My mom had an expression: “Never go upstairs empty handed”. This also included downstairs, outside, inside, into the garage… you get the point. Family living means things get left, placed, intentionally situated, all over the house. How long they remain in that spot is directly proportionate to your family’s adherence to the “never go anywhere empty handed” protocol. In my house, adherence is spotty at best. My tactic has been to place items that need to be taken to people’s rooms, the bathroom and linen closet, in the middle of the stairs that lead up to those rooms. Despite going up and down countless times these items can remain fixed on the stairs for days. Clearly I need to change tactics. If there is a world championship for indoor stair climbing my team would be in the final round.
If your home is also nurturing future stair climbing champs, send me a pic of your stairs full of stuff and I’ll pick one to draw an Art of Dad original!
Screenagers is a documentary film by Delaney Ruston that is currently making the rounds across North America. “Growing Up in the Digital Age” is the subtitle and the film covers a range of topics that include but aren’t limited to, gaming, social media and the pressures associated with it, addiction, digital citizenship and the role of screens in the lives of families. It clocks in at an hour and six minutes which was a bit long in the opinion of my teenager, but does a decent job of presenting some of the challenges facing teens and their parents when it comes to understanding the relationship we have with devices. I’d encourage you to see it should it be screening in your area. Please check out the following link for more details: Screenagers: The Movie
I brought my kids with me (kids 18 and under are free) and while they were reluctant at first (“Geez dad, will there even be any other kids there?” – there were), in the end they both felt it was worth while. The biggest take aways for us actually came from a panel discussion that happened after the screening. In it, we learned about the concept of “Goldilocks” – the notion that there can be too much screen time, too little and some that is just right. This amount will of course vary from family to family depending on their values but my kids liked this idea that there could be a happy medium. I fully support this notion. I work in an industry that creates content for screens, and my business was boosted when the iPad and like models came out opening up a whole new avenue for storytelling, so while I have a vested interest in content development I also don’t want screens to take over my kid’s lives. I’d prefer to have discussions with them about developing strategies to help them gain control of their usage and how to be good digital citizens rather than characterize screens as dangerous and addictive. Probably the best part of the whole experience was the talk we had on the drive home. Here are the ideas that stuck with us the most:
There can be a happy medium of screen usage and it’s up to kids and their parents to discuss this together
Self control takes practice and we as parents are there to help
One of the film’s experts, Laura Kastner, talked about the idea of high school students being “under programmed”. She quoted a stat that 40% of teens don’t have after school programs and are turning to screens to fill their time
Fake Likes. I had no idea what this was but my teenage daughter explained it to me. She pointed out that this can be better managed by making one’s online profiles private thereby restricting comments to people you know.
Parents need to take a look in the mirror and examine their screen time usage. Do you take your phone into the bathroom with you? Do you look at it as soon as you wake up? Right before you go to bed? Guilty…
The irony that we were watching a film about screen usage on a screen and that we were being asked and encouraged to post our thoughts online and to respond to questions and ideas, through our screens
If nothing else, this film provided another opportunity to discuss this subject together. I don’t know what is right or wrong, I’m not sure anyone does, but based on our family’s values we will continue to make decisions that support what we believe in. Perhaps the most important thing we can offer our kids when it comes to screen time is an open, non-judgemental door to talk.
Yes, we’ve reached that glorious time of life where our daughter luxuriates in long, drawn out hot showers. Somehow, her brother is always in desperate need to brush his teeth when she is showering, but to be fair to him, it can be a bit of a wait. While I’m not so sure he actually cares about the water bill, I do believe it was a crafty move on his part to steer the conversation in a financial direction in an effort to jolt me into action in support of his dental hygiene needs.
Ok, let’s start off by making a few things perfectly clear: In our current set-up, I do pretty much all the laundry, including folding and putting away for my wife and I. The kids get folded laundry on their beds and are responsible for disrupting the carefully folded garments and jamming them into their drawers. Sometimes I have all the clean clothes dumped on our bed mid-fold when I get distracted and leave things in a semi-finished state. Such was the case yesterday when the kids came into our bedroom and for some reason decided to start folding things. Ben hit my underwear and after two tries declared it impossible. He then proceeded to perfectly fold my wife’s underwear. I’ve always found women’s underwear damn near impossible to fold. Fronts look like backs, strings are tiny, they look the same upside down or right side up. It’s always been a puzzle so I typically fold things into a tragically unappealing ball and call it quits. My 10 year old son revealed the simplicity for me in 4 easy steps – see below:
Ok, lesson learned. Watch out Marie Kondo, you’ve got some competition. Thongs though are still a mess of spaghetti…
It didn’t seem the right time to have a discussion about a house being a structure that becomes the home where memories are made and held onto, so I just let it go and carried the burden of knowing I’d sold out her childhood to myself…