I am finding that the older my kids get, the less control I have over them.
I just blew your mind, right?
I am at my best as a mother of babies and toddlers who do what I want, when I want, and if they don’t, that’s fine as I will just pick their tiny little bodies up and move them. Don’t want to go on a ride? No biggie. I have this handy little seat thingy that I will strap you into and federal law requires that you will not be able to undo yourself until I say you can. Don’t want to come inside when I say? Fine, as I will just pick you up kicking and screaming and your kicks feel like butterfly kisses on my massively strong arms.
I realized my control was wavering a few summers ago. We were at the zoo with friends, it was very hot, and a 9-year-old Avery decided to take a glass of water and dump it over his head. Not only that, at the moment he did it, a mother with a baby in a stroller was walking by and he missed himself, but dumped the entire glass on the baby. I was mortified, and demanded he apologize. He was equally mortified and embarrassed and didn’t want to. Six months earlier, I would have lifted his tiny body and carried him to the family and made his mouth move in the direction of an “I’m sorry,” but when I tried to physically move him, he resisted. And his resistance was just enough, and his weight was just enough, that there was nothing I could do but stare him down. And I did. It lasted 45 minutes, but we were not leaving until he apologized.
Forget it now, as at age 11, he is my size equal. Or close. I have an inch on him. But this means I am not physically forcing him to do anything he doesn’t want to. Ever.
One of the areas that we used to have complete control over is screens. TV, computer, video games. We call all of those screens at our house because I have said before “No TV! Go outside!” only to find someone hidden under the bed with a Nintendo DS, playing dumb, saying “You only said TV.” So, screens.
Some screens are harder to control than others, especially once kids enter school. Kids genuinely need to use the computer and internet for assignments and other programs like Accelerated Reader, IXL, Spelling City, and any other variety of learning tools the teachers require. However, on more than one occasion, a great battle begins when I declare 5 more computer minutes and I hear the “I only have one more thing to do” reply. Yeah, sure you do.
So I found something magical. Something wonderful. Something I love. Something my kids hate.
It’s a free downloadable program called Timeout. (http://www.romacocanada.ca/timeout/)
Timeout is a program that allows you – the parent – to assign daily quotas to everything on your computer. I have mine set up to allow a one hour limit to each computer session. I can change it for more or less time easily. And then, within that limit, you can set a separate internet limit, which comes in handy when your child wants to play with Word or Powerpoint but you don’t want them on the web. There is also a Daily Total Usage timer, which allows you to see how much time is actually spent on the computer. There are also parental controls you can use to block certain sites, but we have separate software for that (that’s a whole other blog on its own).
My kids hate this. I love it. It gives a 5-minute warning to save what you are doing, and then a password protected screen comes up. You have the option of extending time, and as I am not a total jerk and understand sometimes there is a genuine need for more time, it is easy to extend.
The beauty of this is that it takes me out of it. They know how much time they have and there is no fudging it. Also, it is easy enough to password out the limits for adults if needed. However, I have been keeping the session limits in place for myself for fun. Well, not fun. It has been a sad little eye-opener as to how much time I spend on the internet myself.
I like to think of this as a little way I am getting control of my kids back. For a little while longer, my thumb will be pressed firmly upon them. That, my friend, makes me happy.
How are you regaining control?by