The work and life balance isn’t easy. Whether it’s too much technology, too much work, too much television, or just “too much,” parents are always doing a “Balancing Act” with their time. Who gets it, who doesn’t, who needs it, who has been left out, etc. It’s a classic parental dilemma and one that has only gotten more complicated with modern life.
All parents understand about setting boundaries for their kids. How much television can they watch? How late can they stay up? Homework, friends, driving, sleepovers, the list is endless.
But, we parents have to also regulate ourselves. Are we spending too much time on our tech devices, too much time working or playing on our computers? Are you justifying the work time because it’s work? Do your kids know the difference when they’re ignored?
A few basic tips and suggestions:
1. At your family dinners, have a basket nearby and ALL portable tech devices get put into it. Yours too Dad (or Mom), no matter what call or text you’re expecting.
2. Limit your “screen time” when home. That includes every screen there is and when you really think about it, there are quite a few – the television, computer, e-book reader, smart phone, portable video game, regular video games, iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc.
3. If you just can’t get away from your computer, on weekends, spend the early mornings when your kids are sleeping doing your thing and then STOP.
4. Create some projects that you might do in family units on the computer. For instance, organizing, editing, and printing your family photos. Choose the best together, and display them on a photo web site like Picassa or Flickr orany of the multitudes of other web-sites that serve that purpose. Buy a digital frame and make it a family project to update the photos.
When your children are younger, I would further suggest that there is just one computer for their use and it’s in a public space. That way, you are easily able to monitor their activity and you can even use a timer to limit their time on it. Don’t delude yourself that every learning program is good for them. It’s still time on a screen rather than time interacting with another human being, let alone a family member.
Boomer Tech Talk believes that it is incumbent, valuable, and truly a great enhancement to your life to get comfortable with much modern technology. We stand by that and that is a big reason we created this website. However, even our love of technology and our reason d’être understands its limits and they especially apply to family life.
The above tips, cautions, and suggested boundaries will help you with the non-stop balancing act of parenting and family life. Pay attention to these things and how you’re spending your time. Remember one of my parenting mottos: your kids are on loan for a very short time. Treasure that time and don’t look back with Cats In the Cradle* regrets!
*Cats In the Cradle the great song written and performed by Harry Chapin; released in 1974. Here are some of his lyrics:
My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then
NOTE: Bruce’s first book – A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation – comes out in May, in time for Father’s Day.