Okay, let’s be real. I am not a mom who doesn’t allow any screen time for my children. In fact, I depend on it to keep going and completing things off my check list of the day. I’m perfectly aware that little to no screen time is recommended for toddlers, but let’s face it. From the hours of 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, I need the 30-60 minutes where my kids are glued to the TV in order to take a quick shower or prepare a meal.
But this past couple of weeks, during the holidays, my husband was home for some time off and we’ve had a terrible winter so far, with freezing temperatures, resulting in few outings. And on these days, where we are stuck inside all day long, the hours are long and move very, very slowly. As much as I’m tempted to turn on the TV for my kids, my husband is completely against it and sticks by his rule of one hour per day.
Well, for the past few days we have implemented this rule, and I was surprised to learn a few things…
- We can survive all day with zero screen time…if we try.
When I read articles about the dangers of unhealthy amounts of screen times, and how a child’s addiction to screens is comparable to a heroin addiction, my first thought is: God screen time is awful, but I could never survive without it. Being a SAHM [Stay-at-home-mother] I find myself sinking into the hours at home with toddlers who seem to need stimulation or activity all. day. long. I think to myself, I couldn’t possibly go everyday without any screen time. But it isn’t true. I learned this over the break, that with some effort and belief that it can be done, anything is possible.
- The kids will be upset, let them be…then let them get over it.
So every morning, like clockwork, my kids ask to turn on the TV. When they’re bored, they ask for the TV. And any other chance they get, they will ask for it, because we’re usually in the family room, and it’s in the center of the room, so it’s kind of hard to avoid. And as soon as I say No, it’s not TV time, they whine, and cry and plea. And I think that’s what I’m avoiding every time I decide to give in. Well over the break, my husband was with me, which gave me a boost of confidence and so we stuck to it. Yes the kids got upset, but then after allowing them their whining while we stood firm, they sort of forgot about it and got distracted with something else. The key is enforcing the rule, repeating it and solidarity. The kids will be upset, but not forever.
- You do have to get creative and get involved. Nothing would make me happier than to see my kids peacefully playing by themselves while I did whatever chores I needed to get done for the day. But life isn’t a dream, and this is never a reality in my house. The good thing about the break was with my husband at home, I was able to pass off the kids for some time. I think we ignore the obvious, which is kids just want your full, undivided attention. So when we refuse them screen time, we have to step in and actually be with them in whatever alternate activity they choose, whether its playing, reading, or coloring. And over the break, I spent more time sitting with my kids, talking and playing and I noticed that they were in such a better mood because of it. Well whadya know, on days that we didn’t give screen time, they were actually happier! So what if we had to give a bit more time to them? Small price to pay in my opinion.
- Let your kids be bored, it’s good for them. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I’ll say it again. Letting your kids be bored is a wonderful way to spark their growth and imagination. I’m the type of person who cares too much about the other person getting bored, including my kids, resulting in always trying to keep them occupied with something…not exactly healthy. One thing I noticed over these past few days is that if I just let them be bored, my kids start to play in a more imaginative way. They make up stories or conversations with each other, they do more pretend play and I’m kind of amazed by it. So what I’ve stopped doing is rushing to finish what I’m doing, whether it be cooking or praying, and instead, I just let them hang around me while I go about whatever I’m doing. And they are just fine.
The holidays are a great time to just be there, be different, be involved and present. And I’m so glad that I got this time with my family to actually unwind, and be with my kids before they grow into a phase when they don’t need me as much anymore. I found that the more time I spent actually being with them, with little to zero screen time, they were happier and in better moods, and I even feel like I learned more about them. Of course, I will continue to give them their share of Paw Patrol episodes when the need arises, hopefully limiting it to one hour or less per day.
One last thing, when we talk about limiting screen time, let’s not forget about ourselves. It kills me when my kid is trying to tell me or my husband something and we don’t hear her the first couple of times because we’re on our phone. We all do it, we’re all guilty of it. And it’s definitely something I need to work on.
I found this article, titled “Screen-free Holiday Challenge“and it just solidified everything I said in this post, and I hope that some of you try it out!
How do you feel about screen time and what’s a good amount in your opinion? Please do share your comments, I love reading them!