- By adding tech-free time to your family’s schedule, you’ll have a healthier family dynamic, children will develop emotional intelligence, and you’ll form strong bonds when doing hands-on activities.
- Creating a routine and enforcing a rule of “tasks must be completed before screen time” is a great way to teach responsibility. Plus, children learn to do the right thing and chose what is better for them in the long run rather than acting on impulse.
- “Explain different screen time limits” There is a difference between apps that are fun and junk food for the brain and nutritious apps that feed the brain to learn more. Setting limits for both of these are important and will help teach them how to balance needs vs. wants.
Confession time: I use the iPad as my babysitter when cooking dinner or doing other motherly things and yes sometimes I feel guilty.
I’m all about using the TV and iPad for learning and to “unwind” from a tough day at school for my girls. I think they have great value in terms of fun and in children’s education, but a healthy balance between technology and free play are extremely important in shaping a well-rounded individual.
Reducing screen time without a fight sounds like an impossible task.
It usually is, but I’ve found through personal experience with my daughters how to teach better habits with no hassle. That’s right mamas, no hassle!
Are you ready to have a fight-free day with your angel?!
Some of these suggestions may require a few changes in the home, but these changes make a happy home and relaxed children in the long run.
At first, I thought my girls had a healthy amount of screen time, but I’ve realized they can be extra cranky, snippy, and downright sassy when they spend more time on them.
On top of that, my youngest went from engaging in conversation, telling knee slapper knock-knock jokes, and even playing fun car games when on the road to cranky, crabby, and unable to communicate as well.
What happened to my daughter?! Where did she go I wondered.
So, as I paid more attention, I’ve found that her mood is negatively affected by screen time. Plus, she’d experience brain fog like symptoms, her recall ability diminished and so did her problem-solving abilities.
What’s a mom to do?!
Here are 3 things I and thousands of other moms have found very helpful:
1. Add Tech-free Time to Your Family’s Schedule
These are moments that create special memories for us while showing our kids we value them, love them, and are nurturing them while we play and grow a deeper bond naturally.
What are some amazing hands-on free play that is STEM approved and budget-friendly?! Well, since you’ve asked… here we go!
Puzzle Clix is a STEM approved classic puzzle for school-aged children with a modern twist allowing them to lock into place. This is such a convenience in so many ways.
These lock in place so there is no cleanup and I never step on a building block ever again or worry about losing puzzle pieces.
If your child is under 2, this is for you. Not only do they lock in place, but the base can be used for free play building blocks or for the puzzle. All you do is remove the board.
Next, Stack by Numbers is a math-focused STEM approved puzzle that will surely reduce screen time for kids ages 5 and up. Kids LOVE these puzzles because they can hang their new art on the wall and take it down later and create something new. It’s a multi-purpose puzzle for parent and child.
Lastly, one of my favorite STEM worthy activities that are hands-on is playing with skittles!
My daughter loves the rainbow, so I found this great activity where you make a rainbow out of skittles and warm water. We then talk about the science behind it and how it works.
This is a fun, easy experiment for a rainy day. Plus, it keeps her intrigued and her love for science is growing!
Mainly, I’ve found that the more hands-on we are the more fun they have and my daughters have forgotten about their iPads. When they start to get bored, they start asking. That’s my cue to take activity to the next level, some are too hard and some are too easy. We learn together and it’s fun seeing them progress at their own pace.
I’ve found that my children are happier, they have less restlessness, and are learning in their class much more easily. Children advance when they practice what they’ve learned in school, at home. By including STEM-based activities, they’re learning how to develop critical thinking skills, how to work as a team and how to lead when needed.
Now that they love doing more hands-on, STEM approved activities, I sat them down to talk about another new rule that teaches responsibility.
2. Tasks Must be Completed Before Screen Time
First, it teaches my children responsibility. They work for what they want. Chores must be completed before using screen time. Homework must be done and any other responsibilities are always finished first.
I’ve removed the idea that they’re entitled to anything because I’m too busy to deal with the combative behavior or they just believe that they can have whatever they want when they want it.
That is a recipe for disaster. While it may be hard at first, it’s much easier now as compared to when they’re 16. It’s worth the small hassle you may deal with now.
