“Can I have your phone?”, “Can I watch telly?”, “Can I just very quickly borrow the iPad for seven hours?”. It’s questions like these, and numerous variations thereof, which can really grind you down. They’re sometimes the first words your child speaks in the morning, sometimes the last ones at night, and with them invariably comes a ripple effect that ends with you feeling powerless while they stare brainlessly at cartoons.
You see it all the time – in restaurants, cafes, at bus stops, in parks. In fact, throw a bouncy ball into any doctors waiting room and you’ll hit a least four broken parents, all self-consciously shame-faced as their little ones hunch over absorbed in their phones. What are they watching? Probably some insane Youtube nonsense. That’s not the point, the point is they’re becoming greedy screen-monsters and you need to show them who’s boss.
So, thank goodness for Mumtrepreneur Amanda Bucknall, who has galloped into view on a trusty stead, brandishing what might just be the answer to everyone’s woes: Time Tokens – A colourful set of vouchers that trick your children into believing that they’re the ones ultimately managing their viewing, not you.
It’s a fairly straightforward transaction – between you, you sign a “promise contract” agreeing precisely how much they can watch each day, then they use the tokens to buy screen-time, using the accompanying timer to ensure they catch up with the optimum amount of Peppa Pig, or Paw Patrol, or the one with the underwater cats.
Obviously, in some households, this is where the whole thing collapses. Toddlers aren’t especially known for their commitment to the truth, and won’t always honour their most solemn promises. But you know what? In a world where UP can be DOWN, and DOWN can be UP, it might be just the ticket.
Kirstie Allsop’s a fan.