If your kids are anything like my kids, you may go through a lot of the day answering the “can we have screen time now?” question…
My kids will end lunch let’s say, then spend approximately 1.8 seconds realizing they are bored, then immediately ask if they can have screen time. Or walking home from school they may even walk in the door before I get to the bottom of the driveway, then yell out the door “Mom, can we have screen time now??” “No!” It’s literally like they are incapable of being bored!!
When you are a working parent trying to balance time between meetings it is hard not to give in to screens. I mean you may want the kids distracted so that you can actually sound smart, like being able to finish entire sentences during your meeting! If you work nights, it’s hard not to give in to screens so that you can at least get an hour to nap! When you’re a stay at home mom it’s hard not to give in to screens because you are desperate for at least 10 minutes of some kind of “peace and quiet” from the kids.
It’s so hard not to give in to the ongoing constant demands for the “screen” drug that kids “NEED” so desperately!! It seems there is nothing that can offer the same “high” that screen time can!
It helps if you literally have NOTHING else to do – like no house chores, no social commitments, no work commitments, and no dreams or goals for your own life…Then you can focus all of your energy on entertaining the kids doing a whole bunch of crafts or group activities with them! Ya, right!?
Since you probably do clean your house from time to time or have personal goals or things you want to do through the day and maybe some of those other commitments like social or work, then it’s hard to find energy to entertain your kids all day long! Spending every moment with your kids to keep them occupied enough to prevent them from asking for screen time is really not worth it! Also, kids SHOULD be able to, once in a while at least, actually play by themselves or come up with things to do with each other!
When the kids were small, I used to play A LOT with them, creating games, or scavenger hunts around the house, playing make believe games like playing with pretend food, or coming up with new make-believe games. It was hard. I even did some prep work just to have the day go smoothly…. well…as smooth as smooth can be with kids I suppose! My point is, that sometimes certain kids need a game plan.
Fight back against the boredom and screen time by giving the kids a list of things to do in order to get some screen time (ensure it has any expectations that you have for your kids!) If you want them to put away their own laundry, use screen time as their motivator! Or if you want them to clean their rooms, use screen time to your advantage!
The other amazing benefit of kids working for their screen time? Remember how you are a working mom and need to be on the phone or video for a meeting…now they are working, then playing! Boom! Uninterrupted meeting time! Remember how you need to have a nap so that you can work nights…now they are working, then playing! Boom! Uninterrupted nap time! Remember how you are a stay at home mom and you just want some sort of semblance of peace and quiet…now they are working, then playing! Boom! You may even have time for a coffee!!! It buys a bit more time! Gives you a bit more peace no matter what you are doing!
My kids have been tough to motivate at different times when it comes to cleaning up after themselves. They are super enthusiastic about making a mess but getting them to clean it up can be a bigger fight than I want to have, sometimes! BUT, if I say, “hey let’s spend a bit of time cleaning up then you can have 30 minutes of screen time”, it is like I just actually lit fire under their butts! It’s not always magical, but when it is, it’s amazing!
I think there was a movie once where someone was trying to teach someone about history or something. They said it was easy to teach anyone anything, you just gotta put it in terms that the learner knows. The kids know screen time, they love screen time, they ‘NEED’ screen time! So make them work for it! Like money – you gotta work hard to get the things you love!
These days kids could do with a bunch of lessons in working hard for what they want!
This strategy could work for anyone. If you feel yourself getting bored do you reach for your phone? Often even as parents we strugfle to keep ourselves away from the enticing glow of our devices. If you default to grabbing your phone find something small to do first. Or if you really want to watch netflix, why not tell yourself to first clean the table, or tidy the bedroom then give yourself the freedom to enjoy your show!
Time to put the kids down…as they ask for one more short video! “No way! It’s bedtime!”