Carver at one end...
My boys stood at their stations for the better part of an hour just blasting each other. I wish I had a sound clip of Z's hysterical laughter. It was too funny. The water gun idea was so geared toward boys, as not one girl would go near them. Lily grew tired of having no one to play with and sulked on her towel. Exhibit A:
Keeping 3 kids busy (but not too busy) and entertained (but not too entertained) and challenged (but not frustrated) over the summer is a delicate balance. My kids are old enough now, though, that we can work on systems and charts and incentives. That goes a long way. For the summer, we've instituted the ticket system. You can buy huge rolls of red carnival type tickets at office supply stores, so we dropped $7 for a big roll. Each child gets 20 tickets at the beginning of the week. Each ticket is worth 1/2 hour of screen time (tv or computer). That averages out to an hour a day, plus some extra on the weekend for morning cartoons or a movie. Ahhh, but here's the fun part! They can lose tickets based on bad choices. They can earn more tickets by doing extra chores or reading for 30 minutes. For Carver, he can earn a ticket for extra schoolwork he completes. (There is one particular area he needs lots of practice, still.)
We're not battling the television so much as trying to teach our kids delayed gratification, budgeting skills, and consequences for rotten behavior. TV and computer are great! Lily's favorite website is Animal Planet where she can learn about science and endangered species, for pete's sake. But I do want my kids to learn that screen time is a privilege--not a right. And they can earn it or lose it. I'll let you know how it works.