Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Unplugging our Summer

...in which Victoria realizes she isn't Super Mom
            In a fit of trying to be summertime super-mom, last Monday I announced to my children that they would each have only two hours of “plugged-in” time per day during vacation. Much to my surprise my kids thought that seemed pretty reasonable. I suggested that they carve out four 30-minute blocks to play video games, surf the web or watch TV. I’m not vehemently opposed to electronic entertainment, I simply want the boys to make choices and not just flip on the TV the second they get bored. This way they won’t waste 30 minutes of valuable time watching something they really don’t care about.
            The first day was a bit painful. By 8:00 am I had already yelled at Owen to stop pouting and let me make breakfast. Things improved slowly as the day went on. I found that asking them to help me with various tasks had two possible results. Sometimes it kept them occupied and other times it was the motivation they needed to find something else to do. They were happy to help me load the dishwasher and put the food away after breakfast. But when I needed to spend some time weeding the garden they suddenly wanted to swing on the swing set. We had our ups and downs but by midday they began constructing a fort out of blankets, chairs and pillows in their play area. It was loud in my house, but they weren’t watching TV and they weren’t pestering me or complaining they were bored.
            I had a little more planned for them on Tuesday. We loaded the bikes into the van and went to the park. Both kids have just stopped using training wheels and are enthusiastic to hone their skills. Unfortunately our street is terrible for a beginning cyclist. So the park is a great solution since there are paths to ride on and no cars to worry about. I did need to worry about them mowing down the occasional hapless pedestrian. But it wasn’t especially crowded on a Tuesday morning. They got tired and hot (and super mom forgot to bring water bottles) so we headed over to a shady play area for a while. They met a bunch of new kids.  They played on the teeter-totter, climbed rocks, slid down the slide and even played cops and robbers. I didn’t know today’s children even knew how to play cops and robbers! They were getting fresh air, using their imagination, and not watching TV. I was in Mommy heaven.
            Now if you’re waiting to hear that Wednesday got even better, sorry to disappoint. It was clear on Wednesday that this unplugged thing works best if Mom has a plan and I didn’t. We were going to help make decorations for Vacation Bible School at church at noon, so I figured getting through the first few hours unplugged wouldn’t be a big problem. I gave in and allowed extra TV time just so I could get some ironing done. I would clearly be a more unplugged Mom if I had a maid.
            By Thursday I learned my lesson and did I have a plan! We got haircuts, went to the library, I took them to the Y (free babysitting while I worked out!), and then we went to family swim at the Youth Division Y. It worked like a charm, the kids hardly plugged in all day. There was just one problem. I had to go to work at 6:00. By 2:00 I was so tired I could hardly stand.
So I’ve figured out the some of the secrets to getting the kids away from TV and computers. This week I’m going to figure out how to balance it out so I’m not a zombie by the time I go to work. Anyone have any ideas?