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Raising Tech Savvy Kids Who Climb Trees

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:

  1. 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)
  2. Absolutely NO electronics at mealtime. Any meal. This goes for adults too.
  3. Our kids must ask to use their electronics no matter what.
  4. 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.
  5. * 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! 

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8 Responses to Raising Tech Savvy Kids Who Climb Trees

  1. Jenna February 2, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    Oh technology. There are times I feel bad my kids are the only ones that don’t bring an iPad to the sitters but then I shrug it off as a great way for them to learn sharing. We tend to be in the car A LOT with a lot of trips to TN and I refuse to let them have any screen time. No iPads or videos in the car. I pack books for them and we listen to books/songs on the radio, which Spotify is great for that because they have a lot of Disney sing a longs and Disney stories. I love this read!

    • Audrey February 2, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

      I love that your kids read books on car trips! We did too.
      We just got internet (yes, internet!) a year ago. And the kids both got a tablet then too. So they were 8 yrs and 10 yrs before “screen time” limits were even a thing for us.
      Car rides and friends’ houses are almost the only time they play on electronics. They are very conditioned to forget them when they are home.
      I love that!
      Right now, 30 degrees, but both kids and their friends are out playing basketball. Yesterday it was fishing. THIS was what I envisioned when we moved to the country!!

  2. Sandy February 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

    Love your post. Congrats

    • Audrey February 2, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

      Thank you, Sandy!
      I’m new to blogging so this comment is so uplifting 🙂

  3. Carrie Chambers February 2, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

    How do you get past the need to take pictures of everything? For example, if you’re out climbing trees, how do you tell yourself it’s ok not to get a picture!? I feel like we’re so conditioned to document everything now.

    • Audrey February 2, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

      I totally agree with the “conditioned to document” comment!
      I guess my best answer is this:
      I make each of my kids a (digital) scrapbook every year. In making those books, I’ve learned what kinds of photos I have the space (and desire) to actually use. So instead of 35,000 pics every year that sit on my computer, I take 350 and they go in a book. We love these books and look at them together often.
      Also, we are in trees and in the creek SO many times each week that it would be the “same” picture over and over again. I do take my phone occasionally for some of these pictures, don’t get me wrong, but in the whole year of our life, it’s only a few times.

  4. Amber February 2, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

    Great article! Bob and I have always liked your ideas about technology vs “actual” playtime. We’ve tried to follow your example with our kids. We admittedly have *gasp* city-kids, but they LOVE outdoor play!! And luckily they have their country-cousins who are always happy to take them out to play in the mud! 😄

  5. Cheryl Brackemyre February 6, 2017 at 9:40 am #

    Great post! I appreciate the points you make, My first two kiddos are 20 and 16 and they were raised in a much different age of technology than my 3 year old is now. Thank you for sharing, I look forward to implementing some of your ideas!