Happy, Happy

Kick Ball

I wish I could say that I do everything right when it comes to motherhood. I wish I could find that elusive handbook and read it cover to cover. Until then, I need to trust my gut, and my gut is telling me that video games and TV is the devil. The boys don’t watch much TV or play any video games during the week. On the weekends, they got up early and played that stupid Minecraft and watched those annoying Stampy Longhead videos.

This week was the first week of summer vacation and I, thinking I would do something indulgent before they started swim team next week, let them play video games and watch TV all week. I’ve noticed over the years that too much results in bad behavior, but this week was something else. Mikey got in fights with his best friend over an iphone game. The argued over handball. In the pool the squabbled about something else, and then Mikey and Nico got in a fight over a pool toy. Nico started crying. He interrupted me in the middle of conversations with adults. Their room, normally messy, was a veritable fire hazard.

By Wednesday afternoon, the 3rd day of summer vacation, I had enough. On Thursday I woke up and found them playing video games even though I told them the day before they were not to play without my permission. Needless to say, many words flew out of my mouth. Mikey and Nico found themselves deeply regretting their decision to put off making their beds.

I put a moratorium on video games until I say so. I limited TV to Doctor Who with dad when he gets home. I told them to enjoy the summer the way I used to enjoy it as a kid: no video games, no cable, no long drives to amusement parks and special events where a hamburger costs $11. In short, God gave you an imagination. Use it.

We played Monopoly for almost 3 hours. Nico, with three railroads and Boardwalk, was the dominator of board games. They made their lunch. Mikey had a cheese sandwich and Nico a veggie burger. We sat outside. The boys played a game of kick ball with the neighborhood kids while I read a book. Later, they had a Nerf gun war in the backyard. They played a game of chess until the Mister came home. We ate dinner and watched Doctor Who. When it was time to go to bed, Nico fell asleep quickly and Mikey finished the third book in the Wereworld series.

It’s possible they were on their best behavior because I lost my temper that morning, but I still think video games and TV are devils. I know that yesterday, after a week of annoyances and outbursts, there wasn’t a single fight between brothers. There were no tears of misunderstanding. There was no sass or defiance. It was nice. Really, really nice.

Have a happy, happy weekend, everyone!

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    I’ve noticed the same thing with my children. Plus when I insist consistently that they can entertain themselves, they do and I hear far less “I’m bored”. I also give them chores when they tell me they are bored :)

  2. Kirsten says

    Agreed! I put a screen time ban between the hours of 9-4, and while resistant at first, the hours have been amazingly easy to fill! My kids are 10, 8, and 5.

    • Shannon says

      This is a great idea! My girls are similar in age and honestly, a little t.v., doesn’t drive them nuts. I like the 9 – 4 ban though.

  3. says

    My nephews are the same way. They need a lot more opportunities to run off their energy, or they end up using it to try to kill each other. 😉

    Have a great weekend!

  4. Betsy says

    I agree completely!! I started something new this summer with my 4 boys-they each get 4 tokens on Monday morning, each worth 30 minutes of video game time. That’s all they get until next Monday morning. It has been wonderful! So far they’ve used them up by Wednesday and then we are done for the week. No begging, no whining, no endless questions.

  5. Shannon says

    ” no video games, no cable, no long drives to amusement parks and special events where a hamburger costs $11. In short, God gave you an imagination. Use it.” Preach, Momma!!! Had that exact rant at my kids yesterday and warned the neighbor she was setting the summer bar WAY too high with three outings/visits that she included my kids in. (She agreed completely, btw, least you think we were snarky.) I want my girls outside, running, adventuring, imagining without me having to direct. Is that too much to ask on the second day of summer vacation!!!

  6. Phaedra says

    We have this same thing around our house. We don’t really do video games, but TV? Kid wants to watch ridiculous tween-Disney stuff. *sigh* I have a similar moratorium on watching during the week.(and I’ve probably gone a similar rant, more than once. oops) She has to have played with her toys, used her imagination, done her chores & played outside in the fresh air! Fresh air people! It’s the key. I don’t know what the difference is, but running around outside makes all the difference in how my kid behaves. Luckily our daycare (which is an in-home type) has the same philosophy and the kids go outside to play. Jumping ropes, building forts, playing tag etc. Every.Single. Day. rain or shine. (we live in Oregon… rain happens). Summer vacation just means- more time outside! Yesterday she was at a play date that included bike riding & obstacle courses at the park in the sunshine. The girls didn’t fight or argue at all. Not even once- in HOURS. :)

  7. Brandie says

    My daughter is only 2 months old but I am taking notes. While there may not be a handbook, I firmly believe in learning from mamas I respect!

