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Screen time… I have sort of a love/hate relationship with it. On one hand, it’s a nice break once in a while. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to raise my kids in a low-tech way.
But, screen time, and the ability to use a computer and tablet are part of everyday life anymore. It’s assumed that your child will know how to utilize a computer, a tablet and at a fairly young age.
After all, most school systems are utilizing these technologies in their everyday educational strategies from preschool on. And while I don’t necessarily agree with it… that’s another story for another day.
And as a mom, especially a homeschool mom, it can be hard to find a good balance. Screens aren’t all bad. We didn’t throw the TV out. We have a healthy amount of technology in our home. I’m an online entrepreneur after all. I don’t hate screens. But I wanted a balance.
I simply wanted to set some boundaries to fulfill my desire to raise them more low tech and teach them how to responsibly use screens. I wanted to inspire their imaginations to run wild, to allow them to look at the wonderful world around them, to build social skills and to be… bored.
We could all do with a little boredom now and then. Boredom is where our imaginations and creativity blossom.
Since we have began being more intentional about our screen time and limiting its use I’ve noticed some amazing positive changes in my kids:
- They argue less and play together better.
- They are less cranky and irritable.
- They’re more creative and imaginative. They make up games and truly engage in their play.
- We have more time together as a family to play.
- They enjoy and appreciate nature more and have a love for learning more about the world around them.
- They’re more social.
- We have less whining and bargaining because the boundaries are firm and clear.
- They sleep better.
- More time is spent reading and learning.
- More time is spent outdoors being active.
How to Limit Screen Time
1. Get Clear on Your Why
I never really thought about why I was turning to screen time or why I truly wanted to get away from it until I sat down and got honest with myself. I was turning to screen time because of its ease and I wanted to get away from it because I wanted my children to be able to experience their childhood and I personally feel that they cannot do that while glued to a screen.
2. Do a Detox
It doesn’t have to be long, but I strongly suggest a screen detox. The whole family should be a part of this. No screens for a set period of time and stand firm. It’s so easy for one episode to turn into two or three.
We went with a week. This was just long enough that we found a new normal and it was easier to find the balance once we brought the screens back into our lives.
3. Make a Plan
Don’t just do this on a whim. I tried that. It was an epic fail. You need to have a plan. I wrote down activities we could resort to if necessary (only had to use any of these ideas once).
I decided how to deal with the awful evening time when all hell breaks loose, I’m ready to hide in the closet with a bottle of wine and some chocolate and the kids are in awful moods whining about everything under the sun. We used music for this….
Just decide how you’re going to handle any meltdowns, help your kids figure out something to do when all they seem to want to do is whine and complain that they’re bored. Figure out how you’re going to take a moment when mom life gets hard and you want to just turn on the TV so you don’t have to deal with whatever it is. You’ve got to be firm and stay strong. You will get through this, you just need a plan.
4. Let Them be Bored
Boredom inspires creativity and imagination! There is absolutely nothing wrong with being bored and it won’t be long before they figure out a way to fill their time. Are you going to have to spend more time with them during this transition phase to help them along? Sure! But, that’s part of the fun in it.
I give my kids plenty of options with open ended toys and if they continually complain that they’re bored, I’ll list those options. But, more often than not, they fill their time up all on their own even if it includes me engaging in play with them (which, is completely ok with me!).
5. Get Outside
The outdoors… I love it. It’s so refreshing. It puts everyone in a better mood and just as quickly as they got bored… they aren’t bored anymore. Kids today don’t spend near enough time outside, in fact, prisoners are guaranteed more time outside than the average American child receives.
I love just going out back (since we live in the middle of nowhere) and letting them play on the swing set, or dig in the sand, or play in the kiddie pool. They make things out of sticks and mud and explore the world around them and I get a nice moment of fresh air. It’s a win-win.
6. Clear the Clutter
What’s clutter have to do with screen time? Everything. When our kids are faced with too many options, the easy answer is the screen. It’s entertaining, it doesn’t require any real thought process, and it gets them out of the overwhelm of trying to pick a toy.
Ditching clutter was a game changer for me. Not just toys, but all of the clutter. It makes our home happier, more peaceful, and it makes me a better mom because I’m not constantly nagging them to pick stuff up or cleaning up messes. No one wants to be overwhelmed with choices… have them help!
7. Implement Routines
What were we going to do all day without the TV and tablets?? Agghh….. Be unproductive and mope around because we didn’t know what to do? Nope. I set up routines and let me tell you… life is so much easier now!
And so much more productive. We have a routine and we get a lot more accomplished that needs accomplished and then we wind up with more time to spend together doing fun things. The kids all know what to expect from day to day and I’m not running around trying to figure out what to do next.
Is it an exact science? Is it perfect? No… there are days that no matter what I do, nothing goes as planned. That’s life. But routines definitely help us stay a lot more focused and we typically wind up with a lot more time to spend together.
Limiting screen time doesn’t have to be scary, though it can seem that way. It just takes a little planning and confidence from mama to get it done. You’ve got this. I hope you’re inspired to limit the screens. We typically average about 4 hours a week when we were averaging about 4 hours a day. So, it’s been a big change. But, I love it and it was worth the struggle to get there.
Do you limit screen time for your family?
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