I would estimate that I fail at limiting screen time for the kids at least 3 times each week. It happens so unassuming too, it almost sneaks up on me, as it is happening. We will start off the day doing really well. We will have walked the dog in the morning, had breakfast, and even got in some morning time reading. Then as a reward I will give them 30 minutes of screen time, which for the kids is usually a combination of ipad drawing or games, Nintendo switch (we have recently starting playing the Pokken Pokemon fighting game, which I will say is pretty darn fun), or TV. This gives me a chance to get some writing in, make some coffee, check email, get breakfast myself, and maybe get some house chores in. If it is a good day, I will stop the 30 minutes on the dot, if not then I will extend their time by another 30 minutes. This is always for my own selfish reasons, because I’m reading some internet article, watching some Youtube video, or I’m just not done with whatever I’m doing.
For those that are keeping track at home I’m at 1 hour already, it isn’t even lunch.
We are then at 11:30am and it is time to make lunch. Unfortunately the kids are not making their own lunch yet, so I have to find something for them to do for 30 minutes while I make lunch (usually a ham and cheese sandwich). Then it is almost like clockwork, they will ask to watch a show while eating lunch. Then also like clockwork I say yes, because I have to make my own lunch and eat too. Thirty minutes go by, and we have officially made it to 1.5 hours of screen time, and it is only 1pm.
What activities we do after lunch
Then we go for a bike ride, walk, or some basketball drills that I have them do. We have a basketball hoop in the backyard with a pretty thin piece of pavement that makes for some tight ball-handling drills, and fun h-o-r-s-e games. This gets a good sweat going, but I have to be fully involved doing the drills or else the kids are done in 5 minutes. We do that for about 30 minutes, get some popsicles (bribing them with popsicles is how I get them to do drills during the day), and relax for 30 more minutes.
The mid-afternoon is where I have the hardest time if we haven’t gone for a hike that day. If we go for a hike, then we are gone for a couple hours, and that puts us at 3pm typically. So assuming no hike at 2pm we all veg out. I give them screen time for 1 hour, which again is either Nintendo switch, Art Hub for Kids (Youtube), or iPad games.
We are officially at 2.5 hours of screen time for the kids and it isn’t even dinner yet. If I am again honest, at 3pm I’m pretty much drained, so I will extend screen time for another 30 minutes to get us to 3 hours for the day. Then at this time I will try and give them a self-directed non-screen time activity. This will either be puzzles, perler beads, or drawing. We will then get dinner ready, and try to eat dinner together (basically without them watching a tv show while eating).
What activities we do after dinner
After dinner it is about 6:30pm, and we mostly hang out maybe eating dessert or relaxing on the couch. This is the most dangerous time because my wife and I go to the couch without even thinking about it, grab our phones, and start your basic waste of time distractions, such as instagram, youtube, or whatever. I can usually hold off the kids from screen time because they just ate, and they are tired. The kids will then do some chores cleaning the table, and cleaning up the toys on the ground.
Wrap up, how did we do reducing screen time for the day?
The wind down is now happening from 7:30pm onwards. If it has been a tiring day for my wife and I, then we cave in and watch a movie with popcorn from 7:30pm – 9pm (bedtime). That easily put us at 4 hours of screen time for the day. I think it is amazing and somewhat of a bummer that we had 4 hours of screen time with:
- A Dog Walk
- Bike Ride
- Basketball Drills
- Reading Time
- Perler beads, Puzzles, or Drawing
So next time you are getting down on yourself for the amount of screen your kids are having, don’t feel bad. For one, this is the summer, so that is an extra 5.5 hours that you have to try and fill, and for two this is hard.