If you are the parents of boys (or maybe even girls) between the ages of 8 and 14 you probably know what Minecraft is and how it takes over your house. If you don't know what Minecraft is, first thank God in heaven above and then check out this link if you really want to know.
Ryan is totally addicted to this game and it's driving us all crazy! All he wants to do is play it, and when he isn't playing it he wants to watch youtube videos about it, and when he's not doing that he wants to talk about it. As far as games go, I guess it could be worse. Minecraft definitely encourages creativity and problem solving. Ryan has designed some pretty amazing houses and other things in his worlds, and I am always amazed when I see my children navigating computers with such ease.
We have tried many different solutions to the screen time issues in our household all to no avail. We have limited screen time which resulted in a whole lot of arguing day after day. We try to reward good behavior with screen time, which ended up turning into a big wheel and deal every day. We've tried letting him self limit...uh, definitely not ready for that yet. Nothing seems to work.
It worries me to see him staring at a screen for so much of the day. I've noticed when he plays more he doesn't sleep as well and his eyes get all bloodshot. Not to mention the fact that he isn't doing anything active! The problem has been magnified this week since the boys were on spring break. Kel and I have been at our wits' end trying to come up with solutions together with Ryan that get him off the computer and doing other things, but it turns out that instead of focusing on limiting the computer time and figuring out the screen time problem, what we should be doing is offering opportunities for other activities.
Isn't this so true of everything? I'm spending all this time and energy trying to get him to stop playing instead of suggesting and putting into action other possibilities for him. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday, and I am still struggling with some guilt around it. However, instead of wallowing in guilt which will just make me feel bad, I jumped into action.
It is true that often I don't want to do things with my kids. Yes, I just said it. This is real talk, not fluffy Facebook talk about all the crafty things I did with my kids today. Let's face it, sometimes it is just way less stressful to let your kids veg out in front of a screen. If you are not guilty of that you are way better than me! When I really think about it there are a lot of reasons for this. It's hard to find things to do that both Ryan and Noah want to do at the same time. In the past when I tried to do things like this with them it has ended with Ryan melting down in public which is very difficult and not something I care to repeat. Sometimes I chalk it up to expense, both in time and money. A lot of the things that they would really love to do are just expensive. Why do science museums have to be so darn spendy? During weeks like this I am still trying to manage my normal workload on top of having the boys home all day, so time becomes just as precious as money. All of these are valid reasons, however they still don't excuse me from trying to figure out ways to solve this problem.
Kel and I talked with Ryan about it and he came up with a really great solution. He would choose 4 things that he wanted to do each day. (I don't think we will need to do this on school days but definitely on days when we are home all day.) Today he chose go for a walk, play on the playground, go swimming and family game night - all doable and free!
(Don't worry, he didn't fall.)
As I was thinking about creating opportunities for my kids I also realized that I also need to create opportunities for myself. Today I took my TRX to the playground and got a strength workout done (2 down 6 to go!) while the boys pretended (kind of) to do Parkour on the jungle gym. I was able to watch them while they showed off for me ("Mommy, look! Mommy, watch me! Mommy, check this out!" "Mommy, look how high I am!" "Don't worry, I won't fall!!") and get a much needed workout in at the same time. That's what I call a win-win!
We all need to get out their and start creating opportunities for our kids and for ourselves, and all the better if those opportunities are one and the same!!