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  • Writer's pictureWhitney G

5 MUST DO Things to Limit Screen Time This Summer

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

Now that school's out and the kids have so much more free time, the first thing they're going to do is reach for the screens. They'll be home asking us for a lot more, and let's face it...screens are THE BEST babysitter. They're free (once you own them), they're always there when you need them, and your kids will never get bored of them! Screens can be a WONDERFUL tool for education or supervised fun, but the reality is that too much time on devices can be very damaging for developing minds. So this summer, let's get the kids off the screens, and get them doing some other activities! Here are 5 MUST DO things if you want your kids to put down the screens and create some awesome memories with them this summer!

1. Agree on a Schedule

While I really want to cut down on the screen time, I am not a monster, okay! I do allow my kids more screen time in the summer than they get during the school year, but there have to be rules in place. I let them "help" make these rules. I came up with three options

that I was okay with, and let them choose which one they would prefer. You can come up with what works for you but mine were:

  1. 3 days for 2 hours a day

  2. 2 days for 3 hours a day

  3. 4 days for 1.5 hours a day

This helps with taking yourself out of the "bad guy" position that so many of us find ourselves in when it comes to setting limits with screen time. When they complain about not being able to play you can say..."I'm sorry, those are the days you picked." You can even go as far as printing them out and letting them decorate it, marking the days they're allowed to play and for how long. Put it on the fridge and use a magnet to keep track of what day it is. These are the ones I made and printed for them to doodle on.

The only screen time that causes a problem in our house is Roblox, so my examples are specific to that. Emery gets 4 hours a week and Cameron is allowed 6. Click one of the links below to download blank Roblox calendars of your own for you and your family!

Blank Red Roblox Calendar
Download • 45KB
Blank Pink Roblox Calendar
Download • 45KB

2. Set Up Consequences

Now, during the summer it's easy to lose track of time, or to know what day it is. I allow my little ones to ask me what day it is (so that they can check the calendar), but they ARE NOT allowed to ask me if they can have screen time. I don't know about you, but it's a huge pet peeve of mine to be re-asked questions that I've already answered or that they should already know the answer to. So, I set up consequences for asking. It may seem harsh, but I'm telling you, for your peace of mind this IS necessary!

I like to take a similar approach to setting up the schedule when coming up with consequences. Ask them! "What do you think the consequence should be for asking for more screen time, when we have already agreed on a schedule?" Once they come up with something you all agree on, you can write it at the bottom of the schedule as a reminder...or not. Believe me they'll catch on quickly if you stick to your guns.

** We agreed on 30 minutes taken off of your next screen time

3. Create a Boredom Bucket

This one is totally customizable, but here is the general idea. You'll need popsicle sticks big enough to write on and a jar, cup, bucket, or anything that will hold the popsicle sticks (nothing see through though). Separate the sticks however you like, and write on the ends. You can write chores, fun activities they can do on their own, and/or activities to do with a parent. When they say they're bored (and they will if you're limiting screens) they can draw from the bucket.

If you have children that are far apart in age, they won't be able to do the same chores or be interested in the same activities, so keep that in mind when writing on your sticks. To solve this you can make separate jars, or you can color each side (of the same end) on the popsicle sticks and assign each child a color. For us, Cameron is blue and Emery is pink. This way, they can both draw from the same bucket, and look to see what their color says.

We use the bucket to hold ourselves accountable to spend time with the kids too, so we have a bucket of 36 sticks; 12 of them are activities with a parent, 12 are chores, and 12 are individual activities.

4. Make Sure They Have Other Options

It's not realistic to have your kids home all summer and not give them anything to do, then take the screens away on top of that. It's not productive for them, and ultimately they'll drive you NUTS! You have to give them something to do so they aren't constantly thinking about the fact that they can't be on a device, and have an attitude about it.

You can make up challenges between siblings, like who can read the most books over the summer, and offer up a sweet reward! You can give them fitness/sports challenges like seeing who can make the farthest shot, or improve time/distance on a run. Maybe you can set up coloring kits that they can access on their own. I like having word searches, puzzles, board games, and "how to draw" books around the house. Having a trampoline, a tree swing, and a kiddie pool/ sprinkler will encourage your kiddos to get outside on those beautiful summer days.

5. Check yourself

Monkey see, Monkey do. We can't yell at the kids to put their screens down from behind our screen! Many of us work from home or have some type of commitment that requires us to be on a device. I understand that, but I am talking about the EXTRA time. The Instagram scrolling, the Facebook stalking, Tik Toking or whatever else it is that you're doing on that thing.

Do what you have to do in order to separate yourself from your screen so that you can enjoy some quality time with your babies this summer! When have you ever said, "man, I regret playing that card game with the kids" or "I really wish we wouldn't have went on that family walk;" I'm guessing...never! We need, and enjoy, that time with our kids just like they need/enjoy it with us. The pull of social media or texting can steal us away from that, and we have to check ourselves. There are apps that can help you track and limit your screen time, or maybe you could just set certain hours of the day where you put it away and are available to your kids.

This summer my husband and I invested in Apple watches. The purpose was so that after we have our initial morning phone check, we can leave our phones upstairs, but still be reachable. Yes, they're pricey but for us, it was a way to check ourselves, a way to become a little less attached to that phone. It was an investment in our relationship with our kids...and one another (but that's another post). If you are able, I think it's worth a try, we love it!

Let's help set our kids up for success. Parenting is just like anything else, if you want to do a good job you have to prepare, and you have to make yourself a little uncomfortable. I know it's not easy, and it requires a lot of time to get a system set up but I promise you that it will be worth it. Summer is just beginning and its a WONDERFUL time to lay down some ground rules. Your children may moan and groan at first, but I've learned that kids really do thrive when there's structure. Set it up! Enjoy a summer with less screens and more quality time!

Just my thoughts,

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