On Schedule by Robin Gorman Newman

At my husband’s suggestion, we consulted with a parent trainer this past weekend.

She is someone who worked with my son when he was little, and we’ve called on as needed over the years.

She is wonderful, and makes at-home visits and can also work on the phone. (Happy to make a referral if you drop me note requesting.  robin@motherhoodlater.com)

We decided to see her because Seth has become a computer addict.  He has a Mac Book Pro laptop, and he can sit for hours glued to the screen.

If at age 9, this is already the case, what does the future hold?

He’s not doing anything bad….mostly he plays games, finds sites where he can build, etc.  Sometimes he’ll go on a site like Club Penguin, where he can connect with friends, but that’s not his emphasis.

Our concern is that it can easily dominate his free time.

He’s forgotten how he loved to build with Legos.

How he enjoys playing Wii.

How he can create amazing structures with MagnaTiles.

How he love to draw, and has talent.

He is a creative kid with a vivid imagination, and we hate to see him fixed to a machine for hours on end.

So, we brought in an expert to help us get a grip.

We’ve gotten varying opinions from friends, and want to do what’s best for our family.  There’s no one answer, but we need to have a comfort level, as does Seth.

What she suggested is that we make up a daily chart spelling out, hour by hour, what will transpire when Seth gets home.  And, to schedule the weekends, too, as best we can, working around any plans we make.

Seth was hugely resistant, as we expected.  He balked and pouted and flat out refused.  But, surprisingly, by the end of the next school day, he bought into it.  And, has come to me asking at times if he can go on the computer, since he wasn’t totally sure.  It’s been hard to stick to the schedule verbatim, but having something on paper has made a huge difference.

The parent trainer asked Seth how much time he spends on the computer and how much time he thinks he should spend.  He didn’t have the answer to either question, but has come to understand that, at least during the week, we’re not taking away computer time, we’re just making sure he doesn’t get distracted by it to the detriment of homework or dinner.  We now make sure he doesn’t go on his Mac until after he gets done what he needs to, because breaking from it once engrossed has proven challenging.  And, I can relate, because it’s easy to become a technology addict, and I don’t like it, even for myself.

We have yet to go through a weekend with a timetable, so we’ll see how it goes.  But, it helped for Seth to hear the suggestion from a third party and for him to have a chance to weigh in on it.  I want him to feel part of it.  We did not want to make this seem like a punishment or denial, though as parents we have the control and right to dictate what we think is best.  For that reason, it was hard for us to know how to proceed, and I’m relieved we now have a plan.

We also now don’t allow him to take the laptop out of the house.  In the past, we permitted it at the diner and pool club, but then it was becoming a battle to both protect the machine, and get him to enjoy a family meal without feeling interrupted in the middle of a heated game that drew his attention.  It’s not always easy to say no to him, but as the trainer pointed out, things will only get worse if we don’t set limitations now. 

I’m certain this plan will be a work in progress, but at least Seth now has a higher consciousness of his computer usage, and has regained interest in other forgotten activities.  It’s still not easy to get him to focus on homework or willingly jump in the bath or shower, but with a written chart, we have ammunition, and it makes things that much more official.

Do you find it a challenge to manage your child’s time, and do you find computer usage a challenge?  How much do you allow?


  1. 2 Responses to “On Schedule by Robin Gorman Newman”

  2. I’m terribly addicted to technology too, and often have to remind myself of the many other things I should or could be doing. I can only imagine the difficulty your son has in tearing himself away, especially since he’s still learning impulse control. Good on you, Robin, for helping him find the happy mediums in his life. I know many parents are grateful to have the electronic babysitter, much to the detriment of their children’s physical fitness and social activity.

    By Heather Bowles on Oct 6, 2012

  3. You really did marry a Mensch! Not many men would initiate asking for help (like asking for directions?). Tell Marc he gets 2 thumbs up from me! You are both terrific and dedicated parents!

    By Cara Meyers on Oct 6, 2012