11 May
Mouthy Housewife in iPod Meltdown: Please Help

So by now I’m sure you’ve heard. The Mouthy Housewives are two years-old! And since we toil away, day in and day out, helping you with your problems, we thought it was about time for you to return the favor. And boy do we have issues. Marinka is desperately trying to forget a birthday and Wendi has a french kissing dog on her hands. But enough about those lovely ladies, let’s talk about ME.

Dear Mouthy Housewife Readers,

I used to have two lovely creative girls (age 6 and 4) who could spend hours immersed in imaginary games and creative play. Then we thought it might be fun to put a few games on their iPod. Now they constantly squabble over the iPod and they are obsessed with Angry Birds.

Now for all I know one of my children may make millions someday using a slingshot to launch birds at pigs. So I would hate to stifle any blossoming talent. But, if by chance, that is not the case, I need some help putting time limits/restrictions on this thing.   It’s very hard to oversee the use of the iPod because when I tell my kids to “go upstairs and get dressed,” they hear, “play Angry Birds   in your bedroom until you hear me yelling as I stomp up the stairs.”

Should I delete the games completely and leave only the music? Or is there a way to limit their screen time?


Kelcey, TMH


21 Responses to “Mouthy Housewife in iPod Meltdown: Please Help”


Comment by Ju.

Dear Kelcey,

Just take the bloody thing away from them until they behave and do what you say. You have a powerful tool in that you can take it away, don’t waste that…. see the possibilities!



Comment by annie.

Get them the Alice programming software for kids then sit back and watch the money roll in.

Why have kids if you can’t put them to work early and live off them?


Comment by Plano Mom.

A very common threat in my household:

“I will make you learn about my childhood before video games and cell phones.”


Comment by boobies4killian.

mine are only allowed to have their video games in the car. If they are playing them in the house they become mine for a day. And i play them, yes i do! Right in front of them, while yelling things like, “yes high score! Finally got it!” and “ooohhh betcha you never got this far. This level is soooo cool!” a little torture goes a long way.

Lisa Reply:

Niiiiice. I like your style. 🙂

boobies4killian Reply:

eh, i try. Lol


Comment by Karin.

If I find my kids playing games (DS, iPod, electronic yatzee) or reading a book (I know, I’m mean) before they are ready to go, it’s gone for 24 hours (which really means that it’s gone until they get home from school the next day). I don’t give warnings. If I have to say “do X morning task” more than once, they loose something.

This also applies in the afternoon when they are supposed to be doing their homework. We have a system – come home, get a snack, tell me about your day, relax until the clock says 3:10 for one child, 4:50 for the other (they go to different schools so get home at different times – yes, it is a headache), do homework, play.

I also charge 10 cents per item if they leave stuff in the living room – shoes, clothes, jackets, toys, cups, papers, homework, pens, pencils, markers, crayons or glue stick (and associated caps – talk about a waste of money!) – I don’t care what it is, if I have to pick it up after they go to bed, it costs 10 cents. I keep a tally on a whiteboard on the back of the door – just so you don’t think I’m all negative, there’s a positive tally there too for doing extra chores (50 cents for emptying the dishwasher, 25 cents for a laundry run (clean basket up, basket and dirty laundry down), $1 for each level vacuumed, $2 weekly for a tidy bedroom)!

Karin Reply:

oh, and we don’t watch any tv during the school week so yes, you can limit screen time. IN the summer, they get one chore per day (beyond personal hygiene) that needs to be done before they can do anything “fun” like watch tv, play games or play outside. Any lip and screens are gone for the day.

as for sharing, if someone doesn’t want to give up the game and they can’t resolve it themselves, I set a timer for 5 minutes and then the current person’s turn is done and the next child has 5 minutes.


Comment by Megan.

We have a point system. My son earns points for chores and getting As in school.

An hour of TV = 5 points
An hour of any video game = 5 points

If he’s caught playing when he should be getting ready, studying, etc., the device is taken away and he can buy it back with points later. The number of points is at my discretion and directly proportional to how much he pissed me off.

