The first order of business this New Year is to limit my screen time and that of my kids. Let me paint you a picture of why we are limiting screen time in our family.
I’m 34 weeks pregnant and find myself somewhere between waddling and crawling my way through these last few weeks. With this being my third pregnancy, I’m bigger, more tired, and crankier than usual. Despite being on medication, I’ve been morning sick more days than not. And on those days, it’s more typical for me to get sick multiple times than just once. I’ve heard parents say countless times, you know you’re done having kids when you just know. Well folks, I know. I know. With this being my third baby, there are obviously two little beings under my care. My kids are fifteen months apart. And because they’re close in age always in each other’s space. On top of it, they’re as vocal and spirited as the day is long. This mama wants rest. So, I’ve been defaulting to screen time way too much.
My kids get the iPad in the morning so I can get an extra hour of sleep. When my son comes home from preschool, he watches a couple of shows. When my daughter comes home from full-day kindergarten we watch another couple shows. Let’s be frank. We’ve let it get out of hand.
Then came Christmas. It’s as if my interest in my phone and computer completely tapered and so did my kids. The result was pretty amazing. We were present with each other having fun, playing, baking, doing chores together, and cuddling on the couch. As such, I want to come up with a game plan for when they go back to school. We will be limiting screen time there is no doubt. I asked parents when they know it’s time to cut back on screen time and what they do when that time comes. Here is what they (and I) said.
Limiting Screen Time: Signs it’s time to cut back
Did you know, experts say children under three should have no screen time? None. While that may not be realistic, the reason is that even educational programs have been shown to limit, not develop, young children. For the older crowd, a limited amount of screen time is okay. Though research is saying that all children are partaking in too much, they’re overstimulated, lack self-regulation, more aggressive, show a higher incidence of obesity and are being misdiagnosed with mood disorders and ADHD. While these are long-term effects, below parents share signs it’s time to limit screen time in their own household.
Signs Children Need Their Screen Time Limited
- My kids ask for it at times we normally don’t watch TV.
- They get agitated when I ask them to turn off the TV or iPad.
- There is an increase in sibling rivalry and acts of aggression.
- When my child overreacts to me answering, “No” to screen time, I know it’s time to cut back. – Susie, mom of two, Twitchetts
- When my child gets a bit obsessive over shows and pays no attention when we speak to her, we know we need to scale back. – Jesse, dad of one
Signs Parents Need to Cut Back on their own Phone and TV Time
- When I am less communicative, can’t sleep well, am more irritable and less happy, I know it’s time to forget my phone or comet
- I think a good indicator my husband and I are getting too involved with screens is when one of us snaps at the kids because we’re trying to focus on work on the computer or a message on our phone or a TV show. – Tessa, mom of two, Homemade Experience
- A while ago, I noticed my youngest daughter became more aggressive, frustrated, and well…just not as happy… I observed her constantly going after my phone. Then, it was like a lightbulb went on when I realised, hmmm maybe I should put my phone away. – Kristen Hewitt, mom of two, Mommy in Sports
- When I start getting annoyed and overwhelmed with how many messages and notifications I receive on my phone, I know it’s time to put it away. Also, when my husband kindly points out that my face is stuffed in my phone, I realise this too. – Sue Parke, mom of one, sueparke.com
Limiting Screen Time: How to be successful at cutting back
My best way to cut back is to have a game plan for my day. I’m a work from home mom so the average day can feel monotonous. Also, if I have a deadline, I can get consumed in my computer screen. By actually planning when I will work and not work, when the kids will be allowed to watch shows, and setting a timer, I am more successful at limiting screen time.
Here are some of the ideas I use to ensure we don’t default to screen time to get through the day:
- Get out of the house. Whether it’s to a park after school, to a recreation centre, kids’ museum or even, dare I say it, the McDonald’s play place, getting out means I’m less prone to using devices or TV shows to preoccupy me or the kids.
- Plan really simple kids activities at home. My simplest ideas include:
- Creating lines the kids are to cover using stickers,
- Filling a pot with water and making a “pool” for their toys;
- And, giving them paint, tape, glue, and glitter to decorate and construct with items from our recycling.
- Bring out old toys. By rotating toys, old ones become new and exciting very easily.
- Play board games, bake, do puzzles, read, and/or build together. Playing toys isn’t always my favourite thing to do. I find working on something together is much more my style.
- To read more VERY basic ideas, click here.
- Be okay with your kids being bored. Unstructured time gives children the chance to understand more about themselves and the world around them. They have the space to try out new ideas, use their imaginations and explore in their own ways. This free time also creates time to invest into passions, such as hobbies, crafts, sports, or another form of unstructured play. Read more here.
Here are other parents tips on limiting screen time:
- We set times to be done working on the computer. Also, we leave phones in another room. And, we DVR shows to watch so we can watch them after the kids have gone to bed instead of while the whole family’s awake. – Tessa, mom of two, Homemade Experience
- I find it helpful to put my phone in a different room on silent and forget it about it for a while. – Sue Parke, mom of one, sueparke.com
- I put my phone away after school from 3:00-7:00 pm, but sometimes the girls tell me to put my phone away other times! – Kristen Hewitt, mom of two, Mommy in Sports
- We let our daughter have one hour of “fun” screen time a day. She gets to choose how she uses it, whether it’s TV or computer. Exceptions are made for homework, Facetime and family movie time. – Amanda, mom of one
I hope this post helped you when limiting screen time in your own family.
Do you have tips or suggestions that were missed? Please share below <3