Operation Unplugged

A few days ago, we set up a new reward system that involved the boys earning TV/Wii time rather than having full access and losing it when they misbehaved. Basically, a full day of good behavior earns one hour of time the following day. Semi-good day = 30 minutes. Bad day? No TV/Wii the next day.

This means our TV is only on when the kids are awake for a max 3 hours/day now. Compared to the almost non-stop television/game playing we’d gotten into the habit of enjoying over the summer, this is a very drastic change. I was a little worried this would be more stressful for us than it would be for the boys!

This is only our third day, and you know what I’ve discovered?

Our boys are calmer. The stress level is MUCH lower in our house right now. They’ve been (*shock!*) using their imaginations more. They’re reading and playing with puzzles more. They’re enjoying those precious television moments more, rather than mindlessly sitting in the room with the TV going.

Today, we went to a local fair that featured various restaurants. The drive down was over 45 minutes. Usually, we’d flick on the DVD player in the van to keep the peace. I pointed out that was TV time and they’d used up most of their earned time already, so we left it off. You know what happened? They looked out the windows and asked questions about what we were driving past. Rick and I were still able to talk because the kids were calmer.

As I type this, all three just sat down together to put together a new puzzle I bought for them. (Colin could put the older ones together in under five minutes! This one’s a bit more challenging.) They’re begging me to let them play the new “popcorn game” they saw in the bag with the puzzle – I picked up both items from a local teacher supply store. The “popcorn game” is a word game – you pick a piece out of the box and it has an ending sound typed on it (ex: -ound, -ord, etc.). You then have to think up words that end with that sound.

Yes, I’m trying to trick them into learning!

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Oh my word! They're working together!

Robbie just made me pinky-swear that I’d show them the popcorn game when they finished with the puzzle.

We’ve been listening to a lot more music. I have a little speaker that hooks up to my ipod, but we keep that in the car, so Rick pulled out his old iPhone and we’ve been using that to keep us entertained when the TV is off.

Things were so nice and calm today, I even let the boys help me make dinner. Homemade pizza. I make pizza every couple of weeks. Usually, I just give the boys cheese pizza. It’s easy and that’s usually what they want anyhow.

Today, I offered options and let them top their pizzas. Colin just added some cubed turkey…which he attempted to pick off later anyhow. But Robbie and Ryan surprised me. They chose spinach, tomatoes and turkey. They even wanted some of my feta! Who ARE these boys?? They were so excited for the pizzas to come out of the oven and they ate every bite.

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Nom nom nom

All in all, I’m really enjoying this. I love the star system – giving them a warning before removing a star really helps them become more aware, I think. So far, Robbie and Ryan have kept their stars. Colin had one bad day and two ok days – lost one or two stars.

I really hope this holds up when Kay is here tomorrow. I told her about the plan and she is on board, so…fingers crossed!

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