Back in June I decided to pull the plug on my kid’s devices. Summer had barely started and my children’s desire to stare at their iPads rather than explore the days of summer almost pushed me over the edge. But my children’s inability to obtain any balance was not my only woe. My kids were becoming literate and technically savvy and I was losing sleep over the fact that their devices had zero parental limitations. My long term plan was to get everybody’s devices to the Apple Store for a tune up as well as the implementation of necessary parental controls. You aren’t going to believe this, but my kids did not see the likes of their devices until about 2 weeks ago. It was a glorious device free period, however, it wasn’t realistic of me to keep them from them, nor was it fair. It wasn’t fair to them and at times me and they were starting to get wise to my ways.
After much deliberation and the better half of a morning spent at the Apple Store, I was ready to give my kids their devices back, but something had to be done first. I was sharing with a mom about my issues with always negotiating, and often times giving in to their demands just for some peace. I didn’t want to go back to my old ways, as I was just as much at fault as them. This brilliant mom suggested I draw up a contract. She had done this with hers in the past and said it worked great for them. It was official, the Anderson Twins were going to sign on the dotted line. Ryan and I discussed the terms of the contract over the course of a few days and we prepared the twins for this. I explained to them that their iPads would be arriving on a Saturday. I promised them the weekend to be losers and then come that following Monday, we were going to sit down and discuss the terms of our agreement. Once everyone was clear and all items were discussed, a binding document would be set in place. This was more than just maintaining control. I wanted to teach my kids something about balance and responsibility. That was the underlying reason for this whole agreement.
I know to some this probably sounds like it’s a bit much, but the fact that my two would sit in front of a screen for hours if I allowed it disturbed me to the core and we needed to lay some groundwork for what it means to be a responsible individual who contributes to their home and someday society. This is what my kids signed. William even pointed out my typos. That then lead to a discussion about rushing, however that is for a different blog on a different day.
Since the twins were prepared for this days in advance, they were anxious to read the document I had prepared. We had fun with this. Lots of great questions and a very adult convesation. Will may have a future in business. I read the introductory paragraph and they took turns reading the terms they would be signing off on. Lesson number 1. Never sign anything without reading it first. Mia was more willing to sign off on all of the items as she was anxious to get her device. William on the other hand was more thorough and challenged some of our terms. He is and will forever be Mr. Negotiation. God love him. Lord help me.
We are two weeks in with the contract in place. Both signed agreements are on the refrigerator should anyone need to refer to it at a moment’s notice. And we have. It took a few days but we are rolling and I am very happy and so is everyone else. This particular situation has proven to be a win for mom and dad and I highly recommend the Parental/Child agreement to everyone. My nagging and timer setting ways are over. We have upgraded to a far better method. I am confident this will not be our last agreement. There are several reasons why this has been a positive implementation within my home and I believe a list is an order.
Here are all of the reasons why drawing up a device contract with your kids will change your life for the better.
- There is no grey with contracts. The terms are in black and white and when one needs a refresher, a tangible piece of paper is handy and at either party’s disposal. This right here is a beautiful thing.
- The sound of your own voice doesn’t get old because you aren’t using it as much to negotiate.
- The desire to get responsibilities like school work, required reading, physical activity or after school activities done so device time can be earned becomes motivation. Some call it bribery. I call it brilliance.
- Kids need structure. Adults need structure. A contract is structure.
- Suddenly the words “I’m bored” are no longer used. Kids get shifty and manipulative when those shiny little electronics are hanging in the balance. Tunnel vision becomes peripheral and options outside of tech time suddenly become available.
Drawing up a contract with my kids proved to be a great move for everyone involved. There are less arguments and far more conversations. When I come home from work and my children come running outside to tell me their homework is done and that they read too, the air around us almost immediately feels lighter. Those beautiful moments lead to peaceful evenings where everyone is happy and some serious quality time has been and will be had as a family. Last night Mia went to bed writing in her journal and this morning my little guy cracked a book until it was time to get dressed. To me these are the positive outcomes I was hoping to see and now I do. Everyone has different rules and different strokes for different folks. Our house needed something like this set in place to thrive. The benefits have far outweighed any negatives and that is all I can ask for as a mom. My life’s purpose is not to run my home like some dictator, I just want my kids to grow up to respect responsibility and time and to enjoy all of the things their very privileged lives have to offer. I am learning as I go here. This one was a win for everyone.
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