When my kids were young, I never imagine I would call home from work and check on whether my kids have done this or that or not do this or that. I saw one of my friends years back doing such remote control parenting and I secretly tell myself that perhaps I need not control my children this way.
Reality kicks in. Fast forward to 5 years later.
I make a pact with myself. No deliberate calls back home to check on whether they have done their homework, play their piano, stop watching TV, etc. The last thing I want is to have them hate receiving my calls from work. However, at times, I do call home to relay some messages to them like remember to bring the art file to school or let them know that I will be home late that night. Then before I put down the phone, I cannot resist but blurt out,”Did you play the piano today? How many hours of TV have you watched already? Go and study for your test tomorrow.”
What am I doing?
But.. but… How can I not check on this at work? I do not see them in the day time and I do not know what they are doing at home.
How many times when I reach home and check on the kiddos, they fail to complete what I have told them to? And when I find out their TV time is more than the allocated hours, I got mad.
This is the moment when I lament on being a working mum, again. It is difficult to not being physically at home and still ensure your kids DO what you want them to, it is even more challenging to ensure that they DO NOT do what you do not want them to. Caregivers can help out only that much and kids know whose buttons to push.
So, I decided to come out with a time-table for each of the children. I have to be frank. The time-table has a shelf life. After 1 month or so, no one follows them anymore. I have different sets of time-table at different stages. I have one for the new school term. I have one for the school holidays. I have one for the exams. We revisit the time-table several times in the year. So, this way, with the shelf life of 1 month, at least we cover half a year!
I need the time-table and I think the kids need it too.
With this, the kids are clear on what they are expected to do before or after school. I will know how much time they have spent on free play by checking on whether they have followed the time-table or not.
Below are 2 examples of time-tables we had used. Click on the link in captions to download the files.
As you can see, we allow limited technology time at home. I choose not to deprive the kids of some technology time in case when they do have their hands on technology in future, they may become unstoppable addicts.
How do I trust the kids?
Doing assessment books is easy check. Because I get to mark them.
Reading would be challenging even though the kids do not lie about it. Really?? I choose to believe so, because they tell me the truth when they do not read. Unfortunately, reading is not my kids’ love and I still have to enforce this as an “assignment” in what many other kids find it an enjoyment.
Playing piano is easy check with the caregivers in the house. You cannot miss the melodic tunes from the piano.
TV time is challenging. No one does a check like me on TV time. I can only ensure they do what they need to do and estimate that they do not have much time for TV before or after school. I allow for an hour’s TV time during the day and another half an hour in the evening. Another option is parental control on TV. Well, till Kel remembers his cable TV password for that lock!
Hobby time or free play time like my girl’s never dying rainbow loom hobby has an after homework rule. They get to have that after finishing up their homework. It is hard to check on this as well. But as long as homework is done, spelling learnt and assignments given are completed, I would not go into minutes and seconds.
How do you ensure your kids’ time is well spent when you are working?