Before school got out my husband, Dustin, liked a post on Facebook where someone made a list of stuff their kids had to do before they could use any “glowing screens” each day. He tagged me in the post and said he thought it was a great idea. I’m fairly certain I responded with a snarky comment along the lines of “Looks great! Especially if you have a list too!” Because MAN can that guy get sucked into a video game!
All the same, a seed was planted in my crowded brain. Then school got out and my crazy meter started going off with a bit more regularity. I went to Pinterest (duh!) and searched for this screen time chore stuff because YOU GUYS! IT’S SUMMER! My kids are home all the damn time and HAVING MY KIDS HOME ALL DAY IS KILLING ME! Working from home with tiny humans around is almost impossible. They are needy and can’t seem to think for themselves. And even though I have childcare for them, they still barge into my office and demand things from me when I’m trying to work. Add to that my kids become insufferable jerks when they watch too much TV and really, that just sounds like a fast way to get me to drive away from my house and maybe never come back. But I digress.
I started the first week off school with this “screen time must do” list and something totally insane happened. It worked. Like, it worked in a way I never thought it would. I made a list of the things BOTH kids had to do, and then a list of what they each had to do individually. The first day my list was LONG! It was like this:
- Unload dishwasher
- Tidy bedroom
- Solve third world debt
- Make bed
- Alphabetize and color sort all book shelves
- Read for 30 minutes
- Be physically active for 30 minutes, or until the front yard is relandscapped with drought friendly plants – whichever comes first.
I may have over shot, but still…
Actually, the list was pretty simple. They each had to do their daily chores (dishwasher, pet care, room tidying, bed making) and then I added on 60 minutes of creative play, 30 minutes reading or work book, and 30 minutes of physical activity. They did what they were supposed to. The TV (or laptop or iPad) didn’t get turned on until later in the afternoon and they weren’t giant jerks! I felt like a winner!
Then, after almost a year of asking we finally broke down and got Minecraft. This changed everything because screen time became THAT MUCH MORE COVETED. Suddenly chores got sloppy, or forgotten or not done at all because the glowing glowy screen held a magical world of squares. I tried to understand the draw. Really I did. But I don’t get it. (Although my child has built me a house with a giant library and a long pool for swimming laps and given me pets. A dog named Pixel and a horse named Augustus, respectivly. So… maybe someday I’ll wander around my dream house – but probably not.) In any case, with the addition of Minecraft to our home my kids were being jerkier than ever and my annoyance levels were off the charts.
So, the screen time list got a little longer and we added on some clarifying rules.
- Absolutely NO SCREENS AT ALL until after 4pm – even if your chores are done.
- 60 minutes MAX of Minecraft
- All screens are shut off at 7:30pm.
Now, I am not saying this has been easy. There have been tears and tantrums (sometimes even from the kids!) but for the most part it’s working. The kids are DOING more stuff. They are creating things, going places, moving a ton more and they are not being jerks with near the regularity they would be if they were watching so much tv. I like them better, and that’s important since we’ve got 8 more weeks of these summer shenanigans.
How about you? Any rules for limiting screen time and increasing your kids niceness? What’s on your “No Screen Time Until…” list? Share in the comments!!