Second, this gives them the opportunity to be strong, independent women. I’ve instilled in them to value who they are and take pride in doing the right thing whether they feel like it or not.
This is a huge learning curve for emotional intelligence which is hard to develop.
They’re building character and learning every day who they are. I’m so proud of who they’re becoming too.
To help with this, I use a checklist that’s posted on our fridge. After school, she reviews the checklist while having a snack.
Then, she completes any chores, I sign off on it and she’s ready to roam for 20 minutes in the “junk” folder or 30 minutes in the “nutritious” folder in her iPad (see #3 on the junk and nutritious named folders).
This suggestion may cause a little bit of an argument every once in a while, but it’s important to stick with the routine and have the same conversation to remind our children why we are doing this.
They’re still young and need to be reminded, try not to get frustrated. I know, easier said than done!
There are endless benefits to creating responsibilities before having fun. This suggestion in combination with removing technology and replacing with STEM activities has made many positive impacts in our home.
It’s less stressful, there is more order in our home, and our daughters are able to communicate how they feel, what they want, and decern the difference between what they want and what they need to do because it’s a better decision for them in the long run.
Now that they’ve gotten used to the first two suggestions after a couple of weeks, I’ve introduced another rule. Screen time limits are a must for any of this to work.
Time management is something that many of us don’t do well with and it’s a hard habit to break into adulthood.
3.Explain Different Screen Time Limits
Setting different time limits teaches children how to live healthier in terms of mental health. We all enjoy various types of activities, some are just for fun, some are learning based, and others have zero educational and emotional value. It’s important to distinguish how much time is allowed for each.
By doing this, you’ll be able to monitor what they’re doing and how long their actually spending time on it.
Here’s an example:
- Clean up – Removed apps that we don’t use or that don’t teach us
- Set a limit – Only have a certain amount of apps and can use about 1 hour a day.
- Explain why – When we do something that doesn’t nurture our mind we start to regress into someone that doesn’t make us happy inside.
- Join them on the journey – Leading by example is always best.
I pulled out the iPad and worked with my daughter on cleaning up all of the apps. Just like we do with her toys.
Then, we organized them into the type of value they provide. We went through each app and figured out together whether it feeds the brain nutrients to be smarter and healthier or feeds our fun zone.
So, math and English based apps feed our brain while “junk food” feeds our fun part of the brain.
I explained that we have to clean up what we don’t use and set limits to what we do use.
Otherwise, we spend too much time doing things that don’t provide value in our life.
When we do something that doesn’t nurture our mind we start to regress into someone that doesn’t make us happy inside.
She understood and wasn’t happy about it, but she gave it a chance. We discussed time limits to our “junk food” apps which were 20 minutes a day and even our “nutritious” apps were at a 30-minute limit daily.
Once the alarm went off, she was done for the day.
On the weekends, I allow 80 minutes of screen time including TV. So, she gets an extra 30 minutes to enjoy her favorite show.
She can take her 20 minutes from her junk food apps and use it for the TV if she’s watching her favorite movie or show.
My daughter got the hang of it after a couple of weeks and it became routine. Once in a while, she gets frustrated, but she knows she does better with less screen time and we talk it out. I don’t budge on giving more time, if I do, this will turn into a bad habit of me saying yet more often then I want to.
I’ve even noticed and pointed out to her how she behaves more maturely. She’s quick-witted, smart, and enjoys being proactive.
These are crucial years into building self-esteem, self-respect, and learning who we are and what we like.
I even joined her on this journey!
I worked with my daughters on spending less time on technology and more time providing productivity in our lives.
It’s been such a freeing experience. Plus, we’re learning so much about what activities we like and our capabilities.
I’m not only teaching my children how to interact more but to push themselves and see what they’re capable of.
When they fail at a new hobby or don’t do well on a STEM-related activity, or making dinner with me, we learn from it and keep moving forward.
Everything we do should give us value, teach us something, and keep us motivated to continue onward. They’re learning to love who they are and what they want to become.
By removing technology, my daughters feel empowered to be the best version of themselves each day.
Try out these tips and let me know if you’ve felt just as empowered. How did your children handle the changes? Comment below.