Really, you’re asking me to do WHAAAAAT?? Yes, we know setting screen time limits for your home can seem like a daunting task. In fact, it may even sound like crazy talk during this current Covid world. However, keeping a healthy balance in our homes is so important and even more so while we are in this socially isolating time.
It’s no secret that we live in a world where we are inundated with screens. The information age has filled our lives and homes with electronics around every corner. Yet, it is difficult to know exactly HOW to curb the habit of being in front of a screen all the time and reclaim life. AND even fewer people know where to start or how to help their children navigate through this media-drenched world we live in. So, this task of figuring out a healthy balance of screen time versus interacting with the ones we love is one of the most challenging practices in our culture today.
You’re probably thinking to yourself… tossing a device or a video game of some kind is the ONLY way for me to keep all the hair on my head right now! But stay with us here… Instead of a bunch of rules, or living on eggshells; lets talk about some real-world, practical, and creative things we can put into motion in our homes to provide some boundaries, and still keep it fun.
So, let’s break this down into a few simple ways that you can help to create that much needed balance into your home.
1) Make sure there is something else to do in place of being in front of a screen! We’re not saying you have to be an activity director for everyone, we are just saying be proactive.
• For kids between 2 – 8 years old – Have toys and activities in your home that encourage imaginative play. Puzzles, Legos, art supplies, pictionary, playdough, etc. Provide the alternative.
• For older kids 9 – 15 years old – Go to the library and get books on topics of interests, crafting, cook books, whatever will peak the interests of your family members. Thinking that YOUR kids won’t “do the library thing because that place is for nerds??” Just try it out, and let their imaginations run wild, and your return trip may be sooner than you think.
• Fun for the entire family – Prepare a “Something To Do” box. Fill it with age appropriate items that will be fun for them to do when they come to you with the famous “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do” moments. You can always check out the clearance section at your local craft store to see if they have any model cars, hand made crafts, paint by number, cross words, or similar items to fill up your box.
2) PLAY with your kids!!! Be intentional and involve yourself with the silly things they find fun
• Get on the floor and play dolls with your daughter
• Build an epic cardboard fort together
• Get out the ball or frisbee and head to the park
• Play card games together
• Make dinner of your child’s choice together
This may be the MOST IMPORTANT one on this list…
3) GET INVOLVED in your kids life. We can hear it now, “no kidding, get involved.” But what does that look like??
• Find out things like who their best friends are & why, what season is their favorite & why…
• Observe, LISTEN, ask questions and be intentional with conversation.
• Set time aside to spend one on one time with each family member.
4) Set MEDIA FREE times and places in your home. This one may be obvious, but cannot be left unsaid…
• Start small with something like dinnertime. Be sure everyone knows that it is a media free zone so you can engage in conversation and not have to battle cell phones during dinnertime. Pick one central place where phones can go – untouched – until dinnertime is over.
• Turning off screens at least an hour before bedtime. Not to mention, research shows that you will have a much better night rest if you are screen free for at least an hour before you go to bed! Plus, it gives you time to just talk with your child!
• Some other areas of the house that you may consider having a screen free zone is places like the bedrooms or bathrooms… after all… who REALLY needs to take your phone into the bathroom!
5) Set the EXAMPLE
• It’s one thing to say it and another to do it… So be a part of the solution and set a good example for our kids to follow.
There is really no way to sugar coat it, because as the parents – it is up to us to set the bar and guide through our actions.
Remember, we are NOT communicating that devices and their use is evil or wrong, but merely pointing towards a healthy management of the time spent on them that is the utmost importance.