Once the lazy days of summer have arrived along with their lack of routine and schedule- it is easy to allow your kids morning hour of relaxing in front of the television morph into a second hour in front of the computer and a third hour playing video games….. and the next thing you know, lunch time has rolled around and no one has done anything except stare at a screen all morning! So exactly how is a Mom supposed to support her kids desire for some “time off” while not allowing them to become electronics-induced zombies? Here’s some strategies that we have used during the summer months at our house….
1. Set screen-free hours
Setting the expectation is half the battle- because once you have stated “the rules” and perhaps even outlined the consequences for not following those rules- the rest comes down to enforcement! At our house we tell the kids that the hours between 9am-5pm are “screen-free” hours (for the kids anyway!), and should they decide to ignore the house rules, they will lose the ability to use electronics the next time the opportunity exists. Of course, I do remind my kids a few minutes before 9am that we are heading into “off-limits” time…. and usually I will get an eye roll or a small complaint, but then they do turn it off.
2. Have some anchor activities for the morning and afternoon
While I do expect my kids to play with each other and “make up their own fun” during the summer, I also make sure to plan some sort of activity for both the morning and afternoon each day. I’ll announce the plans to the kids at breakfast so that they can look forward to whatever it is that we are going to do. And when I say “plans”…. it could be something as simple as a board game or a book to read together, or something more elaborate such as a cool craft or a family outing. Having a game plan for each day helps to guard against the “I’m so bored” complaints and helps to keep the kids engaged and away from the electronics!
3. Summer “homework” needs to be completed for the day prior to afternoon screen time!
Even if the clock is about to strike 5pm… my kids know that they still can’t park themselves in front of their iPod until after they’ve done their homework. Of course, since my kids will be using a web-based math program…. they might be more motivated to work on their math skills since it involves the computer! (And yes, this type of screen time can happen during the “off-hours”). The one exception to this “homework done before 5 rule” is reading for my kids that love to read and prefer to do it at bedtime. I love to read at bedtime too… and find that it is a much better way to wind down from your day than a rousing game of flashlight tag (although that’s pretty fun too!)
4. Know when to mix it up
At least once during the summer you are going to have one of those miserable grey days when it rains all day long. So every once in awhile, cave in and allow them have a “screen-free-for-all” day where they can watch movies all afternoon, play computer games, and watch silly you tube videos together…. and THEN do the math homework! This will show them that Mom can bend the rules once in while and make a day special (a trait that Dads tend to offer more than Moms!)
*This post was linked up to Organize and Decorate Everything!
What are your tips for limiting screen time during the long hot days of summer? Please leave a comment and share them!
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