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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    11,372

    Default School vacations and TV/computer time vs Anything else

    Wondering how you parents handle school breaks and activities.

    My stepdaughters arrived Tuesday morning to join us for Thanksgiving and head home Monday. My husband only had yesterday off so it's just been the kids and me. They'll be here over winter break and he has no time off then either, so this scenario will repeat but for longer in just a few weeks.

    We got home from the airport at 11:30 on Tuesday. From 11:30 to 6pm, all they did was watch TV and play on the computer. I invited them to go on dog walks with me, invited them to go to the greenhouse, offered to take them out to the barn, asked them to start unpacking their rooms (new house), etc etc. Not interested.

    Wednesday, we were going to make pies and cookies--something they helped with last year and enjoyed. This year? Heck, they didn't even get out of bed til 10 and then again with the TV.

    Yesterday, they did take the dogs out for me while I prepared Thanksgiving dinner, but otherwise...more TV.

    For today, I offered to take them downtown to meet Dad for lunch , see where he works now, and go to a museum. I offered to take them to the barn. I asked them if there was anything they wanted to do. Nothing other than wanting to go to a movie tonight. SD14 is still in bed, SD13 has taken up residence on the couch and is watching Spongebob.

    There have been so many changes as of late that I don't want to harp on them to get them up and around and doing something, but I also don't want to just leave them home alone watching TV all day while I go do my own thing.

    For today, I'm just going to let it roll. I haven't gotten to see my horse in a week so I'm going to head out there. (that's a 4 hour deal minimum due to drive time)

    But when they are here for a couple of weeks over Christmas, ...then what?

    What do you guys do?

    This isn't new behavior, btw. It's just that before, I was working full time so I guess I didn't notice it as much nor was there much I could do about it.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 30, 2007
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    Hollowed out volcano in the South Pacific.
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    11,873

    Default

    Here's what you do....

    1. Compile a list of all the things they both like and are into.

    2. Correlate that with activities available in the area for you to do as a family.

    3. Make them go out and have some fun while bonding with you!

    It's that simple. All the holiday stuff will be in full swing after Christmas, so you will have plenty to choose from. Today is definitely a veg day but this weekend has a lot of opportunities for you to take advantage of if you can figure out what they like.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2005
    Location
    between the mountains and the sea, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,936

    Default

    I would set some boundaries, but your husband is going to have to be in on this too. It won't work if you are the only one enforcing them. I get cutting them some slack because of the changes in your lives (you just moved to VA, right?) but that is also not a long term excuse. RE: the TV, I'd say something like 1 hour a day, and then they can choose a movie for the family to watch in the evening. Then give them options of things to do....go to the library/bookstore and choose books? Walk the dogs? Visit a new local attraction? Even go to the mall, but again with the boundary setting: One thing each, or they can only spend their allowance or whatever. RE the computer: You are probably going to have to set an example here too, sorry about that :-P, but I'd set a time frame for it too. They are only teens & see their friends every day at school so it shouldn't take them that long to check facebook even if they do have one.

    The kids I au paired for in Paris were only allowed to watch movies, and only one on the weekends or Wednesday afternoons if homework was done (they did not have school on Wednesdays). They always found stuff to do, so your step daughters can to.
    "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
    "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    43,042

    Default

    You may not like my answer, but here it goes.
    I have seen some teenagers and even younger kids like that.
    They remind me of those young cattle that we send to a feedlot, where they are extremely happy, nothing to do all day but eat the best food they ever thought existed, lay around chewing their cud with congenial friends doing the same and sleep, to again repeat the next day.

    Why go out to walk around to find your next bite, when much better food is laying right there in front of you?
    Being a couch potato, room and board and the best four star meals, for any species, is the ultimate bliss.

    WHY would any such cattle or teenagers get off their behind and even think to want to do any other?
    Especially for a few weeks for cattle, a vacation for those kids and yes, some adults also.

    Now, if your teenagers live like that for longer than a vacation, then, since they have a long life ahead of them they need to provide for themselves somehow, that they veg out is really not an option.
    For a few days, why not?

