As my boys have gotten older, their toys have gotten more high tech. I'm sure it's the same with most families. Top on their Christmas lists this year were DSi's, which they received.
I had been tempted in years past to get them these hand-held video games, but I saw SO many kids act like complete zombies with them! I'd see these video game zombies out to eat with their families, completely oblivious to anything going on around them. I'd see them at the park, totally engrossed in Mario while other kids are running, swinging and playing!
My worry was that my own children would turn into zombies - they'd have zero social skills, permanently bloodshot eyes from staring at that tiny screen, crooked thumbs from pushing those little buttons all day, and they'd forget how to actually get up and PLAY in real life! I told The Chief and Con-Man from the beginning that there would be time limits in place - they need balance, after all!
It didn't take long before they were glued, though. As soon as homework was done, games were in hand. As soon as dinner was over, or showers were done, or every time we were in the van - games were in hand. I finally decided this was enough! We have a new rule that started last week. They have to EARN their screen time! It's not hard to earn it - basically they have to go the extra mile to help me out. The Chief has gotten creative - he's helped make their lunches in the morning and put up other people's laundry. Con-Man is a pretty reluctant helper, but he's still been picking up the living room and putting school papers away. The best part is that they are excited when they earn the time and they don't argue with me when I say it's time to put the games away! They understand that they only get to play with the time they've earned. I'm loving this system.
The next step of this rule, though was a little challenging for me. I needed an easy way to keep track of the time they earned. I wanted a chart or something easy for them to read, but didn't want to mess with stickers or printing out something new all the time. Plus, how could I show that they used the time???
So this is what I came up with:
The red check marks show the time earned - they are dry erase markers, so I just erase a check mark when they use the time up! And of course these are color coded - like everything else in my house - blue for The Chief, green for Con-Man. These charts will go on a shelf where we keep the DSi's and games so everyone can see at a glance if they've got the time earned!
Want to print your own? Here you go!