The Battle of the Screens
Okay so we’ve talked about goals for our summer and how to make a plan, but Valerie THE SCREENS! THE WHINNING! THE FIGHTS AND SQUABBLES!!
I know this is even more overwhelming than the idea of summer planning.
I could launch into a soap box of the affects of screens on our kids, but I think I start by telling you the screen dynamic in my household growing up, first.
I grew up without a gaming system in my home, and my parents didn’t even get a computer until I was in middle school or high school. I know I’m aging myself here, but it was an Apple 486, and the only ‘games’ on it were Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, and Duke Nukem.
My husband is a gamer. He had all the gaming systems of the 90’s and is still an avid gamer today.
We come from two different worlds, and if I wanted to keep my husband around (I usually do), I knew there would be video games in our house. So, we had to establish what we wanted screen time to look like in our household. Part of me is shocked that my husband agrees that less screen time is best.
Set the Time
A couple weeks back we talked about Our Summer Goals as a Parent, and how knowing your goal can help shape how you plan your summers and family time. The same is true for Screen Time. To keep with my goal of creativity and seeing God’s beauty I have to stand firm in limiting the amount of screen time and the types of games my kids play.
During the summer my kiddos are allowed two 20-minute screen times during the day. Once at 9am and again at 2PM. And believe me my kids watch the clock for better or worse. The only time they can have more is when they are wanting to do something creative (which is in line with my goal), like make a LEGO movie or attempt to be like Dude Perfect.
Have To, Before Want To
Okay we’ve established when Screen time is, but how do we get then to do anything but ask us what time it is?
I found an amazing printable over at ThirtyHandmadeDays that helps my sanity during the summer or any break from school. Before that 10am or 2pm time comes all the things listed have to be done. Three of those activities combined take an hour, which usually fill our morning, since I have early risers in my home. Not to mention the creativity that is bursting forth from my kiddos from the moment their feet hit the ground, which makes the morning routine harder to work through from time to time.
This list also gives me a reference point when my kids come to me with a boredom ‘problem’.
There are many ideas out there of how to structure how screen time fits into your day, but this one has been the simplest. Cause it’s my summer too, and I don’t want another thing to keep track of.
Turn it off!
Alright here’s where the rubber meets the road.
Albeit 30 minutes isn’t a lot of time, so how do we get them to turn them off when times up. I wish I had a magic method that made my kids automatically turn screens off when the time is up with a smile on their face.
Truthfully, I feel this is something that is constantly evolving at our house. We’ve done counting and the number I count till it’s turned off is the number of minutes of screen time you loose next. We’ve done loose all screen time the next day, we’ve done added chores, and many others. What seems to be working currently and with the most success is me or my husband pushing the off buttons.
This sounds extreme, but let me explain. When their time has five minutes remaining, I walk over and get eye contact (very important!!) and say “you have five minutes. Now is the time to finish what you’re doing and save. Don’t start anything new.” Then they get a one-minute warning, before I start collecting devices. Only if they refuse to give me the device are consequences enforced.
Whatever your tactic is the key things is to stick with it. Hold the line and be firm. Self-regulation is not in a kid’s wheelhouse naturally. So, if you’re going to draw a line in the sand you have to keep it.
Since kids are natural explorers, there is not much we need to do, except turn those screens off. Don’t look at me like I’m asking you to jump in the artic ocean in your swim suit. I’m not crazy. It can be done.
Screen time is a battle. It is a battle worth fighting, because you are fighting for your kiddos’ childhood. Limits on screen time can be a dividing factor among your kid’s friends as well. I know it has been for mine. But I have to hold firm to what I believe is best for my kiddos and the goals and values I’ve set as a parent.
Here is a FREE Discussion Guide of my Five Tips for Setting Screen Time Boundaries for you and your kids. Make screen time a constant discussion between you and your kids as they grow. Consider it Peace talks to avoid future battles. The more they feel a part of the discussion the less battles there will be.