I love school holidays! Not having to get up at 6am every day is enough to make me very happy about a break from school. I do waste away a few hours of precious time every morning, by staying in bed too long, reading a book, or just wandering about the house in pyjama’s, not doing much. But that’s what holidays are for, right?
My kids however, start to get bored after a few days at home. There is not much to do in our neighbourhood, not many other (expat) kids around and apparently nothing in the house that can keep them entertained. Except for screens. Computers, tablets, television, the Wii. That can keep them busy for hours. But it drives me crazy and seems like a waste of time to me. Brain damaging if you ask me. I would like my kids to make themselves useful, learn new skills and do something creative. So I came up with a system. A bit of an evil mother’s system – I admit. But it works. It comes down to this: they now have to earn their screen time. Not necessarily television or Wii time, as that is already restricted to certain hours of the day. And my (!) computer can only be used when available anyway. It’s mainly about the tablet. They use it to play MineCraft and other games. They fight about it and get really obsessed over it.
So here’s how it works: points can be earned by doing chores. My kids never do chores, as they spend so much time in school and because we have a house help who comes every day of the week, except Sundays. That doesn’t leave them much chores to do. Or time to do them. But now they can get points for making their bed, tidying their room, setting and clearing the table and doing the dishes (or whatever other chores I can think of). They get 5 points for every accomplished task, or even 10 if it is a big one. Fifteen points gives you 15 minutes of tablet time. Or, if you save up more points, you can get up to 30 minutes or even one hour of tablet time!
It looks like they find it worth the trouble, as they are suddenly very helpful. Their bedrooms are tidy, they set the table for me when asked to and they even do the dishes. Good practice for when we go camping in The Netherlands next month!