I have a love/hate relationship with electronics whether it comes to my own life or in dealing with electronics in the lives of my kids. Kids, summer, free time, electronics…this could be a recipe for a genuine loss of sanity for some parents. In my mind, kids and screens can live together. But, when screens & electronics are a source of stress and fighting, something has to give (& it shouldn’t be the relationship).
Let’s face it, summer generally means that our kids have more time on their hands. They have a more relaxed schedule. And, they are missing much of the routine that the school year demands. While all of these things can be good, they can also try the patience of most parents.
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In my own life and in talking with other moms, I know that electronics can play a big role in the amount of stress we experience as moms. Primarily this is because kids tend to spend more time on electronics than we as their moms would like. For this reason, summer can play with the sanity of moms everywhere.
Here’s how I feel about kids & screens
In our home, we don’t allow our kids to have unlimited use of electronics whether during the school year or during the summer. For the most part, they are very limited on what electronics they own and how, where, and when these electronics are used.
Call me old fashioned, but I just really don’t like electronics all that much for kids. This is especially true for older kids in my mind. These are the kids who should be filling their time with productive things. These older kids should also be learning to be effective keepers of their time. Electronics make it very hard for the older kids in my house to be effective keepers of their time.
Do you find this, too?
If so, keep reading since I’ve got a few ideas that have worked well for me in years past.
Even if you don’t feel this same way about kids & electronics, it often comes down to staying sane.
The biggest piece to my sanity keeping strategy is being proactive in how electronics are managed. If you know me at all, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that it starts with a plan. Being proactive is all about the plan in nearly every instance.
These are the things I find helps to stop fighting with kids about their screens.
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1. Pay your kids to keep their screens turned off
This is perhaps the most extreme, but it worked for me when I was a kid. When I was growing up, I wasn’t handed many of the things that I wanted. I had to work for them. So, when my mom offered to pay me cold, hard cash to keep the tv off all summer, I jumped at it. I had a job. But when she offered me cash, it was all that much closer I was to the things I wanted without having to work very hard.
This method works well with kids who are busy. I was quite busy so it was relatively easy for me to give up electronics. I also have a daughter who is very busy and motivated by money as I was. This makes her the perfect candidate for this method as well.
You will need to decide on the amount that works for you and your family. But, you will have to make it enticing enough for your kids to even consider it. I find $200 to be a fair amount, but you can decide for yourself what works.
2. Withhold the wifi password
At least until responsibilities and other activities are done to your satisfaction.
This takes a bit of effort as you have to change the password every day. But, the idea is that your kids will be offline until their efforts have received your approval. Your approval earns them the password for the day. Of course this is assuming you are dealing with electronics that require wifi. However, you can modify this by taking the controller or something like that for game systems and things like that. It’s nothing more than an exchange. Your child does x, y, and z, and then they receive their electronic access.
3. Put your own passcode on your kids electronics
This example works very similarly to the one above, but it saves you the hassle of having to change the internet password. With your approval in regards to whatever you choose, you unlock their device. Simple, straightforward, and a real sanity saver.
4. Let your kids earn more screen time through work
Limit your kids time on electronics more than normal and allow them to earn more time through work.
In this situation your kids would get a limited amount of time as a given, but they can always earn more time. They can do this by helping out the family by performing a variety of tasks that need to be done. These could be things like washing the car, cleaning the fridge, or washing windows among many other things.
You decide, but I like to pick the jobs I don’t like or that I don’t ever find time to do.
Your kids can decide if they want only minimal time, which is good for us as moms. But should they choose to earn more time, it is also a winning situation for us since they have taken some of the tasks off our lists.
5. Let your kids earn more screen time through physical activity
Limit their time on electronics while allowing them to earn more through physical activity.
This is especially effective for younger kids. If they want time on their electronic device, they need to get outside and move. If you live in a hot climate, they will need to plan a bit more so they are able to be outside when it isn’t the heat of the day. They can also burn off some energy swimming, washing the car, or doing something else that is active and dealing with water. I love a nice clean and washed garage floor 🙂
These five methods have all worked well for me with different kids at different times. Kids spending too much time on electronics drives me crazy, which is why I am willing to put forth some effort in proactively coming up with some alternatives.
If you are looking for a balance with your kids when it comes to electronics and more free time in the summer, try one of these methods. Hopefully, you’ll keep a bit more of your sanity as well!
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