You can avoid screen time battles by creating and using your own summer screen time rules. Printable included in post!
Summertime can get hairy.
Just today, for example.
There I am, innocently eating a salad, and I look out the kitchen window just in time to see my boys fully naked playing in a mud hole. This is life in the country when you have no neighbors and a lot of boys.
They showered in the outdoor shower and we went about our business.
But the struggle is real…
When you’ve got all the kids home for the summer and it’s blazing hot outside it is So Tempting to resort to more screen time than we’d like.
I decided that having some type of plan about how we’ll do screen time this summer would help prevent the inevitable backlash that comes with too much screen freedom.
- Irritable and impatient attitudes
- More difficulty napping and sleeping (due to over stimulation and less exercise)
- More acting out after cartoons (refer to my friend’s post on schemas)
- Less imagination and creative play
There are more, but you get the picture.
Read: A Summer Schedule That’ll Keep Kids Occupied & Mom Sane
Creating A Summer Routine (With Screen Time Rules) That Avoids Power Battles
If you, like me, don’t have a total screen free home, it’s a great idea to set up some routines and ground rules at the beginning of summer before things get dicey.
Codes & Controls… STAT
If you haven’t already put controls and codes on your devices, please read about the dangers of the World Wide Web and then get on it, mama!
The best way for you to control screen time is to control access to devices.
- Have a rule: No screens turn on without your okay.
- Passcode or pattern: Create a passcode for the devices and don’t give it out unless your child is old enough to understand the rules and has the self-control to follow them. For those younger kids… just don’t give them the code. This will cut down significantly on battles.
- Control location: My Montessori friend sometimes stores her kids’ iPads in a kitchen drawer until she’s ready to bring them out. If you know there are certain times your kids cannot get on devices, keep them out of sight.
- Collect at tend of the day: Adults aren’t even able to control their own screen time very well, much less kids. If you want to help your child build their own self-control, then set them up for success. Collect any and all devices at a certain time each evening.
- Get filters: There are a lot of ways to go about this, but you can cut to the chase and get something like Circle With Disney which affects every live device within range of your router.
While we do watch TV, we don’t have iPads or any form of table in our home.
This started because we were cheap, then we just didn’t ever buy one. If you feel yours are causing more trouble than they’re worth, retire them for a week and see what happens.
Read: A Guide to Parental Controls By Device
Chores First, Play After
One of the best things you can do to avoid battles, pouting, and resistance is to order things correctly.
Instead of letting the kids have screen time then turning it off so everyone starts flailing and you’re yelling, “Let’s do chores with music, it’ll be fun!” it’s much easier to simply model work first, play later.
- It doesn’t matter so much what time of day this happens, just that you don’t put chores after something they never want to stop.
- Get some chore cards or a chore list and use them to help kids learn to work independently and learn cleaning and tidying skills.
- Choose a time of day or day of the week and attempt consistency. Once it works it’ll be easy to keep the routine up.
Read: 101+ Chore Cards To Help Kids Do Chores Independently
Help prepare your kids for life, one skill at a time. Simple, easy skills every month!Learn More
Choose Screen Time Of Day Wisely
I am a big fan of screen time around the 4:00 o’clock hour while I’m trying to cook.
The time you choose is up to you!
For your summer screen time rules, you want to choose a time that works WITH your family life, not against it.
Instead of letting the kids choose the time of day, be pro-active. If you find it difficult to cook with kids under your feet, use screen time while you’re cooking.
If you like having an hour to read and prepare for the day in the morning, allow screen time in the morning.
- Avoid screen time right before naps or bedtimes as it prevents proper wind down.
- By choosing a time that works for you, screen time serves two purposes (entertaining them and freeing you up).
- As mentioned earlier, have screen time after they’ve done some type of chores or tidying, etc. Work happens much faster that way, try it out and see!
Read: Avoid Parenting Battles the “South African” Way
Create summer rhythms that help you balance fun AND real life responsibilities, so you can make make memories with your kids.Learn More
Teach Routine Independence
Any post of mine would be remiss without mentioning one of my favorite things… routines.
Having simple morning and evening routines give children touchstones throughout the day. More gets done, the home stays in better order, and you don’t have to give instructions constantly because the kids already know what needs to be done.
Include screen time in your routine.
- For small children you can be the Holder of the Routine.
- Kids young as toddlers can learn to use the routine cards and preschoolers and early elementary kids (pre-readers) can learn to follow their own routine independently. (Here’s my post on how my kindergarteners got themselves fully ready from waking up to walking out the door)
- Use pictures, words, or even simple morning or evening routines for yourself.
- Position screen time after other tasks that help build responsibility and character.
Read: 40+ Printable Daily Routine Cards for Kids!
Bobbi Galloway says
I had to smile at your intro…we too have boys, live in the country and love our outdoor shower!
Hannah SIlva says
Happily, my son destroyed his ipad in a fit of rage and he has to pay to replace it. He’s seven, so it will be a while. I’ve replaced his online curriculum with McGuffy’s and Ray’s Arithmetic. However, we have paid for a monthly service that gives me full control over his tablet. It’s OurPact. It allows me to give him access to things like music all night, but take away everything else. Worth checking out.
Thanks for the article.
Steph, Mom Found says
Yes!! I do everything I can to limit screen time, but the two biggest helpers are our summer routine and using parental controls! All the tablets shut down after 1 hour.
Laura Moscoso says
Hello Rachel. I appreciate most of the advise you give us moms to help us cope with so many harsh situations we face with our children. Specially helpful for me were the sleep habit series. So thanks for that!
It’s very sad having to see children using “screens”. It’s the worst thing we can do to our kids these days, as they become numb to most things, specially the spiritual. Kids become addicted to technology and then they find the time with God boring. We have to be very careful with that.
That was all. May the Lord bless you Rachel.
Thank you for your blog (just found it!) As a singel mum I really struggle with screen time. I have found that I also struggle a lot with not having a proper role model in my own mum, and am trying to figure out this whole parenting thing too (hah!). But I am aware that the screens are not helping, but taking them away is hard too. I think I am an INTJ, so I really need my alone time which I “buy” with giving them their ipads.
Am very motivated to change this, but it’s going to be quite a tough challenge for me I believe!