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Tech Sheriff

Me: I am so glad it’s winter time so I don’t have to drive all over God’s green earth every afternoon taking you to all your fall activities.

Also Me: If you kids don’t stop fighting I’m going to sign up for as many extra-curriculars as possible so you are never home and I don’t have to hear it.

Anyone else? Of course this is partially my own fault: after some undesirable behavior, we have moved to lockdown mode on device usage. I have appointed myself the Tech Sheriff and I’m levying fines and consequences left and right. No technology - not even TV - until after dinner, after homework, after kitchen is cleaned up, and loss of technology is the FIRST consequence every time, and there is a zero tolerance policy in place.

The first day, the kids were lined up at the charging station at 7 pm as if the gates were lifting for Black Friday shopping. The second day one of them actually did some reading voluntarily. By day 4, the previously feral seeming children were returning to their chatty and pleasant selves. Less tech - for my kids at least - means happier, less volatile kids. Happier kids means a happier mom. A happier mom leads to happier kids. The carousel goes round and round and the painted ponies go up and down.*

*This survey is not based on any scientific research beyond in-the-field observation, and even that is limited. I am not the Jane Goodall of Suburbia.

Does it suck? YES IT FREAKING DOES. Last night instead of laying on the couch watching Netflix while my children sat mindlessly entertained by YouTube or Xbox, I actually had to break down and play a game with them. Googly Eyes. After a full day of work / errands / cooking dinner / cleaning the kitchen, I want to be clear that I was in no mood - NO MOOD - for anything but a cold Fresca and an hour on the couch. During times like these, when it’s dark and freezing and no one can safely go for a bike ride or play outdoors, I remind myself that these knuckleheads didn’t ask to be born. We wanted them, tried for them, planned for them - and now that they are tweens and teens, it is too late to return to sender. We all have to make sacrifices.

There have been a few threads lately in the Facebook groups about how to restrict kids’ screen time. There’s a new app in the new iPhone operating system that tracks app-time and restricts access at designated times. These work really well - but I have found that the low-tech version works just as well - literally take it out of their hands and give it back when ready.

Now that the sun is setting around the time the kids get off the bus, we are all learning now to navigate the doldrums of winter indoor entertainment. When it comes to being Tech Sheriff, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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