Summer and Screen Time
Summer is coming and I bet if you are a mom, you are dreading the, "can we play video games" question that seems to come all day when school gets out. I haven't eliminated it completely but I have found a way to make it predictable plus it doesn't mean I'm entertaining them all day so they don't ask this same question over and over. I don't know about you but I don't believe every summer day should be planned, filled with activities and require that I'm keeping my kids happy all day.
That's the beauty of summer, right! It means more relaxed days, schedules being more loose and spontaneous fun. So while I'm not saying that summer camps, scheduled extra curriculars and activities are out; I'm just saying some days are meant to be wild and free. With some kids that means they are going to want to watch TV, play video games and get on pads or phones all day. Sometimes they do just need a day to indulge here and there with some freedom but most days I have found that implementing these simple directions for the day leads to a summer with less screen time and begging.
Goals and Screen Time
It's simple. They have a set of goals to accomplish before they can even get on screens and then a set amount of time most days to have access. So basically they decide when they are getting their goals accomplished, and when they want to utilize their set time.
You will have to come up with your own goals based on the ages of your children, family and home goals. I will tell you what we do but that does not mean it will fit your family.
Before you can get on screens of any kind you must:
Make Your Bed
Clean Up Your Room
Serve in the Home
Serve Someone Else
Get 30 Minutes of Movement
Get Outside (weather permitting)
Then they have 1-2 hours depending on the day to utilize screens. You can set a timer if that helps your child get off peacefully when time is up. Also, when my kids don't get off nicely; they loose time on their next chance to get on.
This does not include family movie night or TV time or watching some TV in the morning when they wake up. It is summer time and they finally don't have to get ready for school. The other exception I usually make is when friends come over and they all want to play together. I find that the more strict I am about it, the more they focus on it.
Once they get in the groove, they won't ask anymore. They will just start working on their goals and decide what that looks like for them. This obviously depends on the age of your kids. I have found this to work best with 5 and up. Before that they need more role modeling, directed activities, free play time to explore and honestly just to be told no.
Summer and Free Play
I don't believe in having to entertain my kids all day. This may be unpopular opinion but more and more I'm seeing kids with summers completely scheduled out. They don't seem to know how to be bored or what to do when they are bored. They don't seem to spend time reading and enjoying their passions with freedom. They have forgotten how to explore and learn something new. There is a lot of guilt put on moms to do it all; manage the house, get food on the table and take care of entertaining the kids. Free play is very important for children and there is even research to back this up. Many studies have shown that playing is crucial for learning and processing daily experiences. Pick quality over quantity and you will see it go a a long way. I usually can tell when my kids need this time with me. Each kid is different so you will have to watch for this in your own child.
One last note, screens are a privilege in our home. There is no reason they have to get on them. I use this to help them learn how to be responsible for their behavior with them.
What about you? What tips do you have on this? What works in your home?