When it comes to kids and screen time I promise you every mother is guilty. I mean unless they just don’t have electronics in their home at all. It’s inevitable in this day an age. I mean at the end of last year’s school year every kid was doing virtual and on tablets or computers. There were even cases where the school assigned them to students that didn’t have access to them. It’s just the age we live in where technology is part of our everyday life.
But if you are like me and like to have some type of limit to the amount of screen time your children have, then you are in the right place! I’m married to a gamer and I work from my phone. Some you can bet you will find us having daily screen time. This also means that our kids also get screen time. Just not alllllll day long and I want to share how we keep our screen time intentional with our children by sharing 5 tips below. So let’s get to them.
If you have electronics in your home, then your children will at some point ask to play on them. Even if it’s just your smartphone. One thing I’ve learned from children is that when they are “bored” they tend to ask for it more often. Even if they are fake bored just to try and trick you into letting them play. So I suggest keeping boredom buster-type things around. These can be simple things the keep your kids occupied when they seem to be wondering around “bored”.
Some of the things we keep around for thee moments are:
- Craft bins (random craft supplier for free play)
- Coloring books
- I spy books
- Nuggets Fort builders + stepping stones
- Explorer items (notebook, compass, magnifying glass, etc)
- Sensory bins
- Board games
You could do anything that your kids love that aren’t kept with their every day toys
Let batteries die
This is my “oldest trick in the book” and works like a charm. We don’t keep old phones or tablets charged at all times. They spend more time with a fully dead battery than they do charge. So when our children ask to play on them. It’s easier to not give in when it won’t turn on from a dead battery. This makes it impossible for us to just say yes as parents. We have to actually charge them for our kids to play on them.
Our “TV” is ran through a game system which in turn also always has dead batteries. So we have to charge the controllers to even use our tv to watch cartoons or shows. Double win for the limited screen time.
Use as an incentive
One way we use screen time for our children is using it as an incentive or some type of reward. Our children know that they won’t be able to play on anything or watch anything unless all their toys or messes from previous play are picked up. Do they ask while there are messes everywhere. Of course! They are kids. But the moment we tell our kids they can play a game once they pick up their playroom. It goes down and that playroom looks pretty dang good in a short amount of time.
Or when it’s naptime for our baby. My kids usually get TV time during this as long as they are quiet and don’t wake him up. I have all boys so “quiet time” can be very rowdy.
Keep game play limited
When we do allow them to hop on tablets, games or watch TV. It’s very limited. We don’t set a timer or anything but it’s definitely not an all day long thing (at least when mom is monitoring it). They take turns and once the battery is dead game time is over. They know this and are very used to it and typically don’t get upset when it’s time over. If you need to set a timer then I definitely suggest that but be sure to explain it to your children so they know. This will help eliminate most meltdowns.
Encourage multiplayer options
Most of the time when our children are getting screen time it’s together. So we always encourage “multiplayer” options. This means they take turns picking a cartoon to watch or playing a game that they all can play on.
Like I said before I’m married to a gamer. So we have quiet a few gaming consoles and the majority of the games we own have more than one player option. So they get to play together and talk and complete things together. Which is a type of bonding in a way. It also teaches them how to share “online presence” even though they aren’t online. One day they will be and this is a way for them to learn game play/social courtesy. If they don’t want their stuff destroyed then don’t destroy someone else’s.
Now I am no where the queen of limiting screen time… at all! My husband and I see this differently and that’s okay. He’s allowed to do his way and I’m allowed to do mine. It’s the beautiful part of parenting from different perspectives. It also means our children ask dad more than they ask me and I’m perfectly okay with not being asked all day long to play games.
I hope this list was able to help you find ways you can be more intentional with the screen time you give your kids. And if you find yourself giving more than you’d like, give yourself grace. Sanity comes first and sometimes that is using a device of some sort to entertain your children. We’ve all been there and we all get it. So don’t judge yourself to harshly.
Until next time, live a life you love!