  8. Kim from Philadelphia says

    I have noticed very similar behavior issues with my boy, who is just between your two age-wise. He’s definately more moody and argumentative when he has more than his usual screen time.
    I now limit to 30 minutes a day; he gets to choose time in his DS or tv.

    He is also a very active kid ( ADHD) and time outside exploring, playing games or riding bikes so helps his behavior and attitude. He is also very creative and will do a great job finding things to busy himself when he has a chunk of time that us screen free. I believe kids should be bored and gave to figure out ways to occupy themselves. Modern parents are quick to step in and over schedule; kids benefit from a structured framework with lots of time to just “be a kid”.

  9. jasi says

    i have weird kids. half hour of tv at night helps them sleep. we read a lot during the day because stories make them wild. they get all these “ideas” lols. maybe it’s just the way i read to them. bedtime story NEVER worked- it would have them climbing the walls. we do some video games but usually together (i like yellow toad on mario cart). and we balance it with swimming and hiking. daddy does the bikes and roller blades only because i have this huge affinity for the ground and falling toward it quickly. we bake and make crafts. do some workbook pages for (mini plastic ninjas) so we don’t forget the whole school year. some movies and picnics and that’s a summer to me!

  10. says

    My two are exactly the same when it comes to TV (we don’t have video games yet, I know, SOOO LAME!). The kids are so much less capable of entertaining themselves when they’ve watched TV. The complaining and whining is tantamount to nuclear fallout, its black dust laying a poison haze over the house until days have passed and the air starts to clear. And yet, somehow, before I know it, I’ve let them watch a little too much TV…and the moodiness and tears return.
    Bring on sunshine and daisies, crayons, paints, board games and books – it is time to celebrate summer 70s style! :)

  11. says

    my three are allowed to have a half hour of screen time from 6:30 to 7 pm every night. There is chart for which screen they may use on a given day (I am really tired of rationing out our one ipad, so I made a chart wherein only one child per day may use the ipad. Not your day, too bad, so sad.) Wii is allowed only on Saturday mornings for about an hour, and not before 7 am. Sunday is a no screen day–we usually have Family Game Night during the 6:30 screen time on Sundays.

  12. Suzanne says

    In our house similar limitations are in place. During the school year, there is no screen time from Sunday night until Friday aster school. Summer has different rules (daily time but limited in the afternoon and only after physical exercise, mental exercise and household duties are completed). The fights have returned. It validates our decision on a daily basis.

  13. says

    I am so glad that I am not the only one who feels this way. Unfortunately, we are also currently obsessing over the Dodgers, World Cup, KIngs, etc etc etc. 😉 Watching adds to the screen time and fuels the “crazy” fire.

  14. Hazel says

    Absolutely. I actually stop them doing anything first thing in the morning because that gets them hooked for the day and my son in particular is then very grumpy.

    Incidentally, I read of some research, years ago now, where children were interviewed after half of them had been playing (non-violent) computer games.
    What they didn’t know is that the real research was how it affects their behaviour. The researcher ‘accidentally’ knocked a pen on the floor during the interview and as far as I can recall, every child who had been playing computer games failed to react whilst every other child picked the pen up for the adult.
    The point being that any computer/video game, no matter how innocuous, encourages self-interest and competitiveness, with the game even if not other players, and affects the players interaction with the rest of the world.
    I find that quite sobering.

  15. Nicole says

    We’re on our first weekend of summer vacation. They’re enjoying the tv and video games for two days only. Starting tomorrow, they have 30 minutes a day of “school work” to keep their brains from turning into mush during the summer and the tv/video games will be severely limited. They know about the school work, but not the screen limitations. They won’t like it, but I’m with you. They need to be outside playing or doing something that requires imagination.

  16. Cynthia says

    You nailed it. Hang firm. I raised my two boys without a TV and loved it. They are now doing the same so far with their babies. Whenever I heard “I’m bored” I would answer: “Wonderful! Now you’re really going to have some fun! I can’t wait to hear what you came up with!” When they fought, they resolved it on their own. If I got brought in, I assigned them a task to complete together before any more play could ensue. Surprise, surprise. I can count on one hand the number of times I had to intervene. They have been best of friends throughout high school, college, and now raising their own families. LOVE.

  17. marcy says

    so totally agree. i see those same types of changes in my boys when they get too much screen time. and that stampey….oy.

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