Monday, May 25, 2015

weekend clashings

We have been struggling with our weekends off and on the past several months. Zach works long hours during the week, so often he only sees the boys for a few minutes in the morning, if at all, and gets home after they're already asleep. So weekends are his only time with the boys, and they with him. They're usually fairly excited about getting to have dad home. However, when Zach tries to get them to go to a park or do something outdoors with him, they sometimes drag their feet. This causes conflict, as the boys just want to be able to do what they want to do (often just play at home), and Zach (understandably) takes it as a personal insult that they don't want to spend time with him or do what he enjoys doing.

To add to this, we also have some conflict over video games. At least some of the time when the boys want to just stay home, it's because they want to play video games, which Zach is critical of. He has a harder time shaking off the idea of video games as a waste of time, or seeing the potential benefits of them. So when the boys reject his plans for the sake of games, it's like adding insult to injury.

I understand both of their points of view-- I see how my kids enjoy and get a lot out of playing games or watching tv, how they like having control over how they spend their time, and that sometimes they do just want to chill out at home instead of going out somewhere. I also see how much my boys get from playing video games (from just plain "they're fun" to problem-solving and practice with managing frustration, to opportunities and incentive for reading and math while, say, trying to figure out how many coins you need for your next upgrade). I also empathize with Zach, who doesn't get much time to be with the boys or be outside, and wants to do both not just to "kill two birds with one stone" so to speak, but also because he wants to instill in the boys a love of being outdoors, and is frustrated by seeing them push back.

I'm trying to figure out how to handle these conflicts in a way that respects everyone's needs and wants. I do want my kids to have plenty of free time where they choose what they want to do-- including play games. I also want them to spend time with their dad, and to be able to put aside what they may want for a moment for the sake of honoring someone else's wishes.

I love this concept of the sliver, but we're having a bit of a hard time figuring out how to put it into practice. Or I guess the bigger problem, really, is working out the timing. I mean, this past week the boys actually spent little time playing video games because we were busy with so many other things-- going to park days, gymnastics, painting miniatures, setting up blocks and minifigures and legos, etc. It just so happened that all these things happened during the week, and on the weekend when Zach is available and wanting to go do things was when they wanted to fit in their game time, instead (particularly since D found a new logic game on a math website and spent a lot of Saturday on that, then this morning got a new racing game on the ipad).

I think one solution may be for me to keep better track of what we do during the week, which I find useful for looking back on (when I do manage to do it), and also may help Zach see what we do during the week. It may also be important for Zach to plan time for him to outdoorsy things on his own, for his benefit, even if the boys aren't into it. Perhaps if they are invited vs ordered to go they will feel differently about it. Or maybe this is one of those roadblocks that will just resolve itself with time and patience.... we'll see.

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