It’s become known as the day I thought they’d finally turn on me, that my own children would want to stab me in the eye with their overpriced, scented Smiggle pencils. T’was the first Saturday of the Christmas holidays, which may explain my naive, fuzzy optimism getting out of hand, however, ‘shouty mummy’ had already reared her scary head and unleashed the fury of a thousand toddlers denied “choc-choc”! I’d heard enough shouting “replenish my health” down headsets/into the next room/to the brother sitting 67cm away to last me a parental life time; been told “…but I’m in a game!” like it was the answer to every possible request I could make of my children and seen the cherubic faces of my offspring for a whole 13.5 minutes (while they scoffed vital food supplies) in an 8 hour period.
The request to put away the football kit I’d picked up from their floor the previous day, washed, dried, folded and returned to their room was ignored! Enough was enough – hell hath no fury than that of an ignored, washer-woman mother; something had to give and I wasn’t going to let it be my sanity – not this time!
So, the very next day I set my mandate, a peace treaty if you will, to ensure that the Xbox was no longer seen as a priority, a given or, a virtual ventilator offering up needed gaming-oxygen to my console dependent children – it’s a treat, one that is earned, not a God given right to small people just for gracing this planet.
I’ve had DMs, comments and emails asking me if it’s still working? What I’ve done, are we still doing it? So below I’ve popped the outline of what works for us, with the aim of offering up hope to those of you out there who have lost a child to a world of Fifa points or Fortnight loot drops. But a forewarning, you will hear a lot more “I’m bored/I’ve got nothing to do/are you trying to ruin my life?” while the period of adjustment sets in – but this is about the parental long game!
The Time Limits
- 2 hours of Xbox on school days.
- 4 hours of Xbox on weekend days, but not between the hours of 10am-6pm.
- No Xbox before school, football matches or football training, until you’re completely ready and have checked there are no other jobs.
- Unused time cannot be carried over to other days.
- If you go over your allotted time, I reserve the right to go bat shit crazy.
No Xbox until the following have been done:
- Lunchboxes emptied and put away.
- School bags and coats hung up (not on the floor).
- Bedroom floor clear and that doesn’t mean scooping everything up and shoving it the laundry basket!
- Beds made.
- Any clean washing put away.
- Any dirty washing/the washing basket brought to the utility area.
- Any football kit/school uniform/PE kit needed for the next day is ready.
- Homework is completed.
- A chapter of reading book is read.
- Any other tasks requested (bins going out, showers, emptying the dishwasher etc) have been completed to my satisfaction.
Any fights with regards to the above or the Xbox games, disrespectful or unkind behaviour will result in losing Xbox time with risk of a ban, all at the discretion of ME! MWAHAHA!
I know there’ll be people thinking 4 hours?!?! That’s loads! And I agree, but I’m taking things slowly and bearing in mind that my boys, in particular, spend a lot of their free time at football training/matches (8 hours plus 6.5 hours travelling a week) – so, while it may seem (to them) that they’re still getting a reasonable amount of time – in reality it works out a lot less. I’m also not willing to set unrealistic goals (for me or the boys) and would rather have something that’s seen as compromise, than all out war! Sure, this all could’ve been avoided had we not started on the slippery path of pads and consoles, but in 2018, it not only takes a strong parent, it takes a stronger child to be alienated from friendship groups for not being involved in the latest Fortnight glitch or best Fifa draft. I’m a firm believer in balance, and that’s what I’m trying to restore; while teaching the boys about priorities and taking responsibility for their precious time.
I’ve seen suggestions mentioning earning points/time; for every job completed a certain amount of time is allowed on the console or earns the wifi password for the day. We tried this once for pocket money, and I considered it for this – every job earned different amounts/20 minutes on the Xbox. I was soon being pestered for jobs every minute of the day – there weren’t enough jobs to dole out to my money/console hungry monsters. They were doing jobs which didn’t even need doing – Bruno changed all bed sheets on his brothers’ beds two days running!!
Have I been rigid? Hell no, I’m not perfect and this is still a period of adjustment. I have to get reacquainted with interacting with my kids again and the boys need to realign their eye line to above TV level to meet my eyes! There are days when the cleaning, emails, cooking, ironing et al would benefit from 8 hours straight of the kids being comatose by Call of Duty! But my patience, sanity and relationship with the kids (so I’m told) will benefit – the rest can wait, or I’ll add them to the list of “jobs” for the kids to do before Xbox time!!