October 30, 2015

I am SO done with Halloween. #forthelove

Disclaimer: Please don't think I am judging you if you celebrate or do not.  This is my family, my experience.  I love you whether you do or your don't.

I am going to steal from Jenn Hatmaker.  Let's get over ourselves for Halloween.  Okay?  For the love of sanity!

Many opt out of Halloween because of the dark side of it.  That never really rang true for me.  Maybe it is because I didn't grow up fearing all of that.  It was always a fun time to dress up, get a little spooky (but not too spooky), and gorge ourselves on high fructose corn syrup and red dye #7.  Aside from the occasional witch (gasp!), I was never really into the super scary side so I guess I never  thought it was so evil.  I know, spiritual warfare and all that...  Halloween just doesn't bother me.  My kids have done halloween since the first child was 3 months old.  We never do evil costumes, we don't do haunted houses, we pass the scariest yards in the neighborhood and opt to trick or treat before it gets dark.  I think we got it.

Here is my beef.  I resent the time, money, and energy that I feel pressured to spend on this "holiday" (what a misnomer- it is not a holy-day). I can spend hours on Pinterest trying to find an original costumes.  I can spend hundreds of dollars on new costumes at the store (even consignment sales and stores have costumes overpriced, in my opinion).  I can decorate my door with the cutest burlap wreath.  I can decorate my trunk for trunk or treat so cute that every already over-sugared child will flock to my car.  For what?  Who am I worried about impressing?  If my kids don't have great and original costumes, I'm afraid I will look like I am ruining their childhood Halloween experience (their only young once, don't screw this up!).  Hold the phone!! I want out!!

I came this close () to canceling Halloween for us this year.  I told the kids, I'd rather spend the money on Christmas decorations or clothes or anything really.  So if they want Halloween, they are going to have to come up with "Free" costumes of their own.

Mean Mom.

Or not.

I didn't get the whines and the but Moms I thought I would get.  Instead, they started talking about how they could create costumes out of what they already have.  In the end, the two youngest used some of their dress up clothes from the toy box (Elsa and Batman), and the two oldest completely invented their costumes from their own clothes.  I didn't feel ANY stress about running out to go buy this or that detail for someone's costume.  I still have not spent a red cent on Halloween, even though tomorrow is All Hallows Eve.  I will probably have to go get some treats tomorrow from Wally's world.  But I am not going in there thinking, "I have to have the best candy on the block."  Someone else can win that award this year.  I have a feeling this Halloween will be a great memory for my kiddos despite the lack of the perfect costume or handsomely decorated porch.  They will remember the year that they pulled together their own costumes and had a blast doing it.

And mom was not stressed or insane (maybe that could be my costume).  Win-win.

August 17, 2015

Technology Rules For My Family

Recently we had a family meeting.  This was a first for our family, I am ashamed to say.  We have had intentions of doing this for a long time but I finally decided to put it on the calendar and scrape together some things I was burning to talk about and get the meeting done.  The meeting was a success, if I do say so myself, even if it went WAY overtime and my kids ended up staying up WAY past bedtime.  Sometime during the meeting my husband decided to take a picture and post it to Facebook.  Then the comments started that led me to making this post.  I had several people asking for my technology rules, which were only slightly visible in the post.  I could have just posted some better pictures but I thought I needed more explanation than that.  So here I go!  

Disclaimer: We have only been putting these rules into practice for 24 hours at the time of this post, so it could still completely fail.  We are a homeschooling family with very different schedules/expectations than your family (even if you also homeschool) so tweak it to work for you.

Here was my problem (I'm pretty sure I am not alone here): my kids get too much time on technology.  We define technology as anything that plugs in.  All of these items are not inherently bad.  My big worry is that I will unintentionally raise my kids to forget what it means to play outside and explore the real world (i.e. things that don't plug in).   I recognize that some technology items are even educational and creative in themselves, which has made it hard for me sometimes to draw a line and limit time they use these items.

Our rules before Sunday's meeting: We had already set rules in our house that they earned their tech time in several ways.  30 min for completing chores.  15 min for having a clean room.  15 min for practicing guitar for 30 min.  Over the summer we even gave them an hour for reading for an hour.  The first problem was that I had a really hard time keeping track of who had how much time.  Another problem was that they often decided they didn't care about the clean room or chores, and opted to read or practice guitar and just not get the other time.  Or they would not do any of it and find a way to watch a sister use her time, or just ask if they could play an educational game that would make it hard for me to say no (yes, I know that I am essentially creating this problem).  We needed to reset the rules and draw very clear lines as to what needs to be done before they pick up the tech, and what is considered "for school" and what is not.  I also decided to use some language that helped them see that cheating on their time was the same as stealing, and the consequences would match the crime.

SO, I started looking for rules online.  I found a ton of tech rule posts (I knew I wasn't alone!).   But none really fit my family.  So I read through the posts for inspiration and came up with my own list.  I also found this free printable that I used to make technology punch cards from.   I LOVE free printables!! 

Here are our tech rules, nothing fancy and the only way they will work is if I actually enforce them.

  1. Technology is a privilege, not a right
  2. You will receive a punch card on Sunday night
  3. Once the holes are punched, your time for the week is up
  4. You may only use your card once your chores are done and your room is clean
  5. If you have any outstanding homework/schoolwork do not ask for time
  6. If you go over your time, you will punch another hole
  7. If you steal time you will punch 2 holes
  8. If you have no more time left, you will lose time on next week’s card.
  9. Watching your sibling means you punch your card too.
  10. We can take time away as a consequence for poor behavior
  11. You can get extra time for the following
    1. Practicing Guitar = 15 min
    2. Reading a non-school book for 1 hour = 30 min
    3. Reading to one of the non-readers= 15 min

Other things that we talked about in the meeting I think will reinforce our commitment to the rules.  We spent a lot of time talking about the big picture.  We talked about what kind of family we want to be, and we allowed the kids to have some input.  More about family meetings in another post.  I am really excited we have finally started these meetings and that everyone seems to be on board.   

Feel free to use any or all of this, you may want to browse around pinterest to find other tech rules and create a list that works for your family.  The key is consistency and enforcement.  Time to put on my Tech Cop hat!