goes! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The 10 Best Picture Books that Teach Children About Slavery and Juneteenth

Slavery and Juneteenth are HARD topics. Thus, many parents do not want to broach them with their children. And there's the argument to be made that we can over-emphasize parts of Black history, including slavery and Civil Rights.

Black children shouldn't be subject to only learning about the hardest parts of history; but we shouldn't avoid the topics either. And let's not forget that ALL children need to learn about "Black history." Because Black history is American history. 

Juneteenth is coming up, (June 19th, for those who aren't aware), which provides us with an important opportunity to talk to our kids about slavery, as well as emancipation.

Here are our favorite children's picture books addressing these difficult subjects. Click on the book cover to read reviews, descriptions, and purchase if you wish: