I was inspired by an idea that someone shared on facebook where they created a list of things that their kids needed to accomplish before they would be allowed to watch any T.V. or movies or play on a computer/tablet/phone... any "screen time".
I made our own list, similar to the one that was shared (I wish I knew who to credit for the original idea). I changed a few things, and added some things and here's what our list looked like in the end:
Of course, if you're going to use this idea, you're likely to have different priorities than our family has, different interests than we do, and kids of different ages than our kids. You'll likely want to alter the list to fit your family.
We've been using this list since the start of the summer and it has been very successful! At first I wasn't sure whether I was asking too much of my kids (who are 7 & 10 years old) but it turns out that I'm very happy with this list and the things on it.
Introducing The List
We sat down as a family one evening and talked about how there are so many different things that we can spend our time on and there are productive activities and there are unproductive activities. We talked about what "productive" means. We were able to come to an agreement that it is better to be productive, but that there is a time for relaxing and for resting our bodies and minds.
After establishing that, we introduced the list. It was met with mixed responses. There were even a few tears. We talked through those concerns and by the end of our little meeting, everyone was on board- in fact the one who had been in tears was suggesting we increase the limits!
Trying It Out
After a week of trying it out we had mixed opinions about it. The parents were thrilled with it. The kids were sometimes thrilled and sometimes rather unimpressed. We kept with it though, and I found that after some time, the girls learned that there wouldn't be any "instant gratification" with screen time. They accepted what was required in order to have it, and they worked toward it. After a while, they came up with the idea to do "double time" where they would do everything on the list for twice as long as required, which would allow them twice as much screen time. Works for me!
The results have been kind of amazing! I have loved seeing the girls come up with things to do to fulfill the creativity requirement! I think it's so easy for kids (and for me as a mom) to go straight to screen time whenever there's a break in plans. Once I tell them they can watch something or play on a computer or tablet, it's really easy for me to lose track of time and then I'm suddenly wondering how long they've been having screen time and when that happens, I regret that they've spent so much time doing that when they could've done something better (and they're out of time). With this list I know that we've got our priorities in the right order! It keeps the kids in check and it keeps ME in check! (Sometimes I want to say yes to screen time because let's face it, that's easier for moms too! This helps me to stick to the rules and not give in.)
They don't finish the list every day and they don't have screen time every day and I'm glad that they're learning that that is perfectly fine. We don't enforce the list on weekends and parents can make exceptions on weekdays if we have a family activity in mind that involves screen time (for example, we've watched the Olympics together a few times recently- regardless of whether everything on the list has been completed).
What About You?
What about you and your family? Have you had any rules this summer to try and manage screen time for your kids? I'd love to know what you've tried and what has worked for you!
One year we tried a rewards system where the girls earned points that they could spend on fun things to do like watch shows (among other things). We called it the Gem System and wrote a post all about it, if you're interested in details!