I am one of those bad mothers–you know, the kind who let their kids play video games all day long. From the Wii, to the DS, to their iPods or their Leapsters, this house is lousy with video games! There aren’t a lot of kids around here for my kids to play with, so they’re stuck indoors a lot while I work. I also have found that because my kids are visual learners, that both of them have learned some pretty good lessons from their video games. There’s the typical Leapster learning games which helped both kids learn how to read and write; but my kids have also learned a lot of life skills from their other video games as well. JD has a pretty significant performance anxiety–he won’t attempt anything he doesn’t know he will succeed at. It is through losing at video games that he has gotten much better in this area. It also has been a great social connection tool for him with other boys his age–they have something in common to talk about and do together. LittleMissSunshine plays way fewer games than her brother does, but she has begun to learn that perseverance pays off–to not give up the first time you fail. That may not sound like a big deal to many moms, but for us in the KnowitAll household learning how to fail, analyze why you did and try again is a big lesson in being successful in life.
Still, they’re not ideal. I may be a “bad” mom, but I don’t want my kids in front of the TV 24/7. I want them to learn life lessons, to get out and enjoy the summer, and most of all, to know that TV and video games are a priviledge, not a right. Because of that, we have gotten clever with our rules. I don’t mind them playing the games as long as they have earned them. We start each day with Chores Bingo. Get five chores in a row to have any electronics. First to bingo controls the Wii for the first two hours of game play!
I didn’t make the chores extra hard, or all that difficult to complete quickly. The idea was mainly to teach them some good habits–to pick up every day as you go along, to keep your room and the house tidy. I never learned that lesson. God bless my mother, but she hadn’t learned it from her mother to teach it to me. I am working hard to make sure my kids learn it! The chores we listed are simple, but important to young kids as they learn to develop daily routines. Plus, by making it into a game, it helps keep them from being painful, routine chores and more into a bit of fun every morning. They have a reward to look forward to in the end–they get to play video games!
I’ve uploaded a pdf copy of our chores bingo list, so that you can use it if you want. Or make your own! A few tips:
- Have a good mix of chores for the kids to choose from: some easy, some hard. Mix them up in a row so that there’s a good balance.
- Be realistic as to what they can get done in a short time.
- Repeat some of the chores several times, especially if they’re ones you want them to do every day. You’ll notice I’ve got things like pet care, picking up their clothes, and making their bed on there a few times. That virtually assures me those chores will get done every day!
- Add in hygeine skills you might be struggling with. Because my oldest has extreme sensory issues in his mouth, he hates to brush his teeth. By adding that to the list of “chores” it makes it his decision to do it and not us standing over him yelling about it.
- Mix it up! We quickly found they fell into a groove and do the same chores every day. Each month I rotate the spaces on the board to get them to try other chores as well. Sometimes I’ll throw a bonus prize out if they do an extra space on the board.
- Have fun with it! Keep it light and fun, as a reward system. Keep punishment away from the chart. Don’t take away a piece they’d rightfully earned because they later did something wrong. That will kill what fun and rewards there are in this system in a heartbeat.