It’s July already! Has summer boredom set in with your children yet? This short video came across my feed recently and it inspired me to write this blog post all about managing screen time. It’s easy to revert to extra screen time, especially with the kids home all summer and when you’ve reached your limit on how much sibling bickering you can handle.
We all know that too much screen time is bad for your children, but how much is too much?
In our home our children are allowed more screen time in the summer than during the school year but we still stick to fairly strict limits. I love hearing about how others handle this hot topic so thought I’d start up a conversation about it by sharing our experience. Make sure to comment below with what you’ve found to work in your family!
We’ve tried numerous “systems” for managing screen time but the following is what has been working well for our family lately. Our children are allowed two 30 minute turns a day with their choice of a game console or tablet. During the school year this is only on the weekends at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. They get no video game time on weekdays during the school year whatsoever. During the summertime they have to earn their weekday turns. They have a different schedule in the summer and as a result they get no screen time in the morning. The first chance at any screen time they get is in the afternoon but they must first complete their chores (more on that later) and do some school work in order to earn it. This chart explains the “school” portion.
I broke up the skills they need to work on by day knowing that if I gave them the option between reading, writing and math they’d choose reading every time and we’d like them to improve all these skills. I made Monday the day they would work on writing thinking they’d have a story or two from the weekend they could write about. My kids love to read so Tuesdays and Thursdays are easy. Wednesdays are for practicing (with each other) on math facts, especially multiplication. Fridays are free choice unless I declare otherwise. If they complete all of their chores and their “school work” they earn their first 30 minute turn. They have to play outside for at least one hour to earn their second turn and this turn must be group play (not individual), otherwise the t.v. is on too long.
The above applies to our younger three kids. Hunter is 14 years old and a great writer, reader and mathematician so we have different rules for him. He certainly could improve his skills in all three subjects (couldn’t we all?) but we decided to incorporate regular exercise in his routine in lieu of the school work this summer. He reads on his own regularly without prompting so we knew this wouldn’t be a problem. He is required to do his chores and exercise at least 30 minutes every day as well as shower in order to earn his screen time in the morning. The rest is the same. He has chosen to run daily.
We do not stockpile missed turns. In other words, if they miss a turn because they’re off having fun doing something else they don’t get to “make up that turn” the next day. For example, if one of them is attending a friend’s birthday party during the 4 p.m. screen time turn they just lose that turn. Birthday parties are better than screen time anyway. I also purposely plan afternoon fun away from the home (museum visits, water parks, nature hikes) so they oftentimes miss that second turn because (and I tell them this all the time) I care about their brains and having fun with them this summer is high on my priority list too. My children’s moods are happier with less screen time and I’ve noticed they actually get along better so I’m always looking for ways to reduce it.
When I’ve spoken about these rules with other moms in the area the first question I get is what chores do we require of our children? I’ve included our current chore chart in case you have that question too. This changes a little bit by season. Greyson is 7 years old, Tyler and Brody are 10 and Hunter is 14. We do not pay our children to do these chores. Hunter is also required to mow the lawn but he gets a small allowance for that.
So there you have it! I am definitely not claiming to be any kind of expert on this topic. I’m simply wanting to share what has worked for us in case it helps you too. I’d love to hear what you do in your household so comment below! There’s always room for improvement.
Looking for other tips to get you through the summer? This post I wrote a while back may help: JCP Parenting Hacks: 5 Steps to Summer Sanity.
Julie Collins Photography is an Oconomowoc Family Photographer located in beautiful Lake Country, WI who loves capturing true emotions and candid moments that help tell the story of the families she works with.
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