If this is your first visit to the Focused Moms Challenge, read our introduction post before getting started.
It’s Week Three of the Focused Moms Challenge, and we’ve made it to the half way point! Last week we learned how to unplug a little, so that we could increase our family time and decrease our screen time. Do you know what most of us learned? While we were starting to unplug, our kids were not! So this week, we’re going to turn our attention to them. Be warned, they may not like it!
Our Week Three Crosswalk Safety Tip is “Make Eye Contact With Drivers.” Remember that we are the pedestrians and our children are the drivers! In Weeks One and Two of this Challenge we learned to look at them when we walk out into the crosswalk. But are they looking at us? Let’s work this week to make that happen! Here’s how:
Step One. So that we can work towards having more meaningful interactions with our kids, we’re going to ask them to unplug a little, too. I’m not talking about anything drastic. This week is actually Screen Free Week, but you’d have to be seriously committed to tackle a whole week without any screen time!
Instead, I’d suggest one of two options for the week. You tailor it to what best meets the needs for your family. Option one, which is what I’m going to do, is to have a Screen Free Time set aside each day where no one in the family watches television, plays video games, spends time on their iPod/iPad/Kindle, or gets on the computer. The telephone is okay for talking only. Otherwise, no electronics. Note that I did not say “No ELECTRICITY,” just no electronic media devices getting in the way of quality family time. My family has set aside the hours of 3-7 p.m. this week for our Screen Free Time. But you can and should decide what works best for your crew.
Option two would be to limit the number of hours that you children are exposed to the screen this week. Figure out something that is doable for you and works best for your routine and family life. Maybe your limit would be two hours a day, maybe one hour, there’s no right or wrong answer. To me, this option seemed harder to make work with four kids than just designating a time period on the clock where the screens couldn’t be on in the house. But for some families, this might be more convenient.
A couple of ideas for either option. First, I’m including the car in my Screen Free Time. Of course, that’s kind of easy for me since the DVD player in my car has been taken out for repair! Next, make sure that parents and babysitters honor the Screen Free Time, too! And finally, come up with some fun things to do when the screens are off. Get outside and play, go for a walk, visit the park, take them out for ice cream, plant a garden. Just enjoy each other. Education.com has a fun list of 30 activities for Screen Free Week if you need some ideas!
Step Two. In addition to your Screen Free Time for your family, this week I’d like us to pay closer attention to our use of the phrase “In a Minute.” Many of us, me included, have found through this challenge that we say this phrase a lot (a whole lot). We’ve even found our kids saying it to us when they are sitting at the computer and don’t want to get up to do their homework! Most of the time when we say it we don’t even look up, it’s just coming out of our mouths automatically.
So, instead of saying “In a Minute” try these options. First, just don’t say it! But, I’ll admit that’s hard to do. There are times when our children have to wait for us for one reason or another. We are not capable of being at their beck and call every moment of the day (nor should we be). The second option, which is probably more doable, is to limit your use of the phrase “In a Minute” and when you need to say it, try varying up the vocabulary and make it more descriptive.
For example, when your child says they want some juice, instead of saying “In a Minute,” try “As soon as I am finished unloading the dishwasher I will get your juice.” That tells them two things. One, that you heard their request and intend to follow through. Two, that you are busy doing a specific task and that they know that when you finish that you will take care of their needs. “In a Minute” doesn’t communicate any of that.
There are several reasons why I like this change in wording. Mostly I like it because it holds me accountable. If I have to say to my child, “As soon as I’m finished checking Facebook status updates from friends I haven’t seen in ten years I will get up out of this chair that I have been glued to for one hour and provide you with some juice,” then maybe I’m the one with the problem!
I also like it because when I’m on the computer I find myself saying “In a Minute” to my kids about things that I would not normally agree to. For example, if one of them walks up and says, “I want to have a cookie for breakfast,” I might just say “In a Minute!” What? They know we’re more likely to say yes when we’re distracted. By using a complete and descriptive sentence, I have to look them in the eye, consider their request, and then decide if it’s something that I actually intend to follow through on. Instead of “In a Minute,” if I’m focused I should say, “NO COOKIES FOR BREAKFAST!” or “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”
Step Three. The final step for this week is giving yourself permission to continue to parent. Just because you’re becoming more focused and less distracted in your parenting, does not mean that you have to abandon your household rules, discipline practices, etc., etc.
What some of you have found through this challenge is that you have been parenting on auto-pilot without any specific rules or discipline practices for your children. If that’s the case, then this is as good of a time as any to start thinking about how to change that. Check out one of my favorite parenting books, Parenting the Strong Willed Child, if you need some advice on how to improve your child’s behavior. Later this week, I’ll even be posting about time-out for parents of toddlers and younger kids, if you’d like to add that to your parenting bag of tricks.
Recap. Make Eye Contact With Drivers!
- Set up Screen Free Time for the week.
- No more “In a Minute.”
- Don’t forget to continue to parent!
On Friday I’ll be posting how I used these steps at my house this week and how they worked for me and my kids. I’ll also be asking you to share with me and all of the Focused Moms how you did! For bloggers, you’ll be able to link up a blog post about Week Three with the Focused Moms Challenge, and non-bloggers will have the opportunity to share their experiences through comments. Good luck and stay tuned this week to Facebook and Twitter for daily tips to keep you on track!
Common Sense Disclaimer: This challenge does not provide or replace psychological treatment or evaluation. Contact a psychologist in your community if you are in need of individualized services.