How to Cut Screen Time with No Whining!
How We Dramatically Cut Our Screen Time This Summer
When my husband and I started having kids, we weren’t concerned with how to cut screen time. Our oldest son knew how to swipe my smartphone as a one-year-old. We always had the TV on as background noise if we were in the house, playing. My husband and I both played video games in our spare time. Our kids picked up on it, and we didn’t see a problem with how our kids were handling their screen time…at first.
Eli, our oldest, especially loves video games. Have you read The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively?(Affiliate Link) We love that book and try to use it to spend quality time with our kids. If you ask Eli what his “love language” is, he’ll tell you it’s “time spent playing video games together”. Spoiler alert, that’s not technically one of the 5 love languages! Video Games did help him learn to read quickly (hello motivation) and it was great one on one time with dad. There were a lot of positives about screen time that really had us pushing off the idea of limiting screen time at first.
Our second child, Olive, really has no attachment to screen time. She would choose to play barbies with a friend over watching a show and will craft for hours on end.
The funny thing is, we gave them the same exposure to screen time growing up, they just simply have different personalities. One is drawn to the screen and will spend all day on them if given the chance, and one will flutter on and off them with not a care in the world when they are turned off.
We Came to a Breaking Point
At first, we tried limiting the screen time to certain hours. The kids could wake up and use the screens until 10am (they usually woke up at 7). The screens were off limits until 4pm, then they were free to use the screens until bedtime (at 7:30pm).
That’s 6+ hours of available screen time! Our daughter almost never used it up, but our son would be on THE ENTIRE TIME. In fact, he would count down the minutes until that 4pm screen time, not doing anything except staring at the clock. He would wake up early to get more screen time in! We came to our breaking point and decided there needed to be a change; it was time to cut screen time.
Our New Plan to Cut Screen Time
We headed into the Summer of 2017 with a new plan!
1. The kids are allowed 1 hour of free screen time, no matter what. We think screen time can be important in moderation. Our kids need to decompress and have alone time, and screen time is helpful for them in that way some days. We decided as parents, we would not take away this hour no matter what.
2. If they complete a set of tasks, they can earn 1 hour of EXTRA screen time. We ask them to read, play outside, be creative, and help out around the house.
3. They CAN lose their earned screen time if they are not respectful and kind.
4. They manage their own timer. We use this timer, and it’s kept on the fridge. I love that both of their timers are in the same place, so they don’t get lost as easily. (Picture is Affiliate Link)
If they don’t manage it well, they will lose their earned screen time. Obviously, this is only if your kids are old enough to manage it themselves. But even if you have littles, they should still be responsible for listening for the end signal and turning off the beep!
Success! How You Can Get the Free Printable
So far it has been an amazing transformation! We went from 6+ hours of screen time to 2 hours at most. Eli doesn’t even try to earn his extra hour some days, and he no longer stares at the clock waiting for his screen time to come back. Olive has also benefited by learning more about time management and cleaning up after herself. I’m so happy they are both closer to having a better relationship with the screens, and have benefited in countless ways with all of their extra time! They both learned to ride their bikes without training wheels within the first week of our new plan, they’ve been more imaginative, creative, and responsible. I’m not complaining about the extra help around the house, either!
I’d love to send you a free copy of How to Earn Extra Screen Time! I made a colorful version that’s great for laminating or putting in a pretty frame. Also included is a simpler, more printer-friendly version, that could be printed off every day as a checklist, or just to save on printer ink. You get both when you subscribe, to use as best fits your family.
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