Ahhh summer! We all have those pinterest worthy ideas planned in our minds and the boards with enriching and educational crafts and activities that entertain the kiddos for all of two minutes. In case you don’t know the recommended AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) screen time rules, here they are:
- No screen time, except for video chatting, for 18 months and younger.
- Only high-quality programming and/or apps with adult supervision and interaction for 18 -24 months.
- 1 hour per day with parents co-viewing for appropriateness and high-quality for ages 2-5.
- Set appropriate limits with lots of screen-free time for ages 6 and older.
Now, I’m pregnant in the Florida summer, with a threenager who constantly tells me she is bored (I didn’t even realize this was a thing for little kids!). I am also of the mindset that boredom builds character so I don’t have my little one’s day all planned out. She goes to pre-school 3 times a week and I do my best to go on a few outings or playdates throughout the week. But, again being pregnant in the blazing, summer, Florida sun, most days I just want to stay home and watch TV all day myself. So, as I try to limit her screen time, she sometimes ends up sitting with me on the couch binge-watching the very age-inappropriate Lucifer on Netflix.
As I tried to assuage my guilt, which my mother assured me I should not have since she used to sit me in front of sesame street and go about her day and I turned out just fine thank you, I came across this great idea from NetNanny.com about giving my daughter age appropriate chores and educational activities before screen time.
The idea goes that you set up a chart with some simple chores to do prior to screen time such as brush your teeth, brush your hair, eat breakfast and clear the table. Then you add to the chart a list of educational items like 20 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of coloring, build something, do a craft, play outside, etc. and only when they have completed the chores and x amount of items from the educational side can they watch screen time.
Now, I was skeptical but I set this up for my little one and she did all the chores and ALL the educational/enriching activities and didn’t even ask to watch TV or use the iPad until the evening! My mind was blown. So, I just had to share it. I am also pretty sure this will not work all the time, but it definitely helps in setting a routine for her and getting her to think of more things to do on her own instead of constantly stating that she’s “so bored.” I feel like it helps put the responsibility on her shoulders. “You’re bored? Well here are some ideas figure it out.”
So, this summer, give it to your kiddos, let them come up with stuff to do and don’t be so quick to give in to their plea for screen time (be strong mommas!)