The best part about reducing screen time this summer has been keeping the house clean even with the kids home all day. I know, you are probably shaking your head thinking I’m full of crap but it’s true. There is one thing they want bad enough,so they do it. But they do a great job of avoiding cleaning at all costs.
Yes, the kids make messes all day long but in order to get their devices later, they must clean up said mess. The one caveat is that one child cannot get on their electronics until everyone is finished. This ensures huge amounts of team work by encouraging others to finish so they can all get rewards.
Avoiding Chores At All Cost Encourages Imagination
Like most they don’t want to clean, but they know their chores must be tackled before the devices come out. One or two kids will be milling around, concocting a game in order to avoid picking up their stuff. When I see this happening, I can’t help but giggle. Little do they know that I would rather have them engage in creative play than clean. When I hear them get sidetracked, I feel as if my chuckles will help them figure out my master plan.
Until they are settled into their game, I keep up pretenses by lays toys I find on the kitchen table for the owners to claim. They know if they don’t put these away, they will find their way into the trash.
The goal here is two fold:
- I giving them a responsibility to clean up their messes before they get a reward
- By having them doing chores first, their imaginations are running wild.
Yesterday, I had sorted all the laundry into their individual piles. This is their least favorite thing to do but it is a must before doing anything fun. As I was straightening, I would walk by my room and the piles were still there; for several hours.
Avoiding Cleaning Brings My Children Together
The house was so quiet, that I ventured upstairs quietly as to not disturb them. At the top of the stairs, I heard all four kids quietly playing in my daughter’s room with their Beanie Boos. I dare not enter for fear that they would stop their game. Instead I smiled, knowingly, and walked away.
While the kids have played together fairly well, this summer they have gotten more chances to interact with one another. They aren’t focused on their video games as much. When they do get on their devices, they might be physically sitting next to each other, but they aren’t present.
The more I take away their devices, the messes around the house get much bigger. While the mess itself makes me a little antsy, I know they are actually using their brains. I have seen them transform into more empathetic humans as they become aware of their surroundings.
Whenever they are engaged in electronic game play, they become so focused on what is happening on the screen. Someone could be bleeding right next to them and they would never know. They still get into “zombie mode” as soon as they power up their devices but the majority of the day they are interacting with real life humans.
Sure, the chores might not get done in the manner that I want but it doesn’t matter as long as it gets done before they pull out their devices. More importantly they work together as a team and can distract one another from the boring task at hand to go play something more fun. They are learning that there is a world beyond their screens providing them with memories to last a lifetime.