Testing, testing 1-2-3

Phew. Definite rough patch. Yesterday the girls goofed off during family meeting and for the first time ever we ran out of time for allowance. The money was spread out in front of Charlotte, the treasurer, and when the timer went off I calmly scooped it all up and put it back in my wallet. “Thanks for the meeting everyone,” I said in my friendliest tone. “But, mom!” said Charlotte, “Why can’t we have more time?! Why only 20 minutes?” “So everyone can count on it not taking too long.” “But when the timer went off Fenner glared at me like it was my fault!” “Hmm. Well you all agreed to work on that problem, and time just ran out. I bet you’ll be faster next time.” (Lots of slumped shoulders and frown-y faces.)

Soon after that, Charlotte broke her agreement about washing her hair. As time got closer and closer to bedtime I said, “I’m available for the next 15 minutes to shampoo your hair.” She acted like she didn’t hear me and then 30 minutes later said, “Ok, mom, I’m ready!” “I’m sorry Charlotte but I’m not available to help with that now…You’re welcome to do it on your own.” “So I lose TV?” she said with the saddest puppy eyes she could muster. “Well, I need to know that you take our agreements seriously. So show me that for the next week and I’ll know you’re ready to handle TV again.”

In our house, TV is a big self-discipline challenge. They all love it and will easily watch hours and hours together at the expense of everything else – playing, eating, bathing, homework, etc. The truth is, Jerry and I love TV too, and I totally empathize with the challenge of pushing that ‘off’ button. I’m still figuring out how to make space for them to practice TV self-discipline, while at the same time avoiding the job of referee & time-keeper. Do I ban it completely during the week? Keep a timer in the living room they can use? Enforce a homework-first rule? Or just let them figure it out themselves? Maybe they have to feel it on their own for a while—watching a lot of TV can make you feel tired and yucky and suck all the time out of your day for doing other things.

We’ve discussed it with them several times. We talked about what they think the time-limit should be and ways to remember when time’s up. They agree that too much is not a good thing, and that it gets in the way of other things they want to do. But when they’re in it–when they’re on that couch with the remote in their hands–all that talk seems to go right out the window and I again find myself staring at the job of TV-police. Bleh.

It helps that the privilege of TV is tied to going to school and keeping agreements, but is there more to be done? Do we need to do something about this? Right now, I really don’t know.

Anyway, then this morning Charlotte slept through her alarm and was still in bed when we left for school. More on that later.

Happy Monday…

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 9: Family Meetings, Weeks following: Problem Solving

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