    I could never sit still long, but my brothers were like your teenage girls, lived in an alternate reality when on vacation.
    I chalked that to individual idiosyncratic personality traits, not a fault in them, as otherwise they did get their stuff done.

    Some such teens even grow up to make good, productive adults, eventually.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2006
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
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    4,715

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post

    But when they are here for a couple of weeks over Christmas, ...then what?

    What do you guys do?

    .


    pull the plug on the cable/Internet? I know really easy for me to say but our kids were always doing something... but they were not being transferred as cattle from pasture to pasture.


    Do they have any future goals? Do you know anything about what they consider important...other than doing nothing


    Might want to have them watch 1984 and Clockwork Orange as it appears we are there



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 19, 2009
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,287

    Default

    I'm assuming by SD14 and SD13 you are saying they are 14 and 13 years old. In that case, a lot of their behavior can be explained by their ages.

    As a former step-parent (well, my SD is 28 so it's not the same deal anymore) and also as a mom of a 20 and 17 year old, my own kids were way easier to raise and deal with than my non-custodial SD. It's a real challenge.

    For Christmas, why don't you and your husband make a list of things that you think would be fun to do ( a long list) and give the girls a chance to pick from it? Let the girls add to it if there's something they have in mind. I don't know how busy with school and activities they are, but they might be enjoying having some down time.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2006
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    Fort Worth, Texas
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    Default

    my post was completely independent of Bluey .... Texans see a lot in their cows


    4 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by clanter View Post
    my post was completely independent of Bluey .... Texans see a lot in their cows
    How funny.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    9,274

    Default

    For a few days, don't fight it. For Christmas/holiday break set a schedule. They get limits on tv, computer, and internet time; have to unpack their own rooms, and do their own chores like clothes washing, and putting away. They get to plan and be responsible for dinner a few nights during their stay, and as others said plan a long list of activities, and they pick some. If they don't want to select activities then you and dad choose them. If you let them, then they will turn you into the wait staff at a deluxe hotel, so don't let them.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2003
    Location
    N. Augusta, SC (but forever a BUCKEYE!)
    Posts
    1,737

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post



    For today, I offered to take them downtown to meet Dad for lunch , see where he works now, and go to a museum. I offered to take them to the barn. I asked them if there was anything they wanted to do. Nothing other than wanting to go to a movie tonight. SD14 is still in bed, SD13 has taken up residence on the couch and is watching Spongebob.
    In the example about having lunch with their dad, I don't think I would have even asked. The evening prior I would have simply said, "Hey girls...your dad really wants to have lunch with you tomorrow and show you his new office. Afterwards, we're going to the museum." Next morning, "Time to get ready girls. We're off to ____ for lunch with dad and the museum after."

    Sure, they'll probably moan and groan and complain, say that they don't want to go, but that's how most teenagers act.

    In the end, they'll probably like lunch, be bored at dad's new office (but he's still their dad) and might just enjoy the museum.
    Random horse pics http://www.flickr.com/photos/glfprncs/
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    2 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 12, 1999
    Location
    Belchertown, MA
    Posts
    700

    Default Try taking the choice out of it.

    Instead of asking how about telling? (in a friendly, excited kind of way of course). You've got to become one with the camp director mentality.

    Instead of, "Hey kids, would you like to go for a walk, do lunch and then a little shopping?" which then leaves you wide open for "No, we'd rather watch tv".

    You could try, "Hey kids, here is the plan for tomorrow. I'm going to wake you up at 9 a.m., we'll have breakfast - pancakes yipee- then we're going to run a few errands and go for a walk in the park with the dogs. After that, we'll drop them at home and meet with dad for lunch at his office. On the way home, I need to swing by the mall and grocery store and we'll do a little shopping. Tomorrow night is taco night. I'll show you how to make tacos and we can surprise dad with them for dinner." No discussion about it - you just made the plan for the day - period.

    It is always good to give a preview and time ahead to adjust to the plan. It works well with my 6 year old at any rate!

