Summer break is halfway over for my kids. After two weeks of summer break, my husband and I realized we needed a solid plan to reduce the amount of electronic/screen time our kids consumed. We came up with a plan, and it is a work in progress that appears to be helping.
Chores Before Electronics
Our kids are required to do chores. Some chores are routine and some chores earn them an allowance. With the need to establish a routine with electronics this summer, our kids were required to complete several chores before asking about electronics. We experienced immediate changes with the new plan. Our kids completed most of their tasks early in the morning leaving the rest of the day for other activities and some screen time.
Chores that our kids are required to complete before asking for screen time including making their beds, getting dressed, reading for 30 minutes, putting away clothes and checking to make sure the dog has food and water. Granted, our youngest two cannot read well on their own, but we ask them to look at the pictures. When we can, we sit down and read with them. It is also a good reminder for us to stop and read with our kids. There are many benefits to reading with your kids.
We also give our kids time limits on electronics. We have Google Home devices throughout our home, and we have trained our kids how to set timers on them. If we give our kids a time limit of 30 minutes, they typically set their own timer. Occasionally we have to remind our kids that the timer means to get off electronics. For the most part, our kids honor the timer.
Giving our kids a limit on electronic/screen time every day requires us to increase our tolerance. Our kids are typically louder and messier without electronics. When we are organized, we attempt to reserve electronic time for segments in the day when we need the kids to be quiet. times that we need electronic/screen time include the middle of the day, when we need to make calls or handle an appointment.
When we force them to occupy their time with other things, they typically make quite a mess. Our kids play games, craft, and pull out all the toys. While it is a pain to see the mess, we know our kids are learning to be creative without electronics. By the way, it is completely okay for our kids to be bored. Yes, their whining may be unbearable, but they will either suffer through the boredom or they will learn to find joy in things that do not involve electronics.
Finally, make a list of the things kids need to do to earn electronic/screen time. Our list is simple. We purchased a blank dry erase board that can be updated as we need it to change. The kids find joy in checking off chores and making their own notes.