I can’t be the only mom looking forward to the start of the school year. Not to get rid of my kids or because I don’t enjoy them being around, but because I crave the schedule and consistency that school days bring, that everyone responds to so very well.
Summer has been an unscheduled mess of running errands with kids in tow, late dinners, play dates, making plans around the crazy weather, and more screen time than I care to admit I have allowed! Don’t get me wrong, they are a different generation than we are that is centred around technology, and they certainly should be comfortable with these kind of devices if they want to be successful in the future, but everything in moderation.
Last year before school when we went for our yearly eye check up, the eye Doctor actually told me that my girls eyes are starting to grow straight, which can still be corrected at this age, but their eyes are supposed to develop slightly outward – he immediately asked how much iPad time I normally allow them. I didn’t think it was that much, as I am constantly telling them to go play, no more screen time, etc – but when I really started paying attention to it, I realized that they’re on those screens a lot more than I thought. From Minecraft to Netflix to YouTube videos of grown adults playing with toys – the uses are endless and can keep them occupied all day long! Since my kids don’t really watch TV, I let it slip quite a bit in replacement of that. The Doctor advised more TV and less iPads for the best development of their eyes, if screens are wanted/needed.
This created a whole new problem. With an 8 and 9 year old who are fully capable of keeping their iPads charged, packing them for road trips and visits at Grandma’s, etc, and a needy & distracting toddler added to the mix, its been hard to stick to my original plan of “1 hour of screens a day.” To top it off, when I do realize its been a little longer (or a lot), the girls get upset when they are asked to turn them off. They are in the middle of a video or game, and its always “just a few more minutes, please!” – which turns into pouting, and they miss a part of their day that could be filled with play, because they are upset that they did not get to finish what they were doing. Screen addiction is a very real thing, and a discussion for another time, but for now we had to find a way to keep the girls healthy and happy without taking their beloved iPads away for good.
We came up with schedules, which I cannot wait to start once they are in school. The schedules include “free time/screen time” so they don’t feel that they HAVE TO go on the screens at this time, they can do other things in this time if they want to (like between being ready for school in the morning and the time we actually have to leave the house for school). The scheduling allowed me to not only set a healthy limit on screen times per day, but also lets the kids know beforehand exactly what time they are to be off of them and go do something else, which removes the element of surprise that creates the little attitudes that give us a taste of what is coming in the teenage years!
Children respond really well to consistency. It took me an hour or so, but I put together Monday to Friday schedules for the kids that include their extra curricular activities for the week for the fall as well, and we have them hung on a little cork board in our kitchen, so the girls can see what is going on that day with no surprises, and when screen time is allowed. It also gives them responsibilities to take care of and screen time is allowed only when these daily necessities have been taken care of – and if they doddle, it cuts into their screen time – the motivation of keeping the schedule also keeps me from having to nag & remind them to do what they need to, and keeps the household running smoothly through the chaos that raising a family brings.
I highly recommend scheduling that the kids are fully aware of. I am including below an example of our Monday routine, I am so excited to get started! (Of course it can be adjusted to age appropriate activities/bedtimes, etc)
7:20 – wake up! Dress for the weather, including socks! Brush your hair/teeth, wash your face
-pack a healthy lunch (ask for help from mom if needed), put it in your backpack
-Free time when you are done!
8:10 – leave the house for school
3:30-4:00 – Screen time or free time
4:00 – Homework, eat a small healthy snack
4:30 – Maya gets changed for gymnastics
4:45 – leave the house to drive Maya to her class, 6PM pick up
6:30 – Dinner, help clear off the table, do 1 small chore (hanging up jackets, helping load the dishwasher, etc)
7:30 – bath/shower, brush your hair
8:00-8:30 – screen time or free time if showers are done
8:30-9:00 – Brush your teeth, read in bed
9:00 – Bed Time!
The girls are excited for the schedule as well. This way, they know what is coming each day, and what is expected of them. It also limits the screen time significantly from the slack that Summer has brought the house, hopefully improving their development, imaginations, and moods!
Good luck to all of the moms with the new changes every year brings, whichever way you choose to keep everything running smoothly, I hope for you that it works for you and your little ones!
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