Kids and Screen Time - The No-Guilt Edition
How can we do kids and screen time and not feel guilty? Originally, I was going to share all about the things you already know about screen time. That screen time is not good for kids. Kids spend way too much time on screens and it's contributing to the obesity epidemic. And all the things that you probably already know about screen time and children.
And I thought, Kristin, we're in the middle of a pandemic. All bets are off. So here's the thing. What I want to share with you is how to use screen time in a way that is not going to make you feel mom guilt. I'll share some tips and some tricks.
Here's the thing. You are going to have screen time. You're all stressed out to the nine. And you have way too much on your plates. The last thing that you need is to feel guilty if your kids are watching a little bit of TV.
Minimize continual screen time for kids
So what you can do is try to minimize continual screen time. There might be days when your child does not watch TV at all. And there are days that he/she will watch more TV than what you are probably comfortable with.
So how do you minimize continual screen time?
What you need to figure out is:
- What do you need TV to do?
- What is the purpose of putting your child in front of the TV? Maybe you want them to learn something, be entertained, get moving with music.
Once you know what the objective is for using screen time you can ask, "What can I do instead?"
What to do with kids instead of screen time
Here are some things you can do instead of screen time:
- Print out coloring pages and have them available to use when you need to focus on something and your child needs something to do
- Let your child use watercolors. Watercolors are something that you can do on normal paper.
- Legos or block
- Play Do
How to create excitement around toys to decrease screen time
When you need to focus on something to just get something done, you can pull out toys to entertain your kid.
Legos, blocks, cars, or any kind of toy that your child gets excited about will really work to keep them entertained. Find those toys that your kids get really excited and fired up about when you bring them out.
What I do is save those toys and only get them out when I need time to really be able to focus on something.
So think about what are the toys that really get your kid excited, especially when they don't see them for a little while. Think about what that is for your kid and how you can incorporate that in a strategic way. Your kid will really focus on it and be excited and play with it for a while.
What you do is take those toys when your kid is asleep. Get them out of the general play area so that when you take them out and tell them to play with this, it's a big deal. And it's a fun thing.
Get your kids moving with screen time
Find TV shows or video games that involve a lot of movement.
You can pick shows that have a lot of music in them. Erik is a big fan of Fraggle Rock, which we have on DVD. And he loves the intro. Erik cannot make it through an episode of Fraggle Rock without getting up and running around and dancing to some of the songs in the show. So that's really cool.
There is a video game on Nintendo that we like to use as well. It comes with this ring. It's a workout game and it's has a whole bunch of little mini-games and levels and things like that. But it's really cool because it's all movement. If you're not moving, you can't play the game.
If you can find experiences like that for your kids that will keep them moving and keep them going while they're in front of the screen, then that's a really cool thing to do too.
Break things up to limit continuous screen time
It really helps to break things up a little bit.
Netflix has a whole bunch of series now where each episode is about 11 minutes long. So you watch an episode, you run around a little bit, you play with something, you distract them with something else that they have, and then maybe go back to it later.
When you see your child get into zombie mode in front of the TV, it's time to switch things up.
Now I know some of you have older kids and they are either full-time remote schooling or part-time remote schooling. What I would really encourage you to do, even if the school's not doing it, is to make sure that you work in breaks.
Make sure that your kids get time outside. It doesn't matter how cold it is unless frostbite is an issue. Bundle up your kids for a little bit and take them outside. Let them run around a little bit in the fresh air.
It's really not good for kids to be schooling this way, but you don't have a lot of options right now. But I would really encourage you, even if the schools aren't doing it, take some breaks, and get away from the screen.
Do what you are comfortable with
You need to think about what are you comfortable with as a parent and give yourself some grace because they're going to be those days where you just need to do a little bit more.
Which means you need to allow some more screen time. Because you need to do something. You know, typically Jeff and I will reserve that extra screen time for days if we don't feel well, or one of us doesn't feel well and the other one really has things they have to get done. That's a good use of that screen time.
But don't ever be hard on yourself for letting your kid watch TV. Especially if it's an occasional thing.
Mama, you work so much on your schedules. And a lot of times it feels like there are never enough hours in the day. But you do this to yourselves, and then you kind of drag your kids along with you. And I'm totally guilty of this. I do this too.
You have these unrealistic expectations of what you can get done and what your kids can get done and what all of this should look like.
And it's exhausting. I get it. I do. You just need to give yourself a little bit of grace. It's okay. There's lots of really great educational TV for kids. You can find some great musical programming. There's good stuff out there and nice short episodes to keep kids engaged.
Don't be hard on yourself
Don't be hard on yourself. There are times when you just need a little bit of time for yourself. It's okay to have them watch something. It is all right.
I gave you some ideas for some things that you can do if you do want to decrease screen time. But also, I want you to understand that it's okay when you need to use screen time. Especially during a pandemic when everybody's at home all the time. It's all good.
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