Your Questions, Answered, Using an Unnecessary Number of Words
February 19, 2016
I noticed a couple topic requests for Further Yakking About from the comments on the last post, and as I am in a procrastinating mood and have nothing better to yak about, let's do it:
1) The time-limit parental control thingie.
Our kids used to solely play with our old, discarded iPhones. Plus an iPad that was technically still mine and I don't remember giving up custody but eventually it was chock full of nothing but kids' games and was always sort of sticky.
I was never really happy with the parental control options in iOS. App purchases and downloads required a password, but I wanted to be able to set time limits, block certain websites, and just sort of generally know what they're up to without having to literally sit there staring over their shoulders. (And thus, having to listen to the Angry Birds theme song over and over and over and over...)
There are two choices with options like that: Amazon Fire Kids Edition with the Amazon FreeTime subscription service, or a tablet with full Windows 10 installed and Family Safety enabled. At the time, we didn't have an xBox or anything, and Noah was DESPERATE to play "real" Minecraft vs. the iOS Pocket Edition. So we opted for three relatively cheap HP Stream tablets with Windows 10. (Plus a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for Minecraft.)
I'm super happy with Family Safety and it does everything we wanted, and unlike Amazon FreeTime, it's included for free with Windows. They get one hour of time and then need our password to add more, and we can restrict app and website by age ratings and get a full activity report so we know EVERYTHING they are playing and visiting. Plus having a full operating system and the keyboards makes them really useful for homework and school projects.
I am NOT, however, happy with the specific hardware we went with. They're only a year old and giving us a ton of problems with freezing/glitching, memory storage and holding a battery charge. Some of that is our fault, as we should've sprung for more expensive cases to protect them from drops and general carelessness. They just aren't very sturdy tablets in general, though. I think our days with them are numbered.
Since we have the xBox now for Minecraft, we might go for the Amazon Fires (which have a two-year warranty) next time. Or stick with Windows but just spring for better hardware/cases. I don't see us buying them their own iPad Minis or anything Apple -- too damn expensive and they've yet to really prove good stewardship with devices in general. Every screen in the house is cracked and has taken too many near-fatal falls out of backpacks and off high surfaces.
Anyway, if anybody has thoughts on the Fire and FreeTime service vs. Windows 10 vs. Something I Haven't Even Thought Of Yet, fire away.
2) How did I not notice my headphones were in Ike's bed for over a month don't I change his sheets or do all my children sleep in their own filth my God.
I do change my children's sheets -- I have it set as a reminder on my phone's Tasks app for every two weeks. Which is how often I used to have a cleaning service come in our townhouse, and oh how I miss those days, but I decided after we moved to tackle housecleaning myself for as long as possible. And you know what? Despite this house feeling like it's a bajillion more square feet, I am doing mostly okay. I set specific chores and rooms for specific days of the week so it's broken down into small, workable chunks I can tackle after finishing up my work obligations.
THAT SAID. Do I actually do a full sheet swap on all three beds (including the bunk bed gaaaahhhhh)? Not really. I change the pillowcases without fail, and then do a general...um...visual and smell check on everything else. If nothing got spilled or peed on or stained or littered with contraband Oreo crumbs (SO SNEAKY!!!), I admit I sometimes give the rest a pass until next time.
Real life, bitches. It's kinda gross and lazy sometimes. Who cares.
So no, I don't believe the headphones were in Ike's bed the whole time, as I would have found them earlier. I think he was keeping them under the bed most of the time, lost them in his sheets one night and didn't think to mute the games he was playing...or didn't think his brothers would be so quick to rat him out.
Either way, they're mine again, which is good because Serial was a two-parter this week.
3) What consequences did we enforce post-screen bust?
Well, first and foremost, loss of his daily screen time (which includes xBox and TV) for four days. Four years old = four day max on grounding, much like timeouts are one minute for each year of age. Anything longer and a toddler/preschooler very quickly loses their grasp on the cause and effect behind the punishment, and it just becomes this endless, arbitrary thing.
On each of those four days, we also talked about what he did and why it was wrong. No, playing with screens isn't WRONG, what was wrong was 1) Sneaking the screens (or anything!) in and out of Mom and Dad's room, 2) Playing with them without asking, and when he was supposed to be sleeping. There was obviously a LOT more going on, but I'm keeping it simple for now.
The concepts of lying and deception are both REALLY squishy at this age and hard for kids to fully get -- as long as they aren't getting caught or in trouble, isn't everything okay? And even if I'm caught, if I keep saying that I didn't do it, I won't get in trouble, so isn't everything okay?
He is very sorry and has apologized. He will be able to play with his screen today after school and will join his brothers for Friday movie night tonight. He also admitted that he's just not hungry at dinner time (unless it's "pizza or burgers because my body is always hungry for pizza or burgers"). So I think I'm going to take another crack at moving his afternoon snack earlier instead of waiting until his brothers get home.
I maintain this somewhat obvious fix is harder than it sounds -- the post-school snack all together is seriously important to Ike, and it's been their ritual for as long as he can remember. (Our old district had the boys coming home a full hour earlier, though, so it was never a problem.) And while I'd love to try making that snack be a mini-meal for Ike with protein and balance and shit, if his brothers are eating granola bars and Goldfish, ehhhhh we're just going to shift the dinner time protests and tantrums to snack time.
And since his brothers are eating dinner like world-class champs of reformed picky eaters, I don't really want to change their snack up. They hoover up their snack, head off to homework/chores (once again leaving Ike on his own again, after he's been waiting for them for HOURS), and if dinner isn't ready by 6/6:30 you would think I am literally trying to starve them both to death.
Anyway. Boring. This is all so boring! The good news is, look at this!
Turns out, Ike will nap (or at least lie down for a significant chunk of quiet time) if I'm there. Like, either next to him in my bed typing on my lapdesk, or at my proper desk while he's in the guest bed. I'm not sure why I never thought to try this before -- something something wanting some damn peace and quiet while I work maybe -- but it's working. I'm still surprised he even needs a nap at 4 and a half, but he's been dozing/resting for about an hour and a half almost every day this week, so obviously he does.
And okay, fine, he's actually sleeping on top of me in that photo (hi Amy's boob) and I am most definitely not getting any work or housecleaning done. But some quality snuggles with my sneaky, scary smart baby?
Eh, all that other crap can wait. This is more important.