1. No cell phones
My kids go to school 5 blocks from our house. They do not drive. They come right home after school. So even though “All their friends” have cell phones, my kids (11, 7, & 2) do not. I am not against cell phones for kids, especially if there is a reasonable expectation that they will need to contact parents during the day. We have not set an age or year of school when they will get cell phones, instead we will issue them when the time is right.
Pros–Our cell phone bill is under $100 a month.
Cons–Sometimes I think I would feel safer if they had them.
2. No personal computers/tablets
On the heels of their cell phone deprivation, we also force them to share the family computers and tablets. We have two PC’s, mostly because we haven’t totally transitioned to the new one we bought at the beginning of the year. This is convenient because we can allow kid use of one computer while the adults can use the other. We have a Kindle and on Christmas day will add a second tablet into the mix. These all will have to be shared. Pros–We are never all screen-faced at the same time. And it encourages good turn-taking habits, and hopefully the development of patience.
Cons–We are never all screen-faced at the same time. And taking turns is hard. And growing in patience is hard.
3. One activity at a time
Since I am a pastor, our free time schedule can fill up pretty quickly. I limit myself to 3 church activities a week, even then I often feel swamped. When our kids got to the age to start activities outside of school, we decided they would have to choose one at a time. That means our oldest had to say no to orchestra in order to say yes to Emporia Children’s Choir. If our middle child wants to play soccer, she will have to say no to other options.
Pros–A semi-sane schedule. Teaching priorities early.
Cons–Making hard choices.
4. Making them walk to school, even when it is cold
As mentioned in #1, we onlylive 5 blocks from school. They can walk in 10 minutes or less. When it is really cold, or raining, I will drop them off 2 blocks from school on my way to drop off their dad at work. Hardly anyone walks to school these days no matter how close they live. Therefore, since I have a car and do not drop them off I am the meanest mom ever.
Pros–They get at least 10 minutes of exercise a day. Teaching self-reliance….
Oh, and missing out on the drop off traffic jam that forms around the school.
5. Forcing them to make their own lunches…and other chores
Our kids do chores. I try to make it fun. Check out my Summer Chore System. I do my best to make it fair. I incentivize whenever I can. They are still chores. One they do almost every day is make their own lunches. PB, raisins, carrots, juice, sometimes extras. It isn’t hard, or time-consuming, and they get to make it the way they want. We still get copious requests for school lunch. Oh, the inhumanity.
Pros–I know what is going into their little bodies. At least when they go to college they will have mastered the PB sandwich and how to do dishes/take out the trash/clean their bathroom.
Cons–Sometimes redoing the chores they just did because while 7-year-old clean is good, 35-year-old clean is better.
6. No elf on a shelf or dinos in their drawers or other super-awesome parent-energy-intensive activity.
I.Just.Can’t.Do.It. If other parents can manage the time and energy to do these activities, that is fine. It is all I can do to keep up with my work and their chores, homework, and one activity. I am hoping that they don’t even know what elf on a shelf is, and will keep it that way until they grow up and move out.
Pros–I have less to photograph and post on facebook, twitter, and pinterest. Sanity.
Cons–I am a creative person, and it looks fun, but I know I would lose my mind trying to keep up.
So there you have it. Evidence that I am totally depriving my modern kids.
And I think I am ok with that.
Self-acceptance, now that’s ReFreshing!