Friday, August 20, 2010


I've been struggling a bit with regulating video game time this summer. Our tv token system, which worked fabulously for two years, has been outgrown by the older kids. Since then, it's been them asking, me refusing or allowing with conditions, and on the worst days, endless nagging. (Exactly the routine I was trying to break by implementing the tv token system in the first place.)

I haven't wanted to set a fixed daily time limit ... because then tv time becomes an entitlement instead of a treat, and I never want to face a moment at bedtime of hearing, "Hey! I didn't get to have my Xbox time today!" (Because you KNOW it will happen. This is the same reason we don't have snacks before bedtime.)

This morning, Theo wandered in my room at 8:30, already starting his daily whining routine and gaming requests. My knee-jerk reaction was to say "Are you kidding me? The sun is barely up!", but instead, I paused for a moment and answered thoughtfully instead.

"You want to play on the computer, and I want you to have free play. How can we both get what we want?"

"Well, I could have free play for an hour, then play computer for an hour."

"How about an hour of free play, then half an hour of computer?"

"No way! That's not fair!"

"But free play time and computer time are not exactly equal. That's like saying, if I eat five peas, I should be able to have five pieces of candy."

And this is the part that took me by surprise ...

He started laughing. And laughing.

"Five peas for five pieces of candy? That's crazy."

And then ...

"Okay. One hour of play time and I can play computer at 9:39."

Added bonus: the countdown shout-outs ("Only 48 more minutes! Only 23 more minutes!") See? We got some math in today, too.

All before 9 am.


  1. Great mothers do more by 9:00 AM than.....:-)

    Welcome back!

  2. yeah, we're struggling with this, too. or will be. when i get my act together. i feel the same way about allotted gadget time. this summer there has been way too much (when i was sick it started). so there will be a big shock coming to them when we start up school again.

  3. Speaking of a shock ... I told the kids that we were going to start doing 20 minutes of worksheets every day until the start of school, just to get back in the swing of things. Wow! They didn't like that one bit!