We have all seen the articles, headlines, and research that shows that less screen time is better for our kiddos. AND we all know that is easier said than done! What is a parent to do? It's so darn hard to get our kids off their screens and unplugged, even though we know that is better for them. Well, the folks at the Greater Good Science Center are here to help! In a recent article, they say that "making time for open, unstructured, unplugged play improves relationships and helps children build self-management skills." Fantastic - but HOW do we make this time? One quick strategy: " To support our children, we must first model healthy behavior with screens ourselves. " That's right- check yo' self. Model the healthy behaviors you want to see in your own children and close the Pinterest page.
The article, however, is about so much more than modeling for our children and hoping they pick up the hints. Mark Bertin, the author, suggests following these 4 steps to press pause and get back to playing.
Layout your family’s schedule as it is now. On a daily calendar or blank paper, record a typical weekday and a weekend day. Get into the details. For each family member, include when everyone wakes and goes to bed and unavoidable logistics, like cooking, cleaning, your job, homework, and getting ready for school. Estimate time spent checking email, surfing the web, playing games, and watching television, as well as time spent on recreation, driving, and all the rest of the family’s logistics.
Create a new calendar from scratch. On a second blank page, record what you’d like to prioritize. Start with what’s non-negotiable—school hours, bedtime, homework, or anything else that may not change right now, noting what’s fixed (the bus comes at 6:50 a.m.) versus what’s adjustable (bedtime at 8:30 p.m. might work better this year).
Fill in next what you value most. Include whatever you choose to prioritize, for yourself and your children, like exercise, spending time with friends or family, reading, creative pursuits, after-school activities and social time, and engaging in fun and positive activities together. Make sure to include your self-care, and schedule downtime for your children if that tends to get lost in the shuffle.
Consider what to do with any unscheduled time. Time remaining is potentially available for nonessential activities: another after-school activity, television or video games, or whatever has been consuming family time. Or leave that time blank and see what happens next. Stay patient, since changing the rules by cutting back on screen time may mean your children will have to learn to entertain themselves again over time.
Check out the full article here.