Summer Break and Screen Time June 26, 2017

Hello again! Lars’ Mom here. If your kiddos are anything like mine, they want more screen time – more time playing video games and  watching YouTube videos now that they have hours of free time during summer break.  Whether you work or you have all day with your kids, keeping them engaged in ‘productive’ activities all day can sometimes be a challenge during summer break. Am I right?

I can work from pretty much anywhere I can hop onto the Internet. I split my time working from home and from our warehouse. The kids split their time between tagging along with me and with a part-time sitter. Honestly, the days where I have them with me at the warehouse are the biggest challenge. They have their own space, but it is indoors with four windowless walls. My least favorite thing to hear them say is (you know it’s coming), “I’m bored.”

I can set them up with games, crafts, reading, you name it, but those words will ultimately slip out once they get an inkling for playing on the console. I get a lump in my throat as soon as I hear those two dreaded words. How, I wonder, how in the world can you be bored?

What I’ve come to realize is that this is a new kind of boredom. It’s not one where they truly have nothing to do but to stare at their hands in an empty room. It’s one where the activity they have is not the one they want. They want that ‘plugged in’ endorphin rush.

Whether they are with me or the sitter, I insist that they minimize their screen time. When it’s summer in Northeast Ohio, you get your behind outside and enjoy the weather!

We only get a handful of truly warm summer months here and these kids are not about to sit inside with iPads and consoles all day long. (Let’s not even get into the discussion about how it’s unhealthy for the developing brain and can throw sleep cycles out of whack by spending too much time in front of a screen at such a young age.)

Do my kids grumble at me for timing their screen time? You bet they do! I don’t care. There are times for me to be their friend and there are times for me to be their mom. Screen time is one of the things I firmly guide them on doing (or not in this case). I am FAR from perfect. I’ve had my days where I’ve been busy and it’s the sitter’s day off and the chaos took over my life and screen time was off the chart for the day.

If that happens, don’t fret! When you catch your breath, disconnect. Enjoy the time from here forward and don’t punish yourself. Why ruin the free time with your kids with the mental dragging of yourself through broken glass? Like Elsa says, “Let it go. Let it go!”

I am no saint when it comes to timing their screen time either. It takes effort and planning. Honestly, it would be easier to plug and unplug the television. So, here’s my secret…

I rely on apps and egg timers. I set the alarm in my phone and a timer for the kids. This way, no matter if I’m working from my den or out filming in my garden, the kids and I both get notified. Our family prefers to use the Microsoft parental controls feature to monitor Lars’ game time. If you use Microsoft, then you  access it through your Microsoft account online control section.

This also sends a weekly email report to Chris. We are a predominantly windows and Xbox family, so this system works well for us. The only thing it doesn’t keep tabs on is iPad time.

For a household with a lot of technology, I am pretty basic when it comes to timing screen time. Speaking of screen time, someone’s timer just went off! Time to chase my little monkeys back outside.

What are some of your methods for controlling screen time during summer break? Leave a comment and let us know!