After outside activities it was time to examine our inside activities. This too was difficult. When I broke my knee this past summer, movies and computer games (Internet usage) increased exponentially! Although I would say it wasn't out of control before the summer, it was certainly a big time waster.
Movie time was supposed to be reserved for Friday nights. But it is very, very, let me repeat....very clear that our family can not handle movie time. It has always, always, always gotten out of control. Always. Being laid up over the summer just made things worse. A lot worse. It always starts the same way. They are only watching 'godly movies', that then move on to morally acceptable movies, that then go to not blatantly sinful movies, to movies that are not in line with our family values.
So the movies got pulled. Netflix was cancelled. The only movies that they can watch now are the homesteading movies. We have some Christian movies, but I am not allowing those for now. They were too much in the habit of shutting off their brains to be lulled by the pictures on the screen. They didn't want to have to think. I am very serious when I say it was painful for many days/weeks. Literally painful. Think about it. They went from their brains passively taking in moving pictures and sound to having to physically move their bodies and actively thinking when it came to play time. Ouch. It was painful for me, in that there was a LOT of whining going on over here! Let me repeat....lots-o-whining. Thinking along the lines of addiction would do well here :-)
Now we've done the movie pulling thing before in the past. This time the difference is two fold. Number one, I have been put in charge of all movie viewing. This is good because I despise the waste of time that movies are. So this works for our family. Number two, we actually replaced movie time with other things. In the past we would tell them they needed to find something else to do. I can assure you that does not work. You have to actively replace that time. That does not mean you need to schedule their time or create all their play time, but it does mean you need to have a 'feast of ideas' set before them. For us, this meant we bought their Christmas presents early. We bought them a whole bunch of board games. We also made sure we had a healthy supply of books.
Books are nothing new to our family. We frequent the library often. Very often! But again, we needed to hold up those books and compare them to our family's goals. Did the content fit our goals, our beliefs? If not we needed to get rid of it. After getting rid of the movies, we went through our bookshelves. Not only were we rating a book compared to our convictions/morals/beliefs and goals, but also rating it against our educational philosophy. We love Charlotte Mason's word for junk food books, 'twaddle'. You know you have a problem with a book when your 14 year old will read 150+ pages *after* she's gone to bed. There is obviously not a whole lot of thinking going on with that book! Don't get me wrong, if you have a struggling reader you may want to slip in a few of the easier to digest books for free reading time, BUT it can all too easily become a crutch. Just like movies were turning off their brains, having a comic book or other easy read does nothing to stretch those brain muscles. Please don't misunderstand me, there isn't anything wrong with a silly book here or there, just like there isn't anything wrong with a piece of cake. But at some point too much cake is a bad thing.
To help us curb our former library habits we had to change things up. Our library has a website where we can go and reserve/put on hold any book in their system. We designate the branch we will be picking it up from. Then, when the book is ready, we get an email to say we can come pick up our book. This has been such a huge help to curb the poor reading choices we were facing. Every once in a while they are aloud to go look around the library when I have to go in, but I don't let them take any books out. Or I have them put the books in a pile. I then load everyone up in the van, I go back in the library by myself and sort through the books.
This too was a hard transition. I made up a list of acceptable books or types of books from the Ambleside lists. I was starting to doubt if we were making the right move, but before too long they started picking up the good books and reading them. And they have been pleasantly surprised at how good of a story it was :-) It's taking a bit longer for one of my reluctant readers, but I know she will come around.
This was hard on everyone, but especially Jedidiah. Oh, talk about withdrawls!! I thought he would never, never, NEVER get over it. It was that bad!! Every day, all day long he asked for his computer turn. But now, two months later, it's not an issue. The girls were, again at first, very upset to give up computer time. They each had a Webkinz, and favorite horses on their favorite horse game site that they didn't want to see 'die'. Well, it was either a slow death for their spiritual lives, and continued crumbling of our family or the death of a pretend virtual animal. Hmmm, that one wasn't too hard to think about. But making this a reality isn't as easy as it sounds. Between the afore mentioned movie time, twaddle books and computer games my kids didn't know what to do with themselves half the time! All these twaddle issues have the same root problem, and were remedied by the same solution. Redirecting their focus, or as the Maxwell's would put it, creating new appetites. This involved brain storming and really listening to what the girls interests are. This also means possibly moving furniture around and making those new appetites the focus in our house. For example, sewing is a big hit around here. We would like to set up a table out in the family room for the girls to be able to sew throughout the day. Moira expressed an interest in creating her own sewing patterns. So we looked up some books on how to do that. The girls have always been into arts and crafts. That means we will be looking for ways to increase our art supplies and fabric and yarn supplies.
We are two months into this and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see my children being productive, learning new skills and trying new things!! Seriously. Flannery has become chef extraordinaire over here. She also took off with sewing. Isabella has been sewing and crocheting up a storm. Moira has made many paintings, crocheted items and made a recipe from a cookbook for the first time on her own the other day. Saoirse is in the learning stages of all these things. Basically trying out each thing in small snippets as her abilities allow. The boys have been doing a ton of pretend play. This is a newer skill for Jedidiah, and it's great to see how it's growing each week. Lots more reading going on, with good books.
There are still some days when I will hear, "I'm bored." But that doesn't last long. It took a while for them all to 'wake up' their brains and start using them :-) It took sticking to our guns, going back to our goals and holding on with both hands! It can get rough, but the results are sooooo worth the fight. I dare say we are not done with the fight, but things are so much better now than they were.