Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to share the family computer -- husband out if now, not of his choosing

Dear Dr. Jim

I sure do need your help. My wife hogs the computer here, and if she lets it loose the kids grab hold.

We can't afford two so mostly I am in the lurch. Once in a while I call in sick so that I can get on the computer during the day.

Other times I throw a fit (it would be a tantrum if I were a kid) about it and they all feel guilty. So then I may get to use it a little until they settle down and start begging with me for THEIR computer.

I really am missing my computer games and visiting with my FaceBook friends.

Please help me, Dr. Jim,

Andy in Andersonville, Arkansas

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Dear Andy (really AAA, huh?)

Well now, you have gotten yourself into a mess, haven't you.

Really now, we could see this coming since you are all bound to just the one computer. Unfortunately you have drawn the short straw and are pretty much left out of the rotation.

Our solution is to get you back into the rotation. You must call a family conference and ANNOUNCE that you also need some prime time computer time.

It would help if Mrs. Andy will support you in this. You can ANNOUNCE to her as well but things will go a lot easier for all if she approves ahead of time.

Here is what you do:

1. Divide the evening hours that you all have into 30-minute segments on a piece of paper. Keep in mind that some of the children may have earlier bed times than others and than you adults.

2. Have everyone write their preferences in time for all the slots, from one (1) to as many as you have in common.

3. Start at square number one and write the names of those who want this early time. Mrs. Andy may not want these early ones if she is going to prepare supper. THIS MAY BE THE TIME WHEN YOU SHARE--FROM HERE ON--IN THE PREPARATION OF MEALS to give her some prime time for reading her e-mails and the like.

4. In a hat, place the name token (that you have made for each) for those desiring this time. If possible let someone who has not wanted this time to draw. The name drawn will get the time.

5. Leave the name just drawn out and put in anyone else whose token is not in from the last drawing. Remove any one's who does not want this time. Let a person who is not in the hat draw. The person who won the last drawing would be good for this.

6. Repeat the process until all slots have names assigned. Easy way to do this, cross out everyone except the winner where they first wrote. You could have a fresh schedule but this leads to problems of one's word against the other about mistakes.

7. Put the all the name tokens back into the hat when it becomes empty. Watch that the distribution of times is equal until the kids start going to bed.

8. Repeat steps 5, 6, and 7 for all the days of the week. Weekends may be on hold until everyone's weekend schedule of activities is firmed up.

Some notes:
It will be obvious that the ones with later bedtimes get more time. Make sure that those with early bed times get their share until they go to bed.

You might want to start a family kitty for another computer. Put in everyone's spare change or a portion of it. Add an assessment of a portion of jobs and allowances, sort of like an income tax. You could have a lawn sale or do all sorts of things to get money.

I did not mention the kid's homework. Give compensation time for when they are not in the drawing because of homework. If some of the homework is to be done on the computer a priority can be had for this. You should watch over to keep them honest (part of their family training) to be doing only homework.

You and Mrs. Andy can each stop in briefly at the library if you pass near one so that you can get e-mail. You probably won't have time to answer, this can be done in your computing time.

A lot of people are doing the previously mentioned e-mail checking at computers at their work. Most firms don't care if privileges are not abused as this activity on company time and resources improves moral.

Hope this has helped you out of your problem, it really was/is a family problem.

Dr. Jim

A Colombo: I purposely referenced the AAA in my greeting because my idea for the solution to the computer time situation is similar to the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) approach to problem drinking.

And you, staying home from work just to play and use the computer. Talk about addictions, you need to think about this one. Dr. Jim

So, keep on keep'n on, and till then,
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