Call me the “Screen Time Regulator”. I laugh a bit at this statement as I was not always as intentional at this role in the past. I have a few tips to limiting screen time successfully as well as a funny story that will make any parenting fail you thought you had, not seem quite so bad. Here’ s how to end the screen time battle for good!

Before I go forth on this topic I find myself chuckling to myself as I finally am writing about one of the funniest parenting mishaps I have had to date. Well, this past event wasn’t funny at the time as I may have possibly created some short term trauma for my poor children but looking back it’s definitely worth laughing at! I will get to that story soon.

Do you struggle with the well known SCREEN TIME BATTLE? You know, the one that results in begging, crying and fit throwing for more technology time from your kids. There’s even the battle within the parent to let in so you can just sit in a quiet corner in your home in peace for a few minutes while you eat sugar and zone out! I feel you, I get it and I am far from perfect in parenting but I have found a few things that have worked very well!

You can feel like the “good parent” that limits screen time and the “sane parent” that gives in at the same time. There is a secret to this I am excited to share!

First off, the things I do to encourage free range play and other activities besides technology overuse:

  1. Treats and outdoor play. The weather is nice finally and Popsicles and cool treats are fun to eat. We have a pool finally set up, trampoline ready to bounce high energy kids, a rope swing to play on and a hammock to knock siblings off of. “Old school fun” I like to call it. A certain part of the day when the weather is nice I encourage time where their only option is to play outside. Once they get out there with a yummy treat, their creative juices get going and they are busy playing. Long story short, boot them out for a set time….they’ll have so much fun they will forget about he computer game they were whining for.
  2. Family exercise. Modeling healthy lifestyle is the best way to encourage your kids to grow up with good self care and value their own health. Often I take my kids on walks or we pack up their scooters and head to a local track where I do bleachers as they scoot and play together on the track. They even sometimes join in the bleacher workout!
  3. Require reading time. I have a handmade book holder in my living room that encourages reading. We regularly go to the library and pick out new books together they find intriguing and store them in our book case. Often a book read is a prerequisite for earned screen time.
  4. Create art. We make a lot of art at Simple Acres such as this resistance watercolor piece but I often encourage them to then draw a picture describing what the book was about I require them to read. They enjoy this simple task and it reinforces their literacy and ability to understand the content they read in a creative way.
  5. Chores. I find kids actually (oddly) enjoy chores. From what I  have observed it gives them a sense of ownership and accomplishment within the family unit AND rewarding hard work with screen time works in our book.

So there are some of my real life alternatives to screen time we use. The biggest and simplest change I have made is allotting time frames and days I allow technology. For me, it has been easier for the majority of the time to restrict computer and video game use to only Friday night and some of Saturday. I at times feel fine in the evening allowing a set amount of time on technology if the above activities have been achieved in their day as well. I also set a timer and forewarn them how much time they are getting so that they know when the alarm goes off they are done. This has been huge for preventing tantrums and meltdowns.

I mentioned a humorous story I was going to share so here it is. There was a time I was able to limit computer and video game time for nearly a year! Can you believe it?

The story goes like this:

It was a busy day full of appointments and errands with three kids in tow. My last appointment was a doctors appointment for ALL three children. A disaster waiting to happen but nonetheless I felt I had my “A Game” on because I was the master “screen time regulator” using technology for good. I had fully charged each child’s tech device and brought it ready for a blissful technology trance as I went through each child’s check up visit. Well, for the most part it was a success. I left the appointment a bit frazzled but at least sane. Ready to get home and relax from a long day of errand running with three little humans. I packed them in the car and off we went.

Success! I felt accomplished in this moment. I had used technology for good and left feeling like SUPER mom…until…

I see iPads flying in the air as I am driving onto the highway. I was confused for a split second as I realized what this Super mom (ha) just did!

Yep, I left the dang devices on the hood of my car to be flown off like hockey pucks and smashed to shreds in front of my kids eyes. The tears and the daily remainders my kids offered of how mommy smashed their prized computers was so sad for a while! We learned to do more of the activities I mentioned above though so in the end it was a positive learning experience.

So yep, this might not be the “best” way to limit screen time but it was the most “successful” and long term solution we had for awhile! So there’s a little nugget to store away in your pocket for when your next mommy fail comes your way. You can feel just a little bit better about yourself and remind yourself of “that one blogger” who threw her kids iPads onto the highway into ongoing traffic! Ha!

In the end, we bought new computers and I do the things I mentioned above and every so often I just let loose on a Friday night and offer NO LIMITS and get a break with glorious sanity and peace with no guilt AT ALL as my kids float in technology heaven!

This week we did the playing, the chores, the reading and the creating and we even had a picnic! I took a night off and cooked up a yummy pizza and we all ate it together “picnic style” ! It really is the simple stuff the makes life matter. The more quality time you find together living life, being present, playing or just enjoying an uninterrupted meal together the better!

So this post is for all the parents entering Summer when the screen time battle can be the toughest! I earned  my patch of “Screen time Regulator” from my challenges and successes!

Red Baron pizza is introducing a Baroness that represents moms just like you! Moms who overcome those daily stories of chaos with their kids while in the end reuniting over a great slice of pizza! Join this fun movement and snag your patch  (there are many humorous ones to choose from) and share your story on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #wingmama and tag @simpleacres and @baroness . Three of my readers will earn a free pizza.

So in the end,  a few things that work for you and remember it’s OK to let loose too and bake this pizza for dinner and end the night letting your kids have some screen time while you enjoy a little peace and quiet too. Life is about the beauty of the “mess” not perfection!

Snag this pizza for your next chill night at home with the kids! The crust was so crisp and yummy and if you share your parenting war stories on twitter and tag me @simpleacresblog with the hashtag #wingmama three of my readers will win a coupon for a free pizza!

Cheers to an amazing season of life to come. Dovidenia.

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