Thursday, November 26, 2009

i'm just doing the best i can

i think. but maybe not. i know i can do better.

i struggle constantly with being what i think is a good parent. and i guess in the scheme of things, i am doing pretty good. but lately things have started to feel like they are going in a direction i'm not happy with.

case in point, my 4yr old son's current obsession with the computer game "plants vs zombies." i don't think i would have exposed my kids to this game, nor even checked it out, had my husband not gotten it and started playing it on his computer. then the kids saw it and started watching (adam's really good about not playing violent games in front of the kids)...and it seemed tame enough to let them watch. cartoon zombies eat plants, and you have to set up the plants to get rid of (ok, kill...ugh, i hate that word and that its in this game) the zombies. its actually a pretty cute game and i have rationalized that its not that bad, and adam had already been playing it with them watching for some time before i ever checked it out. and he even was letting them play it on his computer...so they were hooked. well, this got more and more obsessive and eventually i had to see what all the fuss was about and started playing the online free version (linked above) to the point that *I* was hooked, and had to go buy the full version (found it online for $6.99 here, if anyone's interested.)

and so here we are...i've played it so much that i'm actually getting sick of it, as is adam. but the kids still obsess on it and mainly tyren. he will even pretend to be a zombie and have you pretend to be a plant and he'll pretend to eat you. well its mostly pretty harmless...but there's still parts of it i cringe about and can't believe i somehow made myself believe i was ok with...like how when you kill the zombie (the plants do things like shoot peas at the zombies til they die, or there's a giant zombie eating plant that eats them whole), their arms fall off and then their head...its all done in a comical cartoon way, not gruesome, but i still am uncomfortable with it when i think about it too much. which i try not to do.

anyway, here's where we are...with both kids obsessing over it, tyren especially...and now i am starting to think that i need to make time in the days for him to be away from the computer more and playing outside more. so i'm making a mental note to get working on that. and find some new toys/games/etc for xmas that are NOT computer related. he has proven to have an obsessive personality already and is throwing tantrums at times when one of us stops playing (he enjoys watching others play as much as playing it himself)...really out of control at times. so this has to change.

thank god i already had a timer on my computer to cut it off after an hour. best $30 i ever spent. i can set whatever time i deem appropriate for each sitting, how much time in between times they are logged on, how much total time per day and even block out times that i don't want them playing at all. going to start making more use of these features. currently its set to each of them getting 1 hour of computer time at a sitting, and they have to be logged off for at least 1 hour before they can sit down and play again. and a total of 2 hours a day. it works really well. we used to have major fights over getting them off the computer, now we just don't. its set, its enforced by the computer. i can't say enough about how great this program is.

so i think i'm going to tweak the hours some and have them only get 1 hour per day for free and if they want another hour they have to earn it through chores or whatever i deem they need to do to get it. i'm starting to see how obsessive both my kids are with computer games...very much like their parents...and i need to get a handle on this now before it gets way out of control. at least they're not sitting at the computer literally all day, though. 2hours max. so i don't feel too bad, but i want them to obsess on non-electronic things too. like playing outside and making forts and such.

so i was just talking to adam about spending this weekend cleaning up our yard and making it more fun for the kids. i want to replace our swing that broke, i want to do things like clean out the sandbox and get new containers for the outside toys so they are easier to get to and easier to stay clean if they are out of the elements more. i know i can figure out a way to do this with minimal money. i know i can and i will.

and for xmas...i'm aiming at things to encourage them to play creatively. NOT on the computer.

i have to say one thing that i am pretty proud of right now though. we've nearly completely (and fully unintentionally) weaned ourselves off the tv. this seems to have happened a few times over the course of my time as a mom and i always find it amusing and wonderful.

we used to have the tv on nearly all day. at first it was all tv...network tv as well at PBS. i watched dr phil and oprah religiously and when my kids were littler, i even obsessed on some soap operas (horror of horrors). then over time the network tv time shrank til its almost never on. tv just isn't on pretty much at all after 5pm. occasionally we'll turn it on to look for something specific...like if i know that nova or nature is going to be on PBS...but network tv is a thing of the past around here. not even all those sitcoms i really enjoyed watching while i got dinner ready! very proud of us for that! the only network tv shows i watch are ghost whisperer and medium and sometimes private practice....and ALL of those i watch on the computer after the kids are asleep now! much less commercials and my kids aren't ever exposed to it.

now pbs was still an issue. i would have it on from the time they got up, sometimes turning it off after a few hours to just turn back on again in the later afternoon when the kids favorite shows are on. some days, sad to say, it did indeed stay on from about 9am-5pm. not proud of that. but i do still pride myself on the fact it was pbs, not network tv. quality shows, at least. and honestly, they didn't watch it all the time. often it was just on in the background.

well somehow that's changed now. its been weeks now of the tv watching dwindling down. mostly initiated by the kids themselves! they would tell me NOT to turn it on in the morning, god bless them! because of it not being on from the moment we get up...i don't mind putting it on from 2:30-4pm to watch their favorite shows. although some days we don't even do that.

yes, miracle of miracles...there have been a handful of days lately where the tv just doesn't go on at all! ALL DAY!! i can't even believe it myself! and we DON'T miss it!

i could care less about those sitcoms or dr phil or oprah and i REALLY could care less about the soap operas! haven't watched those in over a year, i think! i'm really happy not getting the bombardment of commercials...it really makes a difference. and i'm happy that it all happened pretty much on its own! i never seem to be able to make things happen when i force the issue. they seem to work themselves out on their own for many things. what a relief!

well...so there's the computer games issue now...so i just am going to work on the yard and finding appropriate gifts to put on their wish lists for xmas that will encourage creative play. and start to just let the computer start to dwindle down naturally, as they are drawn to other things. we'll see how it goes. i am pretty confident that things will work themselves out again. and we'll all be a lot happier.

oh and adam and i are talking about getting both kids bikes for xmas. tyren doesn't yet have a "2-wheeler" and maeven's far too big for hers. so i figure that could draw them outside and to play at parks a lot. :) good plan, eh?

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