    For your longer xmas break, maybe plan several activities for the week including a day at the movie theater for an afternoon movie to at least get them out of the house. Wednesday = ice skating, Thursday = cross country skiing or sledding, Friday = bowling, Saturday = movie day, Sunday = day with you at the barn.

    Give them choices of "either /or" instead of "yes or no". For example - "The weather says snow tonight, tomorrow would you like to go sledding at the big hill OR try cross country skiing on the trails? We'll leave at about 10 a.m. Breakfast at 9".

    Good luck!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 11, 2007
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    5,691

    Default

    My kids are 12.5 and 15... We didn't have tv until two years ago and the computer is a constant issue but I don't let them devote entire days to it. I will shut off the computer for the day, shut off the tv, and get everyone out the door. They always come around and wake up and start talking and are genuinely happier when they get away from the cud chewing. Which is a completely accurate way to describe it.

    I'd make up some BS about the computer is down and the remote batteries are dead and now what can we do. Take it off the table. They're young and smart, they'll come alive when they need to.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    43,042

    Default

    I grew up before we had TVs at all.
    I think I was 10 when the first were sold and there were programs transmitted, in black and white, for four hours in the evening.
    I got to see the first TV with canned old westerns in a neighbor's place when I was 12 on some Saturday afternoons.

    What did we kids have to sit there and make our parents crazy because we were not out doing something else?
    BOOKS
    You remember books, those things you had to hold and open, page by page and stick your nose in them and they took you to all kinds of different magical, oh so interesting worlds?
    You could lose hours reading, whole days and nights immersed in them!

    I think that TV/computers today take their place and like all such, when it comes to kids, parents just have to deal with it.
    Parents are supposed to be the smart ones here, surely there are ways to get kids to do what a parent wants?

    I like the suggestions of organizing their days for them without letting them have a choice if to cooperate, but sweetening that with some choices about what to do.
    It may be a battle at first, if they got their way already too much.
    When we are talking about more than a couple of days, it may be one necessary battle.

    Good luck, they will be grown and gone before you know it.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2006
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    4,984

    Default

    I think your biggest issue is the "step" part of it. What does their dad say? How does he feel?

    In general, I agree that a week of sloth won't hurt anything. If, however, you are feeling like a servant - cooking for them and cleaning up after them - it cannot go on like that. In that case I would set very clear rules about meals and cleaning or the TV and computer are OFF.

    My sister and her dd just visited for a week. I think her dd (who is only 7) is a very spoiled, annoying child. If she were MY child, I would not allow her behavior. But since I only see her for a couple of weeks a year, it's not in my power to change her.

    If your step-kids are only with you for a week, it's really hard to change them or make them more engaging or responsible. Your husband would have to be the one to set down the rules if it really bothers him.

    The age issue is not the issue. My dd is 14 and we do NOT allow the TV or computer games/Wii games during the day. It's just not allowed. Period. And it's not a problem, because that's just how it is. Sometimes we relax the rule on weekends or holidays, and it's a treat for them. But we have every day, all year long to shape this behavior, not just a week.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2009
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    1,883

    Default

    Could you meet them in the middle?

    Give them a few days over Christmas break to "chew their cud" and have a few days where you have 1 main activity that takes up 2-3 hours in the afternoon and a few days where you have a 4-6 hour day of activity(s) planned.


    I don't know what their daily life is like when school is in session, but if they are doing school (8-3) and then a sport or other extra curricular activity (4-6) and then homework. Well 5 days a week their schedule is just as demanding as a working stiff. I would say that they may deserve some time to decompress. Each to his/her own on how that is best achieved for themselves.

    I agree that it's important to do some bonding activities. It surely will be a shock to them that you are expecting that now when it hadn't been a priority before because you didn't have time.

    How about sitting down and "chewing cud" with them. I'm not saying ALL DAY, but an hour or two here and there watching TV may provide some bonding as well.

    I find for myself if I require certain tasks to be done by noon and then another task by 5, it helps them to plan their own activity/laziness. Sometimes the hardest part is getting moving, but once moving and engaged things are all good.


    1 members found this post helpful.

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