screen time and wanderlust

Remember those bumper stickers that said "Kill your TV"? I get that now, only in my house it's not about the TV, it's about the computer. Since when did daily screen time become a God-given right that should not be sacrificed for any reason whatsoever? This evening my 10yo complained that he didn't get enough computer time because his homework took too long. So unfair and unjust that he was limited to less than his usual time watching gamers on YouTube and playing whatever scrolling video game is the latest because his math took an extra 20 minutes.

My kids have limits on screen time and they're not allowed to have it until certain tasks are complete (homework if they have it, cleaning out their lunch box from school, setting the table for dinner, general pick up of their crap on the floor, and they also help with clean up after dinner), but still, I feel like I am failing as a parent in this regard. Like maybe they (the boy, especially) wouldn't be so insistent on getting screen time if they had more hobbies, or played more sports, or had lots of friends to roam the neighborhood with. Alas, I can't force them to have hobbies, I'm not a big fan of organized sports, and all the neighborhood kids are similarly busy or spending their time playing computer games, too. 

Taking away screen time would seem like a punishment, and that's not what I'm after. I just wish I could find a way to draw their interest to more productive activities in a positive and organic way. The first thing that comes to mind is that they should help more with dinner, but my late afternoon schedule is so crazy Monday through Thursday that we're lucky I haven't resorted to take out yet. If I had to allow even more time to have them help, we wouldn't eat until bedtime. 

Another thing I've thought of is just sending them outside. But that doesn't always work, like when it's raining, or when it's dark by 5:00 (which will be the case soon enough.) Much as I would like to have more or less free range kids, that just doesn't always work.

You know what I really want to do? Take off on a road trip. Spend a couple weeks driving someplace completely new, maybe out west. Go camping or rent a cabin (bears kind of freak me out), hike up a mountain, paddle around in a kayak, huddle around the campfire on a chilly evening. 

It seems I've got a touch of the wanderlust and I think it's a natural reaction to feeling bogged down and emotionally drained (not dangerously so, just a little spent) with daily life and the election and the more gnarly issues of parenting a soon-to-be teenager.


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