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RACHAEL FOSTER: Summer break brings the Joy of Xbox

So, the five-week summer break is upon us parents.. no school arrghhh!

I have five children of varying ages, two of which are boys age 9 and 13.

It is  inevitable that the Xbox will play a main part in occupying these pubescent boys, who like to hide away in their pits upstairs, not engaging with the real world and ploughing their mind and energy into mindless gaming.

You can probably tell I am not a fan but all their friends ‘play’ these black cubes of delight. I try and limit game play fairly and after protests, I do actually manage to drag them out for the odd ‘fun’ family day trip.

The arguments this expensive black box can cause between them is second to none! Not only does it turn them into crazed psychotic killing machines, it generates a language from my boys that I’ve never heard before – not swearing I may add – but a large amount of ‘street talk’. Maybe if this street talk was taught at school instead of French and Spanish, my sons would ace their language tests.


Anyway, due to my house lay out the wifi has problems performing at a level that is acceptable for the boys (cue: teenage tantrums). This is something called ‘ping’; the higher the ping the more ‘lagging’ occurs which means they cannot play the game properly, it slows down and glitches, usually during an “awesome head shot” (sigh) and said child then gets angry, loses his ‘kill’ and obviously this is all MY fault for having a rubbish house where the wifi signal upstairs is poor.

The ping upstairs is at 1000+ which is not good, so I have made the drastic decision to bring the Xbox to one of the TVs downstairs.. GOD HELP ME!! Now the ‘ping’ is on average about 30, so this has dramatically reduced the shouting, frustration and stress they previously suffered upstairs (stress.. at their age, over a game.. hmmm?).

The moving of this black box has several negatives and positives:

  • I can easily monitor how long for and who is on the box
  • I actually get to see the boys ( before it was room hibernation)
  • I can hear/listen to who they are talking to and monitor the language used
  • I can actually watch and see the games that take over their lives… (maybe learn a little about them?.. nah.. who am I kidding- not my thing, I’m a 40y old mum)
  • My two toddlers totally love all the music and dances that ‘Fortnite’ (the most recent game that has taken the xbox world by storm) has to offer, so I request these are put on when I’m trying to prepare tea as it relieves my legs of constant grabbing and little people demanding to ‘help mummy cut up raw chicken’ – don’t think so girls!!
  • I don’t have a lounge anymore – its a gaming room. When one boy is playing, you can be sure the other is somewhere in the room lurking, watching every move his sibling makes. One wrong action and all hell breaks loose. As they share one account, all stats are collateral, see my point. They do actually verbally ‘help’ each other at times though to avoid cyber death, so I guess that’s a positive (about the only time they do actually get on and support each other)
  • Seeing their facial expressions during intense concentration is highly amusing. I must try and take a photo, then I can bribe them to help me when l ask for something or I’ll put the photos on social media!
  • Batteries (for the wireless controllers). These have been going missing out of toddler toys, remote controls and my lights. Last night I came downstairs for a nappy, (for my baby not myself, although after five kids my bladder control isn’t what it used to be), anyway, I find my 13-year-old going through the toy box with a screwdriver in his hand.This may sound like a case for a psychological referral, but it was simply just a hunt for more AAs. He then began asking where the second TV controller as “there are some in there mum”. My reply:“You and your bro can do some flipping chores tomorrow and earn some money to buy your own and to also replace all the others too”
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So as I write, its 10am and neither Xbox addict has emerged from their pits upstairs and I know why…. because there are no batteries left anywhere. Little do they know I have a stash hidden under the sink for such occasions). I will use these this morning as bribery for things I want doing (tidy bedroom & laundry etc).

  • Rachael Foster is a single mum to five children and lives in Netherfield. You can read her popular parenting blog at:

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