Bramell, Party of Five: January 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Guest Post: Monitoring Your Kids' Tech Time

I'm starting something new on my blog today.  My plan is to introduce you to one of my favorite blogs (and blogger friends) once a month. I'm going to ask my buddies to contribute a post here and provide a link to direct you to their blogs.  First up is my friend Fawn, who shares a very practical and easy way that she monitors her children's tech time.  I hope you'll also check out her blog and add her to your blog list, if she's not there already. --Rhonda 

DIY Technology Tickets
Tablets, hand held games, TV, smart phones, xbox, and so on.  Kids love technology. Sometimes a little too much.  Inspired by this Pinterest pin, I decided to start using technology tickets at our house to make sure that we weren’t overdoing it with our screen time. 
Our system works like this:
  •  Each technology ticket is worth 30 minutes of any kind of technology use.
  •  Each child gets a total of 8 tickets to use each week (4 hours worth).
  •  It is their choice of when to use them, but if they run out they’re done for the week.
  •  If two children are playing a video game together or watching the same TV show, they both pay.
  •  Parental discretion gives us the right to deny access to the technology when  needed.
  • We generally don’t make them pay for things like family movie night or if they are up and moving around with an active Kinect video game. 

You can set your own rules and guidelines – this is just what works for us.

Now, our technology tickets are not as pretty as the example I saw on Pinterest, but getting my kids involved in creating the tickets helped them understand how the system would work, and also (surprisingly) got them excited about it.

Here’s how we made our technology tickets:

·         Index cards (or other cardstock paper)
·         Paint pens (markers or crayons would work fine too)
·         Scrapbooking Scissors – the kind that cut different patterns
·         A hole punch – we used a large circle punch so the tickets would fit on our coat hooks, but you can use whatever size you like.


1.       Trim the short sides of each index card with the scrapbooking scissors to make it look like a ticket.

2.  Punch a hole in the top of each ticket.

3.       Have your child write their name on the bottom of each ticket.
4.       Label each ticket with “Technology Ticket”

5.       Find a “home” for them where the kids can easily see how many tickets they have available to them.  Our technology tickets hang in our backpack command center .

6.       You may want to have the kids make a few extra tickets in case their tickets get lost or torn.

7.       I also made REWARD tickets. The kids know they can earn these for doing something extra nice or for outstanding behavior.

The Finished Product:

This system not only keeps the kids in check, it keeps me in check too. It also taught some interesting lessons in budgeting and kindness.  I was amazed when my preschooler started keeping track of how many tickets he had left, would ask me how many days were left in the week, and often opted for a non-screen activity based on his tickets to days remaining ratio. One day when he was out of tickets, his sister used her tickets to pay his way to a TV show so that they could both watch together.  I hope this little tool will pave the way to more peaceful technology use at your house too.
Fawn Rechkemmer writes about motherhood, being green, health and fitness, travel, and other things that make her go, “hmm…” on her blog, Instead of the Dishes.



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hello 2014!

I’m not into New Year’s resolutions, and never have been.  It’s hard for me to set challenges for myself because I don’t like the possibility of failing.   In this season of my life, things are so hectic and always changing.  That is why there are no goals, expectations or plans for the new year; I just try to do the best I can with what I have.
Many of my blogger buddies have chosen special “words” to focus on for the coming year.  I’ve seen things like focus, simplify, and intention floating around out there.  While I’m all for the concept of having a deliberate theme or plan, I just couldn’t settle on anything for myself.  Maybe I am not giving it a fair chance, or maybe I cannot concentrate on the task long enough to even think of a word. 
However, while I was pondering this concept over my blogging vacation, I did have an interesting thought.  There is something I want to not focus on this year, or take out of my vocabulary.  Kind of the opposite idea of the exercise, but still worthwhile.   My problem is with saying “I can’t.”  I’ve come to realize that it’s really a crutch for me because sometimes it’s just easier to say “I can’t” than to put in the real effort to accomplish the task.
Ironically, I’ve also noticed that I’m rather annoyed with my kids when they rely on can’t.  For example, when he is searching for something, Boy Twin is quick to whine, “I can’t find it” and ask for my help.  In reality, he hasn’t even tried to find the book/toy/shoe in question.  I want my kids to be independent and at least make an effort to do something on their own the first time, without requesting help.
Big Sis taught me a little something about can’t recently.  She said this is a theme they focus on at her school.  Apparently, there is a sign that hangs in the hallway that encourages the students to instead say, “I can’t…yet.”  I love this!  Since she shared this with me, I’ve been more mindful to encourage her at home by adding the yet on the end of that statement.
So, in this new year, I’m not going to say that I can lose 30 pounds and set myself up for disappointment, but I’m not going to say that I can’t either.  And I won’t say that I can run a whole 5K by my birthday, but I won’t say that I can’t either.  I’m going to help remind my kids that maybe if we think we can’t, it only means that we just can’t do it yet. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Holiday Recap

Hello! I guess this means that I'm back from my blogging break.  As you can see, there have been absolutely zero changes to the blog...not what I had planned for this break.  With the bad weather, working holidays in retail, traveling and other general craziness, I just didn't get my list of blog chores done.  But I will work on it.
Now that we are well into the new year, I thought I should do a quick recap of Christmas.  We stayed home and celebrated with just the five of us.  We started the day with checking out the kids' loot from Santa and opening our gifts.  Then we had a big breakfast while the kids played.  We later enjoyed a big feast at home and finished the day by watching some of our new movies.

The kids' Christmas jammies were a big hit this year!  We had fun being silly and taking some pictures.

Here are the kids with their favorite gifts.  In fact, in a strange turn of events, each kid specifically asked Santa for one thing only. Lucky for them, Santa delivered!

More than anything, Boy Twin wanted a "Bob the Builder truck."  Doesn't he look so happy?  Big Sis requested, begged, pleaded and longed for an American Girl doll.  Um, Santa did what he could on that one.  Meet Sadie; Big Sis is in LOVE! 

Girl Twin simply requested "a new Sissy," which means "a new doll" and NOT a new sister. We are thankful that Santa understood that loud and clear.

We ended our holiday festivities with a weekend trip to Wynne to see the family.  In all, my kids had four Christmases and thought they'd hit the Christmas Jackpot.  I told them many times that they are so lucky to have so many people that love them and want to spoil them rotten.  We had a great time visiting, laughing and eating with everyone this holiday season.  Thanks to you all for loving my kids.
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