Mom Again Reply:

I like the unpredictability of this. A bit of structured unfairness is crucial in good parenting.


Comment by Bean.

Am I the only parent whose kids don’t have any electronic games? Seriously. Take them away and play outside. Extra bonus is super-tired kids who fall asleep fast at night.


Comment by dusty earth mother.

We use the kitchen oven timer for screen time and TV time. When it buzzes, it’s over and hey, it’s not my fault! It’s the stupid buzzer’s fault!


Comment by Marinka, TMH.

I was addicted to Angry Birds for 48 terrifying hours. I got rid of it. I’m now cured.


Comment by Issa.

I have a no iTouch in the mornings and until homework is done rule. Just make times when they can have it and times when it’s off limits. Also? I so take it away first thing when they miss-behave. It’s the first punishment. ha.


Comment by MommyTime.

I set a timer and make them trade the thing. I also set strict rules about when it’s not allowed or allowed. ipod is allowed in the car, while waiting for another family member to finish his/her doctor’s appointment/skating lesson/soccer game/ballet class/other boring thing that forces me to sit in this dull place with nothing to do, and as a treat on rainy weekends when we can’t play outside. Otherwise: go outside, or go do something that’s “good for your brains.”


Comment by Heather.

My oldest boy became obsessed with video games around age 4. I wasn’t ridiculously restrictive nor followed complicated reward/punishment system. I did something radical and used (prepare yourself, Kelcey!) common sense to monitor his time.

FYI – this fall that now 10-year-old is going to learn how to build and program robots. Just sayin’…

FYI – the younger son would be a complete video game JUNKIE if I didn’t set the timer for him and force him to play outside. He’s not learning robotics this fall. Just sayin’….

(No, I don’t know what I’m saying.)


Comment by Rosemary.

My oldest has Asperger’s Syndrome. In my house, any device with a screen – TV, Wii, iPod, computer, DS – is a powerful motivational tool … and also closely monitored. I allow each of my 3 kids exactly 30 minutes of screen time a day, by kitchen timer, with extra time for special occasions. Like Fridays at dinner, when I’m exhausted, so I let them have a picnic in front of the TV.

In the summer or on school holidays, they can earn an extra 30 minutes by doing 30 minutes of chores above and beyond their normal duties as my minions.

I’m also a night owl in a house with 3 morning person kids. The weekend rule is that anything that produces bickering and wakes me up before my alarm goes off is toast. So far they’ve lost the Wii and computer. Forever. They’re highly motivated to keep what’s left.


Comment by MommyTime.

I mostly do Heather’s approach, as in “you’ve had enough time now; go do something else” and “this is making the two of you fight, so now it’s mine; go do something else.” But I thought of one other thing: we sometimes dole out bonus time in proportion to other good things you’ve done: so if you spend an hour reading, you can have an extra bit of screen time. Also, all screens count: TV, game devices, computer, so if you want to play Wii with your friend when he comes over in four hours, you’d better do something else now.

Karin Reply:

an hour reading is totally not something that earns bonus points in this house- I have a house full of bookworms including my non-reading 4 year old who will look at books and make up stories or tell me what he has memorized!


Comment by Lisa.

“It’s very hard to oversee the use of the iPod because when I tell my kids to “go upstairs and get dressed,” they hear, “play Angry Birds in your bedroom until you hear me yelling as I stomp up the stairs.””

Huh? An ipod is easiest thing to control because of its size. You hold onto it and hand it to them for the half an hour they are allowed to play with it and then you take it back.

I think any school age is pretty young to have unfettered access to electronics but 6 & 4? Way too young. Even a teenager would have to prove she’s responsible enough to handle it on her own.


Comment by Ace.

I’m not a mom. I’m someone who hopes to be mom in the future, but currently is just some lady standing in line at the grocery store, listening to some lady in front of her bitching into a cell phone about how her husband didn’t pay the credit card bill, and the guy behind her in line is telling his buddy ALL about the girl he was with last night. For the sake of a sane society, take the electronics away forever and ever until they are old enough to buy them and pay the bills themselves. Or that’s my plan for my poor, poor, nerdy future kids.

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