Back-to-School – Video Game Management

With the kids headed back-to-school, it is a natural time to re-evaluate the Daily Family Schedule.  It is helpful to discuss the upcoming changes to the routine and even document them (in colorful markers of course!) for the kids.  In addition, transitions like this are a easy opportunities to work on areas of conflict – or triggers for stress.  For example, this summer’s biggest source of conflict and stress has been video game use by my 10 year-old son.  Limits are in place, but I am ready to admit those limits have proven ineffective and I would like to make some changes.  The idea is to set the environment for success.  To make a fresh start.  Here is what I did:

Defined My Goals

Limit Video Game use during school week.  My son has difficulty transitioning off the games and can get mouthy.  I did not want to be arguing with him in the morning before school, or have him get in the door after school and start right in.

Limit time spent working on the laptop when kids are home.  My virtual home office is a busy place, but needs limits.  By setting boundaries for myself, I am modeling this behavior for my family.  It also allows me to be more “in the moment” with them.

Encourage opportunities for down-time / hanging out.  Kids today are over-scheduled.  If we do not schedule in the down-time, it has a tendency to be absorbed.  It is important to their overall development for them to learn how to make creative use of their time!

Make homework a priority.  I do not hover over homework.  The kids are responsible for it.  In my opinion, it is my job to set the environment and be available for questions, comments, or concerns.

Created A Family Schedule


MORNING STUFF – Breakfast and Prepare for school

TV ok until: 7:15 for kid who rises circa 6:30 & leaves for bus @ 7:35.

TV ok until 8:15 for kid who rises circa 8:00 & leaves for bus @ 8:35 (about time for 1 episode of Sponge Bob!).

(This is what we did last year, but notice I wrote, “TV ok.”  There will not be video games before school, but I did not type, “NO VIDEO GAMES IN THE MORNING,” as I did not want to make it a negative.  I am setting the environment for success : )

AFTER SCHOOL STUFF – Snack, homework (computer use as needed), sports, prepare for religious ed.

Play / Hang-out / Family Activity

Screen-free (mom too)!

(This is NOT what we did last year, but notice I wrote, “Screen-free!”  I did not type, “NO TV OR VIDEO GAMES AFTER SCHOOL,” as I did not want to make it a negative.  I am setting the environment for success : )

EVENING STUFF – Dinner, sports, and/or religious ed.

TV and/or Video Games ok for an hour or so after 8:00pm (if homework is complete)

(Video games make their first appearance!  I have set the environment to reduce them.  They are now the carrot to dangle at the end of the day – an entertaining afterthought of sorts AFTER homework, family down-time, and other responsibilities.)


Bedtime – 9:00pm for Middle School Kid (my early bird)

Bedtime – 10:00pm for Elementary School Kid (my night owl)

These times are consistent with what we have done in the past.  Sleep is a priority and kids wake fresh and ready to face the day.  No changes needed!  Here’s to hoping the same holds true for the new Video Game routine : )

Do you allow tv/video games before school? 

Is screen use triggering conflict in YOUR home?

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4 comments on “Back-to-School – Video Game Management

  1. We ran into a problem because we said they could play video games when their homework was done. Then they were rushing to get the homework finished and sometimes “forgot” it! We had to go to no video games M-Th which has been painful, but there is no rushed homework or fighting to play!

  2. Oh, dear! I guess I double-teamed my son by adding the “after 8pm” restriction on top of the homework restriction 🙂 If I had more than one video game enthusiast I would probably restrict it to weekends too!

  3. Kellie

    I’m curious why you make the distiction is between video game time and tv time. I’ve always lumped them together as “screen time”. In our house, I would probably put video game time in the morning (it tends to rile them up more) and tv watching at night (a bit more relaxing). But that is just me. You are motivating me to think about the environment I want to try to create for success 🙂 Thanks!

  4. You make a great point, Kellie! It is about what works for you : ) I am making the distinction because, in our house, it is already there. There is an obsessive/competitive quality to the video gaming that I wanted to keep in check.

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