Those calm, quiet, and peaceful moments are hard to come by when you’ve got little ones and even not-so-little ones. Sometimes we just need time to think.  Or time to shop without constant interruption and pestering little voices asking you to buy that sugary cereal. Letting our kids have screen time can just make our hectic lives a bit easier.

Just Want to Get Something Done

It’s just easier to hand over your phone or your tablet and let the kids watch a video, play a game, or just be easily distracted, just so you can GET SOMETHING DONE FOR ONCE without interruption. In the short term, it feels like an easy solution. But in the long term what are we doing? What are the consequences of using screen time to entertain our kids?

The Downside of Screen Time

Although screen time is entertaining, kids need to learn to entertain themselves, use their imaginations, calm themselves, self-soothe, and turn to a myriad of other options. They will never learn that if they only turn to screen time.

Create Rules About Screen Time  

Children crave structure.  It gives them a feeling of security:

  • Set an example. Be the role model. If you’re constantly on your phone or tablet, your kids will mirror your behavior.
  • Set a timer while kids are on a screen. We all know how all-consuming screen time can be. Next thing you know you’ve been on your computer for hours. Screen time can suck the day away before you know it.
  • No tablets or phones or videos in the car. Some of the best conversations can happen in the car- either between you and your child or between your kids and their friends.
  • No phones at meal times. Meal times are times for families to connect.
  • Don’t use screen time as a punishment or a reward.

 

What to Do Instead of Screen Time

Make it a habit to require your kids to get busy doing anything else.

  • Get them involved in cooking with you. It can be as simple as Pillsbury cookie dough or as involved as helping cook dinner for the family. If you’ve got a baby, place your baby in the bouncy chair and talk about everything you’re doing while you’re cooking.
  • Read with or to them. Instead of a Kindle book, grab a real live book.
  • Take them for a walk or a bike ride.
  • While grocery shopping, if you’ve got children who can read, send them down the aisles to find items on your list for you.
  • Ask them to plan a dinner.
  • Art is always a great alternative. Drawing, painting, coloring.
  • Go to a park and let them play and burn up some energy.
  • Build a fort in your living room. Drape sheets over furniture and let the imaginations run wild.
  • Play with Play-doh
  • Spending 30 minutes a day in their room on their own resting, reading, playing to learn to like being in a quiet place.
  • Inviting a friend over – I always found this the best time to get anything done. It was easier to have a friend to keep my kids occupied.

Structure and Routine

Structure and a regular routine make kids feel safe and secure. Having a home life that is predictable gives kids a feeling of physical and emotional safety.  You’ll have to find what works for you and your family and, in the long term, you’ll be glad you did.