How to Manage Summer Break Screen Time

How to Manage Summer Break Screen Time

I've been hanging out on Instagram a lot this summer and I mentioned something in a post over there about how we've been managing screen time this summer. I've had several requests to share this in more detail, so here you are!

Ideas for Controlling Kids Screen Time

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:

Managing Kids Screen Time During Summer Break

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!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Please subscribe or follow to keep in touch.


  1. It sounds like this is a great system for your family. It definitely would work for a lot of kids. I think there's a certain age where this is much less likely to be effective - 13 for instance. LOL. Anyways what has worked for us? Camp and one daughter worked for several weeks as a camp counsellor so no time for gadgets or screen time. Travel with us and staying active with us has also worked well. I will check out the gem system post so I can share with people I know who have young children.

    1. I disagree teenagers are the best for a system like this. We have a similar system with two teens and two preteens and little ones and they have fulfilled their requirements and then some. I think most of the time we under estimate our teens.

  2. So, after you shared this with me, we modified it a little bit for our family, too. They get 5 minutes of educational screen time for each thing they do on their "getting ready" list. That adds up to 30 minutes, and they can have that as soon as everything on their getting ready list is done. Then they can get more or non-educational screen time for doing things similar to your tasks list, like play outside, or clean a room, or read, etc...They get 10 minutes of screen time for each thing they do, but they have to have done 3 things to use it.
    Like you, I have been really glad that we've done this. There has been so much more creative play. Honestly, they usually just do their list and get their educational screen time, and then play the rest of the day. One day, I experimented, b/c we had a really long car ride. I told them they could have their educational screen time, which they did right off the bat, then I brought along toys and books. It was so fun to hear them play with their toys together and read their books in the back of the car. They did that for an entire hour, without any complaining or fighting. That wouldn't have happened if you hadn't shared this with us. I would normally just give them the tablets b/c it was a long car ride. They don't complain about the lack of screen time hardly at all, and if they do, I just direct them to the list and ask what they'd like to do. It has been great! A much better Summer than it could have been.

  3. Screen time can be such a battle, looks like you have come up with a good way to manage a balance between other activities and screen time.

  4. What a great list! :) We do something similar for toys. The boys have so many gifted to them from friends/family, that it's difficult to justify something new. If Kit *really* wants a new toy then we have a checklist of daily chores, and when he's reached a certain goal, we'll head to the store and pick up the toy he earned.

    Haven't had a need yet for TV per se, but can definitely see such a list working for us for tablet use (Kit is addicted to YouTube, lol.) Would have to figure out a way to incorporate both a tablet and toy list as earned privileges though.

  5. Great ideas and a lovely routine. My boys have been great about screen time in the summer because they love outside SO much. The winter is much harder for me. Will try out this system!

  6. I like the list idea. We've been doing something similar, though much less structured. If my kids ask me for screen time I ask them, "What have you done today to make our house a better place?", and if they can't give me a good answer then screen time ain't happening.

  7. I like this idea. I saw something similar on another blog, but I don't recall there being a time limit on the screen time and I wasn't thrilled with that, so I discounted the idea. Silly me, should have just added time restrictions :) We'll have to set up a chart to earn screen time this summer. My child is an only child and when I'm busy it is really easy for him to slip into a screen daze. Thank you.

  8. We often have a problem with screen time when the grand kids visit, thankfully the parents have set rules at home

  9. I think this is a great plan because when I was growing up we didn't have computers, cell phones or video games and we played outside all of the time and for me I did watch a lot of TV but now I wish I'd read a lot more because I've never been very good at concentrating and reading so I'm sure your plan would've helped a lot.

  10. Screen time can be such a battle,I don't have a problem when it's educational but I don't like my kids playing some of the games available


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment- I love reading them! :)
~Heather Lynne

Contact Form


Email *

Message *