It breaks my heart when I go out to run errands and see young children absorbed in their parent’s cell phones, watching videos or playing games. Even worse is when I go out to eat and see entire families with their noses in devices.
As the mom of grown kids who were young before cell phones were commonplace, I know how the parent-child bond is incredibly nurtured during everyday outings. Drives to soccer practice, grocery store runs, and restaurant family gatherings are amazing opportunities to ask questions and listen to your kids without trying to solve anything for them. This is where parents really get to know who their kids are are and how they’re doing.
I know that parenting is hard. Let me say that again: PARENTING IS HARD. Especially during a global pandemic.
And devices seem like one way we can make parenting easier. We can use screens to distract kids while they’re bored, hungry, or irritated. We can give them something to do while we take care of chores, work, or something else important.
I get it.
But the truth is this type of diversion tactic is creating kids who expect to be entertained continuously.
I know we’re all just trying to get through the day. So… how are hard-working, overwhelmed parents supposed to go from screens all the time to screens less of the time?
Let’s start with a few micro changes:
Instead of sitting children down in front of a screen while you do household chores, bring them into the process. Even very young kids can play with spoons and bowls and keep you company while you cook. Kids will become more equipped to be helpful, and you will develop a culture of teamwork in your home.
Select screen-friendly spaces in the house. These are areas where devices are to be charged and used. That way devices aren’t all over the place and you limit unsupervised screen time and teach kids that using technology is a privilege.
Set everyone up for success with plenty of screen-free activities on hand. Get everyone a real alarm clock and a really good book!
Sing songs and have conversations while driving instead of giving children screens to amuse them. The car is a great place to have fun and connect with your kids.
Set an example for your kids. Become more mindful of your own screen use. Remember, if you’re checking your cell phone frequently throughout the day, your children will view this habit as the norm.
Avoid screens at meals. Instead, tell stories, play games, start conversations, and enjoy each other’s company.
It’s all about progress, not perfection. Taking small, consistent steps will build good habits and great relationships in your family.
You’re doing amazing,
PS: Looking for an incredible screen-free activity? Our Care Kits for Kiddos are full of fun activities for kids and families that build good character traits and teach important life skills.