When it comes to digital (i.e. TV, video games, tablets, any activity that requires a screen), I try to be strict about it. I am a firm believer that you have to allow kids to be kids, meaning it’s okay to be bored, forced to use imagination to play, and actually play with all the toys given to them. During the holiday and vacations, I allow them to binge on digital, but I notice that too much of it leads to crankiness.
After several weeks of no school, nonstop screen time, I put the hammer down and reminded my kids that school started back up. This means no digital during the week. I had to teach Jazzercise last night and then had an outing afterwards, so I gave my kids very specific tasks before I left. They were to finish all of their homework, clean up all their toys, and then take a shower before bed.
Normally, when I have a list of tasks given to my family before I leave, it’s a crap shoot with who actually executes the tasks. It could be the children, but most of the time, it’s half kids/half spouse that ends up cleaning the house. Or only some of the tasks are completed.
Well, I come home to a dark house. Kids are already in bed. Surprised, I find the kitchen clean. I find this note on the kitchen counter:
I look around at the rest of the main floor of the house. Toys are put away. Table tops are cleared off. It even looked like the kitchen floor had been swept. I was amazed! The hubby and the kids did all the things that I had asked them to do!
So I yell at my husband through the basement door (because he’s always in his man cave now) to let him know that I’m home. I go upstairs to change into my PJs, and when I come down, he greets me. He startles me when he announces, “Oh, the dishes have been put away. The kids must have done that.”
“What do you mean the kids must have done that? Didn’t you watch them do all the tasks?” I ask.
Nope. He worked. He fed them and went back into the man cave. My kids did all the work by themselves.
I have never been more proud of my kids.
Y’all. Parenting is so hard. Each child is so unique in personality and characteristics. You can teach all of your kids the same morals, discipline them objectively, have the same standards for them to rise up to, and each kid responds differently. There is no magical formula to raising good kids. You just try your best, teach and talk through moments, and pray and trust that the Lord will instill in them a love for Him.
To you, this may just look like a clean house. It wasn’t perfect. The work is never done in a house that is lived in. But, this moment showed me that my kids–without an adult watching them–chose to do what was expected of them. Not only that, they went above and beyond without looking for immediate gratification or approval. Simply put, they chose to do what was right, not be lazy, and love and respect me enough to obey even when I’m not watching. Wow!
What habits we instill in our kids now will lead to the habits they carry forth into adulthood. Today, they may bicker and fight, spread chaos and toys all over the house again, and the process will start all over. That’s okay. Last night will be a memory stored into my heart for as long as I can remember. It gives me hope that there are good things to come in the future.