I have had to set boundaries for my children’s free time. If I did not use a timer when my son is on the computer he would be on it all day. I need to use a timer so that he knows when his time is up, he has no idea how much time passes when he is playing. Using the computer started as a way for him to learn and to help with his hand eye coordination. The next thing I know is that I have a four-year-old computer addict. He will give up just about anything for computer time. I use it as a treat or a reward, some thing to be earned not a right.
As my children get older I am going to have to make sure they have a balanced life. To do so I will have to put limits on computer and TV time and make sure they play outside with other kids. I have already decided that my children will not have a TV, computer or phone in their rooms. That will all be in the living room. That way I have more control over when they use them and what they use them for.
I will be enrolling them into after school and summer programs so that they socialize and do some type of activity. I, like any other parent, want to give my kids all the opportunities that I did not have. At this point it is open to what programs they will go into. I want to make sure it is some thing they like. I can only give them the opportunities to do things; I cannot make them participate. Swimming, baseball, gymnastics and dance all seem to be high on my son’s list right now, so we will try those first.
I know that my children are going to have great demands on their time when they start school. They will have less free time and will want to spend it doing what they love the most, be it computer games or playing sports. As an adult it is very easy for me to become caught up in a book, game or TV show, how can I expect my children to be any different? I need to give them boundaries, balance until they are able to create their own boundaries. At the same time I need to make sure I don’t limit them so much that they rebel and find other ways to get the TV or computer time they want.
I have some great ideas from talking with parents of older children. Now only time will tell how they will work on my kids. Homework must be done before I let them watch TV or play games. I need to give them a choice of games, computer ones, handheld ones, ones played on the TV and board games. I want the games to be ones that the family can all play, so there is some family time involved. Arts, crafts and music are all very important and I need to give them access to create or enjoy them. The best way is for me to do things with them, not just put some paper and pens on the table and tell them to keep busy. The one thing that seems to stand out the most, no matter what activities I expose my children to, is that I need to participate with them. My involvement as a parent is more important then the actual activity.