The Screen Time Dilemma

Like most parents, I am concerned with my daughter Soleil’s welfare and education. One of the most disconcerting things about this time period is her interest in video and games, and what is an often poor reaction to being separted from the media.

Soleil throws sever temper tantrums when she video and ipad time ends, which is now causing us to discipline her more frequently. Specifically, we are using corner time, room time, restricted access to video, and grounding to work through this period.

She doesn’t go to school yet, but her start is imminent (waiting on pddy training to take hold). Until then we’re actively reading with her and more. We’d love interactive games and fun learning to be a part of this. She’ll need the skills to succeed later in life, but the impact on her mental and emotional development requires close moderation of use and access.

The Need to Be Engaged

With education in the United States continuing to deteriorate (41st int he world), parents need to be more involved in their children’s welfare. It’s important for parents to actively participate in their child’s education. It’s not enough to go on autopilot and let schools and tools (technology and media) lead the way.

This is one of the reasons why I am thrilled to help my client the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) with its first annual Big Give, or the #BigGive4Families, this November 1. More on this at the end, but in short NCFL’s mission is to use the family as the focal point for learning.

I think that’s more imperative now, thanks to technology. Digital media are advancing so quickly that parents have to be actively involved in their child’s activities. There are many unexpected traps.

One example is the application PBS Kids. PBS offers great programming, but it’s also addictive and creates the Soleil zombie state where she won’t do anything else, and then throws temper tantrums upon separation. Perhaps that’s Soleil’s personality at play, but I would normally feel safe trading on the PBS name. Sorry Daniel the Tiger, but access to you has become restricted (My Little Pony, too).

Screen time behavior is the biggest challenge facing Soleil right now, so all in all, we have high quality problems. Soon she’ll start Montesori school, which has no tech, no phones lying around, etc, and that will help. Notice that we are sending her to private school.

It is my intent to make sure she has the opportunity to participate in the finest schools possible. If that means going to private shcool, then I will work to make it happen.

To be a part of Soleil’s growth, I make sacrifices, the same sacrifices that many parents choose; keeping that camera another year, buying a lesser version of a car, eating out less often, etc. Most importantly, I sacrifice my time. I stay up late and wake up early to work, so I can spend more time with her. I know spending time with Soleil on education dramatically improves her learning process, and increases her chances of a prosperous life.

Many families don’t have access to the education resources that I do, nor do they have the knowledge to learn with their children. Because of cost and the deterioration of the country’s educations system, I feel very strongly that NCFL’s work is necessary.

If you’d like to help me or the more than a dozen individuals fundraising during the #NCFLBigGive, here are two easy actions:

1) It may seem obvious, but if you can’t fundraise the best way to help us make our goal is to donate to my personal fundraiser on November 1 or before. Even $50 makes a big difference as we try to attain $25,000.

2) Participate in the #NCFLBigGive Thunderclap. Hundreds of people will blast out a timed Tweet on November 1 to launch the Big Give. Just sign up here and Thunderclap will take care of the rest.

How do you handle access to phones, TVs and other forms of screen-based media with your children?

P.S. Though NCFL is my client, fundraising is not part of my scope of work. I architected the big give, but also decided to fundraise because I believe in the cause.

Welcoming Home Michelle

About three months ago I was reading a book to Soleil that revolved around two siblings. About 2/3 of the way through, Soleil asked me who her brother was.

It was a profound moment. I’m 99 percent sure she’ll never have one given our 40 something status, and the difficulties we experienced having Soleil. She will be an only child.

One thing I have learned over the past year or so is that toddlers and geriatric pets are not a great mix. Our two cats, 18 and 16 respectively, and Junior (an 11 year old pug who may as well be a cat) just don’t have much play in them anymore.

Caitlin and I started discussing the matter. We felt Soleil needed someone more youthful to play with at home, especially given that Daddy “the play guy” is at work during the business week. A slow three month search began for our new dog, someone a little younger who would enjoy Soleil’s attention.

We began working with Homeward Trails, a local rescue organization, which happened to come in second place for most donors during Give to the Max Day. As the GM of that $2 million giving event, I was thrilled to work with this local community rescue.

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At one of their local dog rescue events in Arlington, I walked into the pen. Michelle, an American Fox Hound/Beagle mix, came right up to me. She was as sweet as could be.

We went to a private stall, and introduced her to Soleil. The two got along famously, playing catch, and Michelle tolerating Soleil’s incessant hugging of all things furry. A match was made, and three weeks ago we brought Michelle home.

Things have been awesome, though Mom and Dad are adjusting to a two-year old dog with lots of energy. Michelle is a real dog, unlike Junior, who will counter surf and even consumed a whole loaf of bread. But she is still as sweet as could be. Bonus miles: Because Michelle is a real dog, she actually barks when strangers come to the door, a new thing for us.

Most importantly, Soleil has a playmate now. Michelle will trot around the kitchen table while Soleil chases her, and will sleep with the little girl sometimes. Michelle tolerates Soleil’s rough and tumble nature to a much higher degree than the older pets, who simply run away from her. And yes, we’re actively working with Soleil on respecting animals.

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With the dog comes the poop.

Our third rescue experience has been awesome. There are so many animals out there that need homes. While we considered getting a bred Labradoodle, this seemed to be the more mindful path for our house.

Soleil has her sibling now, and you can hear many more sounds of little feet going pitter patter throughout the house.

Do you have pets? How did you find them?

Awakening from Delusions of Grandeur

is the ego a window to the soul
Image by alshepmcr

It’s a strange world we live in online. Delusions of grandeur call, singing like that sweet Siren in the midst of the sea. To win, we must appear like we are Doing Important Things, but in the end we find our lives dashed on the rocks.

I’m speaking about the competitive rat race to see who can get the most social media rock star badges; keynotes, books, followings, awards, blog mentions, yeah!

I have to admit, I got caught up in this hooplah again during the past year. Then I looked at my real life (the one I physically walk around in), and my toddler clinging to my pants leg crying every time I moved to the door, afraid that she wouldn’t see me again for days.

Well, when that happens it’s time to reevaluate what matters.

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