Is it just me, or do you think it might be harder to be a mom now than it has ever been before?
I mean, we aren’t watching our kids die from the plague like our foremothers, but we seem to have this huge dilemma glaring at us no matter which way we turn: technology! I love technology for obvious reasons. Who doesn’t? And our kids have access to a wonderful world that we waited almost 3 decades for. But the huge downside is we also have kids who are obese because they don’t do anything “real” anymore. Kids who can’t sit at a restaurant without a screen in their face. I don’t like that. I don’t want that for my kids. I want kids who will know how to create a website and write programs and get a technology-based job later, yes, but I want them to want to play outside now. So I’m raising my kids differently.
Here are the rules that my family uses when it comes to electronics:
- Kids may only have screen time if it is dark, raining/too cold to be outside (always after homework) or if we are on a long car ride. Max 1.5 hours. The only exception is at a friend’s house, where I don’t try to regulate anything. (* note on this later)
- Absolutely NO electronics at mealtime. Any meal. This goes for adults too.
- Our kids must ask to use their electronics no matter what.
- Our tv is on for 2 hours or fewer per day. And our Directv is shut off March-August when the weather is beautiful. No Hulu, Roku, Netflix or Amazon Prime streaming into the house. It’s just a box of static for half the year.
- * Friends’ houses. I am very strict with who my kids spend time with. Because of this, I feel confident that my parenting style matches well with the parents of my kids’ friends. If I can’t be sure the other family will monitor their kid’s electronic content as I do mine, well then my kid can’t go to their house. Once at a friend’s house, I let my electronics time limit slide and let my kids binge play if they want. It’s such a limited amount of time in the grand scheme of things and gets the need out of their systems. They also learn the newest games and strategies from peers.
The next part is my family’s key to being successful with outdoor play time.
We give our kids freedom to do crazy, fun things. They are allowed to build fires in our driveway, use axes, climb way too high in a tree and ruin their (play) clothes in pursuit of fun. (I’ve heard European kids do this from a young age!) We leave phones inside and play outside as a family several times per week. Yep, I’m a mom that will chase frogs in the creek. I’ll climb mud mountain. I’ll put a worm on a hook and take a fish off. But, no snakes…
We give our kids freedom to do crazy, fun things.
A back yard where outdoor adventures (big and small) can happen- that’s all you need. Or there are many county parks and rec opportunities around us. But we parents have to be the example. Being there, in the moment, with no technology to interrupt, well that’s the magic. Once you give kids a taste of that magic, the electronics seem to lose their hold and kids will ask for them less. It only gets better from there.
The way to be successful is to make rules that your whole family can follow- so don’t go to an extreme that doesn’t work for you. And once your rules are in place, stick to them!
Good luck implementing your own family rules, and here’s to finding dried worms in your kids’ pockets!