Summer can feel very long sometimes. Heck, I’ve been there. I clearly remember the days when the kids seemed crazier than a pack of wild squirrels, leaving piles of household detritus in their wake while I followed them helplessly, longing for a hot cup of coffee and five minutes in the bathroom without someone knocking on the door.
I got through this crazy, amazing, busy, hilarious, chaotic stage of our lives knowing that my mom and grandmother did it, so I could too. And they did it without relying heavily on television, portable DVD players and iPads. I felt a need to do the same, mostly because I didn’t want my kids to grow up to be zombies with square eyeballs, but also because I wanted their childhoods to be about more than just what was presented to them on a screen.
My kids are older now, so I can look back with some clarity in regards to our summer media consumption and what worked for us in terms of identifying and maintaining some limits. And I would like to clarify that there were definitely days – many early mornings in fact – when I snoozed on the couch while the kids watched Snow White for the 100th time. It’s ok to do that of course, but I found that when we turned everything off it often resulted in closer, richer, happier moments as a family. This is what I learned:
It really helps to think about when the most media consumption occurs, and planning activities for that same time. Do your kids watch a lot of TV in the evenings? How about going to the park instead? Or signing the kids up for swim lessons? Or digging some of your favourite board games out of the basement? Or how about making a list called “What To Do Instead of Watching TV?”
Some parents also set timers for screen time. You can use any timer but there are some cool looking apps just for this purpose. They come in handy if you’re looking for a way to balance all screen time, not just the television but computer and tablet use as well. Here are two contenders I spotted recently:
So what about your family? How do you manage media and stay sane? I’d love to hear how you balance your media consumption over the summer months!
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