So we have a problem in our house these days. It’s been happening more and more frequently, and it was out of control.
For the most part, Mase is a very independent kid. He CAN entertain himself and play for hours, (which he should, he has enough toys to entertain an army) but recently I’ve noticed all this kid wants to do is watch Netflix on Daddy’s iPad or watch flipping Dora on tv. I mean, I’ve got no problem with popping on a little Disney Jr, but it’s getting out of hand. We had gotten to the point of like serious fits and craziness when I would tell him to turn it off and even I was singing along to the Octonauts Creature Report song. It’s catchy, they’re smart over there at Disney.
I’m already drowning in the hideous guilt I feel for constantly trying to redirect my child while I work from home, which I chose to do so I could be close to him and involved in his days. But of course he does not understand what my problem is since I’m sitting in front of him but can’t race cars on his ramp all day. It’s incredibly confusing to a two year old, actually it’s fairly confusing to me as well. And on top of the work-guilt, I also feel equally guilty that instead of constructive or mind engaging playtime, he’s zoned out in front of a device half the day.
And I should mention it since my mom reminds me constantly that I am lucky and that I am able to do a lot with him. He has play dates and park time and beach days and lots of fun, but I think as a mom you sort of always try to do “better”. Whatever that means, and even if an objective outsider claims you’re doing a good job juggling all of this craziness.
I was super frustrated and tired of pinning “ways to keep your toddler engaged without electronics” articles and was venting to my mom about my general concern about Mason and his random schedule and my coping mechanisms for just doing what I need to do to get by. I mean things were tough enough and now I’m pregnant too, so I have to get creative with my approach to daily accomplishments. I had lofty goals once upon a time, and now my priorities have shifted. For example, a reasonable goal for today would have been: did everyone eat at some point some amount today and no one was harmed and/or killed? Yes? Okay then, today is a win.
Let me tell you a little something about Mama Phelan. She was a high school math teacher once upon a time, a principal for a while and then she homeschooled my brother and I off and on. (Brave, brave soul) She’s a wealth of knowledge and full of genius kid ideas and if she could just parent Mase for me too that would be great. She won’t, because she claims being a grandma is way more fun, so I just have to tap her resourceful brain and hope for the best.
She gave me the genius idea of creating a chore chart of simple tasks for Mase every day, and once completed, he could get tokens for TV time. BOOM game changer. The first iteration of the Chore Chart was a super ghetto version I drew myself with Mason’s Crayola markers and I didn’t even use a ruler for the lines which really annoyed/annoys Josh. I taped photos of things I wanted Mase to work on so he could easily identify his chores by fun pictures. It’s ridiculous and embarrassing because I have horrible penmanship and crooked lines, but let me just tell you this bad boy works!
Mase gets a sticker for each completed task and at the end of the day once he’s in bed I tally up the stickers and fill a special bucket up with his tokens. The next day, when he wakes up, when he asks to watch tv or play on the iPad, I ask him to check his bucket for tokens and he has to give one to me before I will turn it on. Our first day he burned through all of the tokens before nap time. That made the later afternoon while I was trying to get dinner together realllllly tough, but bless his heart there were no fits. It’s like the simple disconnect between mommy just saying no because I’m a hateful monster to “sorry, you used up your tokens” was a miracle. The next day I tried to ration him out a little, and even with that he was good without fits! It’s even helping us work on breaking up with the paci, which he was having a really hard time with. I just remind him he has to leave it in the crib or he can’t have a tv token, and he puts it away. Powerful stuff my friends.
I wanted to wait to post about this because I’ve tried chore charts in the past and he’s kind of been over it in a few days. So far though we’re almost 2 weeks in and still going strong! To be fair as well, it has also illustrated how lazy I am…. I mean let’s be honest it’s easier to pick up the flipping toys yourself than battle it out to get them put away at the end of the day. This chart isn’t making things perfect by any means, but it’s helping, and actually it’s helping me as much as him. And in the current state of affairs, every little bit counts!
My next endeavor is doing something nice in Photoshop perhaps and having it laminated. But for now…. Behold!!!!
Things are by no means perfect and for the love of God why is eating dinner so hard for two year olds, but I love it when someone stumbles on something that might help me with my kid, so I hope the idea of a chore chart/ simple reward system spark some good ideas for anyone who might be feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with motivating and rewarding these feisty nuggets!