Thursday, February 26, 2009

Limiting Scream Time

Guess what? Charlie is totally addicted to the computer. Where, I wonder, could he have picked up such a nasty habit?

So, in an effort to wean the boy off of this seemingly innocent piece of machinery, we are limiting screen time. This, has an inverse effect on scream time: the less screen time, the more scream time we experience. This has not been an easy habit for Charlie to kick.

Last week we were all sick and it seemed like Zee and Moose A. Moose (of Noggin fame) had unpacked their little suitcases and moved into our living room permanently. The first few bars of "Everywhere I Go" is enough to send me over the edge at this point. And now we are getting Noggin piped in through the computer as well, thanks to and my addict son.

I told the kids that we needed to limit screen time in an effort to not have our brains turn to mush. We talked about things that have screens...Leapsters have screens, computers, TVs, portable DVD players, Daddy's Blackberry (talk about addiction...) , and Charlie pointed out that windows also have screens. Touche, Charlie, touche. So we're limiting screens that you have to plug in. (She said, while typing on the computer. ahem.)

One thing we've been doing to ease the withdrawal symptoms, is to have family drawing time. I cannot take credit for this idea I got it from this book. So far family drawing time has been a smash hit. It is a great way to kick off the morning and a great way for us to do something quiet together that we all enjoy. When was the last time you drew a picture? It had been a while for me, but it is amazing how therapeutic it can be. I even sharpened a pencil today. I might as well have been churning my own butter, it felt like such a throwback to yesteryear to watch pencil shavings collect in the little pencil shaving collector thingy.

So, family drawing time is very simple. Really it's no different than any other drawing time; it's just marketed better. Giving it a name (Family Drawing Time) makes it seem official, as does having special paper and supplies reserved just for FDT. The other special thing about Family Drawing Time is that you're all doing it together (it's not mommy empties the dishwasher while the kids draw time), and really that is what kids want more than Leapsters or their own iPhones: our undivided attention. I don't mean to sound preachy here; really I'm talking to myself.

Now, I don't want you to think I'm some purist. I did say we're limiting screen time, not cutting it out altogether. I admire the moms who can make it through the day without a little Max and Ruby or Toot and Puddle. However, I have come to terms with the fact that as much as I'd like to be, I'm not one of those moms. I need a break sometimes and so do my kids. And I personally enjoy a little 30 Rock or tivoed Oprah in the evenings, so I'd feel pretty hypocritical denying my kids the same pleasure. And, hello? I'm a major computer junkie and would be on the thing all the time if not for trying to set a good example for Charlie. Checking facebook while Charlie's in the room is kind of like sipping a crisp chardonnay in front of a pregnant woman. I totally get his obsession with the computer, but it's my job as his mommy to not let the obsession get too out of control.

I will say one thing that I keep thinking of when I think of Charlie's computer addiction. You never know where an interest like that can lead. I heard an interview with Malcolm Gladwell recently where he was talking about his latest book Outliers. Maybe you've heard of this book, but the general gist is that he wrote a book about exceptional people and what common traits or backgrounds they all share. Basically, he was trying to get at what made these people so successful. I haven't read the book, but in several reviews and interviews about it, it is mentioned that one of the reasons Bill Gates became such a success is that he had rare access to a computer as a child in prep school. Not that Charlie is the next Bill Gates or anything (he totally is), but it does seem like if a child is naturally interested in something and shows some talent for it, then they should be encouraged in that area. So, basically, what I'm getting at is that computers and TV aren't all bad. They appeal to some of us more than others and they are tools for making our lives easier and more fun and could possibly lead to Charlie becoming a cajillionaire someday (you never know). Everything in moderation, I say.

First though, we need to work on Charlie writing all the letters in his name in the right order.

And now screen time is officially over. Next order of business: laundry time!


Jennifer said...

But is it FAMILY laundry time???

Elizabeth said...

Ha ha. I wish.

Grace said...

Ha Ha! I'm so suprized that Charlie is adicted to computer. Well, I don't know charlie that well because we are like a cadrilliancazillian miles away. And only one e-mail away.. hmmmm
Did you know I got a computer? I don't like to brag or anything...
It's a desktop one. it doesn't have internet connection yet.

carolebrad said...

Hi Elizabeth...I must tell you that I've been keeping up with your blog for at least a year and I SO ENJOY IT! You really do such interesting things with your children. I noticed that you are reading two of the books that I just purchased myself: The Five Love Languages of Children and I Was Told There Would Be Cake. I'm looking forward to getting into them. Give Brandon greetings from Bill and I. caroleb (Carole Bradley)

Robin said...

Yeah, I'm totally shocked that Charlie is highly technical in his talents. :) Bless his heart and yours as you limit his screen time. Clara is WAY into which we use as a motivational tool (if she still has four out of five marbles in her jar at the end of the day, she gets to read a story or two before bed). I am glad to have the tip to limit screen time thanks for sharing. And congrats on the new car. So fun!!


Sherie said...

You are one of the best Moms ever and I totally agree that Charlie Bill could be making a cajillion dollars some day - look at who his parents are. You and Holly win "Mom of the Year" award in my book for loving your kids the way you do and giving them a childhood that they will always treasure. They will be doing so many great things with their children, sorry, getting a little carried away, but it is so wonderful to think that your grandchildren will be influenced by what you're doing with your kids today and it's ALL GREAT!! I love you, miss you and Brandon and the kids but am so thankful to get a little glimpse of your life.