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Mama, is having your kids at home all day leading to way more kids screen time than you feel comfortable with?
I get it. I have been guilty on more than one occasion of turning on the television so I could have a quick shower, only to realize two hours later that it is still on.
And I thought about whether I should get rid of the television completely so that it wouldn’t be a crutch.
But the truth is that it doesn’t happen every day.
And I want it to be there for those times that I want to curl up to watch an episode of The Pioneer Woman or let the kids have a movie night.
So I created some guidelines for my kids’ screen time.
And as long as we stick to these, we are able to enjoy television as a convenience and a treat without turning the kids into screen zombies.
Here are 5 ways to reduce your kids’ screen time, starting today!
1. Don’t let the kids turn on the TV (or tablet, laptop or any other device) without asking.
Since we don’t have cable, and the only apps available on our TV through Roku are safe and appropriate for our kids to watch, it was easy to fall into the habit of allowing my daughter to turn on the television without asking.
But inappropriate content is not the only reason to limit screen time, so this didn’t make sense.
Now the kids know that they have to get permission before watching anything.
2. Only watch with a purpose.
We no longer turn on the TV just to “see what’s on” because, honestly, that’s just a reaction to boredom.
And it leads to spending time aimlessly wandering through options and arguments among the kids about what to watch.
Instead, we only turn on the television to watch something specific or for a specific amount of time.
For example, my daughter may ask to watch an episode of Pinkalicious on PBS Kids.
Then, as soon as it is over, the TV goes off.
We also may agree to screen time for a certain time period, such as while I give my toddler a bath or make a phone call. The same rule applies to my tablet.
The kids can ask to use a specific app and only for a certain amount of time.
3. Do not be preoccupied when the kids are using screens.
If I don’t remind my kids that it’s time to shut off the TV or tablet, more likely than not they will just keep on watching until I do.
So unless they are watching while I am on a phone call or something else that has a definite end point, I make sure that I am not distracted during their screen time.
To do this I make sure that I am not doing anything that has the potential to suck me into a time warp, like browsing Pinterest or Facebook.
Otherwise, time can get away from me and I will become frustrated with myself as well as the kids.
4. Never make exceptions.
Our kids learn our weaknesses very quickly.
So if we have rules that we want to enforce we really can’t ever break them.
My kids have learned, that whatever else my faults as a parent may be, I don’t give in.
Once I have said no, the answer is no.
If you do the same when it come to screen time guidelines, chances are that they will give up begging for you to bend the rules pretty quickly.
5. Find other activities to babysit them.
A lot of my kids’ TV time has been the result of the fact that I needed some peace or quiet time to get something done without them being up my butt.
And this is fine sometimes.
But if you are a stay-at-home mom, there are going to be many times that you have to figure out a way to get something done without the kids’ involvement.
And if you are trying to reduce your kids’ screen time, then you really need to have other options to turn to when you need their attention focused on something other than you for a few minutes.
Take some time to think of a few activities that your kids really enjoy and that they can do independently.
Then set some of these aside to be used only when you specifically allow.
That will make these activities especially appealing.
And your kids will be able to focus on them for longer periods of time than they would if they had access to them all of the time.
Watercolor paints, Play-Doh and Wikki Stix all work great for my family.
Get started! Ditch the habit!
You definitely have your work cut out for you as a homeschool mama trying to reduce your kids’ screen time.
Because they are home with you way more than most kids are at home.
But if you feel called to reduce the amount of time that your kids are spending watching TV and using other devices, you can definitely do it.
Start by having a conversation with your husband to get him on board.
Then talk to the kids, and explain that they are no longer allowed to watch without asking.
And make sure that they understand the answer will not always be yes.
Then get to work setting aside some special activities for them to do during those times that you do need to have them focused on something.
What are the other activities that you think your kids will respond to?
I would love to hear in the comments!