Do you find it hard to limit your children’s (and your own) screen time?
By screen time, I mean time spent watching TV, playing on games consoles, the laptop, iPod touches, tablets – anything really that involves electronics in some way!
I was struggling with this a month or so ago, mainly because I got a bit too laid back about it when we had the six week plague* at the start of the year. None of us had the energy to do very much at all so I took the easy way out and let them spend a bit too much time on their electronics.
By the time we all started to feel better and actually had the energy to get out and do something, both kids were at the point where they would rather stay in and play on their electronics which is definitely NOT how I wanted it to be!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging any other parents and my children both have an iPod touch and we have a shared Google Nexus and a laptop so it’s not like I don’t want them to use them. I’m actually a big believer in children having access to things like this as I think it helps them to learn in all sorts of ways. It’s just that it got to the point where I felt that they were playing with their electronic games more than I was comfortable with so I decided to change things and cut back drastically on the amount of time they were allowed to play on them for.
Which caused a new issue that I hadn’t even thought of before. How can I tell two children that they can’t play on their electronics if I’m forever checking Facebook and Twitter on my phone or sat on my laptop blogging every afternoon?
So at the same time that I started to limit their screen time, I cut out Twitter almost completely for myself and limited my own laptop time blog to after 8pm on a night when both children are in bed. I do still check my phone every now and again to see what’s going on in Facebook land and I still post pictures to Instagram but that’s about it now until after eight.
It means that my blog has suffered though and I’m not always around to reply to my emails straight away but stepping back from everything means that I’ve spent more time with the kids and I know that I’ve set a good example for them by being able to show that I’ve reduced my screen time just like I’m expecting them to reduce theirs.
In years to come, I won’t remember the emails I didn’t reply to straight away or the posts I have sitting in draft because I didn’t have time to write them. I’ll remember the fun I had with my children while they were still young enough to enjoy spending with me. Ultimately, that’s what’s important
They’re now not on their electronics nearly as much at all through the week other than Miss Frugal using Skype to message her school friends and Instagram to post photos of what she’s up to. On a weekend, I encourage them to play out with their friends and usually have things planned for either Saturday or Sunday. We like to have one day at home though and I’m happy for them to do what they want on that day. I’m going to start using it to do bloggy catch up things and schedule posts for the week ahead so I can get my blog back on track.
I’ve also been a bit inspired by The Boy and Me lately and we’ve been making sure that no matter what the weather, we spend at least 15 minutes a day outside together. It’s not always easy when it’s cold and wet but we’ve had lots of fun that we wouldn’t have had before – we’ve been to the beach in the freezing cold, splashed in puddles, bounced on the trampoline in all weathers (that’s my fallback outside option ;-)) and discovered lots of new outdoor places to visit. I can’t wait to see what we’ll discover when the weather picks up, if the weather ever picks up that is.
If you’re interested, there’s a great blog that I’ve discovered today that’s all about encouraging children to spend time outdoors every day here. Do you spend time outside with your children, other than time when you have to be outside like walking to and from school, shops etc?
And, more important than anything else, we’ve learned that the best thing about spending time together in the cold is the part where you get warm together – snuggling under a blanket on the settee is our favourite, shortly followed by hot chocolate and marshmallows.
What about you, do you get out with your children every day?
*not the actual plague – just a series of assorted coughs, colds and bugs that we all seemed to have continuously throughout January and February