This fall, I started enforcing the rule that the kids couldn’t use technology (t.v., computers, iPad, etc) until after dinner. While the benefits were awesome (more time outdoors, creative projects everywhere) there were limitations, too. Namely, my sanity. Especially during snowstorms, rainy days, and that pre-dinner witching hour that makes me break out in hives just thinking of it. Plus, they’d get cranky when I said no or when it was time to turn it off. While reading the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown (a must-read book for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed), there was a nugget of wisdom that rocked my world. The author suggested handing out a limited number of ‘Technology Tickets’ at the beginning of the week and letting the kids turn one in when they wanted screen time. They could also earn additional tickets by reading for 30 minutes. At the end of the week, they could turn in unused tickets for .50 each. We gave it a shot, and just like the author promised, IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM.
How well did it work? We reduced screen time significantly, there were no more tantrums or whining, and by week two they earned $2.50 each in unused tickets! It’s a funny thing– by giving kids the structure to make good choices, they felt in control and made better decisions. Imagine that!
Listen, do I wish my kids never felt the need to use screens and instead worked on creating world peace? Of course. But as I recently heard quoted on NPR, technology is the air they breathe and the water they drink. It’s infused in their lives more than we could ever have anticipated. I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. But as a parent, I can help them navigate this brave new world that I didn’t have myself; you know, having been born in the Jurassic period and all.
But I digress. These tickets are so easy to use. I printed out one color for each child (there’s three to choose from, so if you have four kids, first of all God bless you and second, you can have the kids write their names on each one or print on different colored paper).
Each sheet has five 15 minute tickets and five 30 minute tickets. I’ve found that they do a great job of knowing which one to use and when, and quickly figured out they could combine two 30 tickets for a movie, or each contribute one 15 minute ticket to watch a full episode of Scooby Doo. I’m telling you, these tickets have been such a blessing and restored peace again!
Another rule: THEY are responsible for taking care of them. If they lose their tickets, too bad– they don’t get replenished again until Sunday night. See, it also teaches responsibility!
If they run out early, reading for half an hour earns them one more. At the end of the week if they have extras I pay up– .50 per ticket. Well worth every penny.
Since I made them for my kids (and we tested them and they work SO well), I wanted to share them with you too!
To print, click on the desired photo (or the link above it) and download to your computer. Then print. Feel free to get fancy and laminate them or print on cardstock, quite honestly I printed mine on plain paper and they have held up well so far!
What do they do instead of technology? Here’s a few photos from this week:
I can honestly report that these tickets have been a game-changer. If you love this idea, I hope you’ll share this post!
By the way, here’s the book I recommended (Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less). It’s not a parenting book but rather about simplifying and overcoming the urge to do more. I LOVED IT, and it has been a guiding principal in getting me through the busiest summer of my life so far.
Take the challenge and let me know how it works for your family. Just make sure you’re ready for more peaceful summers and less tantrums over screen-time!