How To Limit Screen Time

How to Limit Screen Time for Kids

I’m guilty! Put me in handcuffs and throw me in the slammer. I have relied on the power of screen time to get me through those rough episodes in public, whiny times at home, and the occasional “will you stop if I give this to you?” moments of parenthood.

I’ve read the research and I know excessive screen time is no beuno when it comes to the little ones. I have worked to be more intentional in limiting screen time, but not necessarily eliminating it all together. I believe there are benefits to watching educational shows or playing learning apps. My oldest can name at least ten types of whales and tell you the difference between an octagon and hexagon – he’s only three. With this said, I don’t want him to turn into a tech zombie before he’s in Kindergarten.

How to Limit Screen Time

Here are five ways to effectively limit screen time for kids:

  1. Break the habit – Make it clear, screen time WILL NOT be a constant. Listen, this may not be the most conventional tactic for all parents, but we’ve never been able to gradually phase out anything in our kid’s lives. My youngest never used a pacifier, but our oldest was an addict. After months of negotiating, we cut him off cold turkey. By day two, there were no complaints or pleas for the paci. Just like the trusty wubbanub, we cut him off from the iPad and life moved on. Instead of grabbing the iPad when he came home from school, he was inspired to play with his toys, build a puzzle, or color a picture.
  2.  Screen time is a treat – If our kids want to watch a movie or their favorite episode of Octonauts, we encourage them to make their beds, clean up the play room, eat all of their dinner (my oldest is a picky eater), or help take care of the dogs. We don’t get what we want just because we want it. It’s a tough lesson, but our preschooler has already established a routine of organization and appreciation. When he gets to sit down with iPad, it’s a treat for hard work.
  3. Incentivize in other ways – Our  three-year-old is strongly driven by incentives. If it’s a sticker or a high five, he wants to be recognized for a job well done. We created a help chart, where he receives a sticker for completing a series of chores, helping his little brother, listening at school, etc. Once he fills up his chart be can exchange his points for a small prize. Lately he has been into Tsum Tsums, so we have been awarding him with a blind bag. He is driven to fill his collection, which in return fills his time and he forgets about wanting to watch Frozen for the hundredth time.
  4. Circulate Toys – OK, so incentives aren’t your thing. One simple way to redirect your child’s attention from the screen is to circulate their toys. This method works for our toddler. By changing out their toys every couple of weeks re-inspires play time. They forget they had those action figures, books, cars, etc. We switch things around about every two weeks and it seems to work.
  5. Set the example – Now, this is the hardest method – eliminating our own use of technology in front of the kids. It’s bad when your three-year-old tells you to put down your phone or step away from the computer (insert parental cringe). Our kids watch our every move and look to us for inspiration. Let’s set the example, and reduce our time on the digital devices. We might even feel better afterwards.

I am making a public vow to reduce my screen time and be more present with my kids, because they are only little for so long. Will you join me and make the pledge today? Let me know in the comments what strategies you will use to limit screen time for your family.

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4 Ways to Teach Kids How to Recycle

The other day I was able to convince my three-year-old to sit down and watch Blue Planet II with me on Netflix. He has a deep love for the ocean (like his mama), but he LOVES to watch Boss Baby, Hercules, and Coco on a loop. It was a grand achievement to get him to watch something outside of his core selection. As we progressed through the episodes, we came to an image of a sea turtle caught inside a pile of trash in the middle of the ocean. As David Attenborough dictated the life and hardships of this turtle, I saw an intense look of worry spread across my child’s face. He could not quite understand why this sea turtle was having to struggle. I had to explain to him that some people do not care for the sea turtles like we do and that others pollute the ocean, impacting all creatures living underneath the surface.

To say he was disappointed in the litterbugs of the world was an understatement. We continued to watch Blue Planet II when suddenly I was smacked across the face with one thought – I have yet to teach my son about recycling.

At this point in the story, I welcome your judgement, because I am ashamed of my actions. I started a Be Green club in high school for heaven’s sake; my son should know how to recycle.

It is never too early to teach our children how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. We have taken a few actions within our household to implement environmentally conscious behaviors that even our one-year-old engages in. Here are the four ways you can introduce recycling to kids.

  1. Recycling container – We have introduced a recycling bin within the house to collect all recyclable objects. We would typically pile them up and take them out to the main bin on the side of the house, but by simply purchasing a storage container, the boys are excited to recycle. They almost fight to see who can put the recyclable in the bin first. WWE championship of recycling.
  2. Get creative – What’s the saying? “Someone else’s trash is another man’s treasure.” With an egg carton, toilet paper roll, and tabs from a can of soda you now have a lively robot, shark, or man-eating dinosaur. Making a creative moment out of recyclables makes learning just a little more fun.
  3. YouTube videos – There is nothing like some screen time to make my kids stop in their tracks. While there are some awesome TV episodes that focus on recycling, there are so many options on YouTube as well. The SciShow Kids channel on YouTube not only has fun and educational videos on a variety of topics, there is a great episode all about “How Recycling Works!” Jessi and her robot Squeaks are great at paving the way for my kids to make smarter decisions when it comes to waste and recycling.
  4. Matching games – My three-year-old is currently obsessed with matching games. Matching like recyclable items, such as aluminum cans, cardboard, plastic bottles, etc. teaches him what can and cannot be recycled. Finding the big green recycling symbol is the “special” match, so he’s always on the hunt!

Since we started this adventure to keep Mother Earth happy and healthy, my kids (at least my preschooler) is a little more conscious about his actions. Before he throws anything away, he asks, “can we recycle this mommy?” It doesn’t matter if you believe in global warming or not, we have a responsibility to take care of this planet. It is vitally important we teach our kids the importance of caring for the earth, so that it is a safe and wonderful place to live in for years and years to come.

How do you reduce, reuse, and recycle in your house? Let me know in the comments below.

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