The end of the school year is always a bittersweet time. The kids are growing up and time is flying by faster than I can imagine. Mornings are less rushed and jammies stay on longer. We spend our days by the pool and generally do what we please. Routines change course and we need to adjust being home all together for a couple months.
It’s a time for summer swim team, sports camps and vacations. This summer, our oldest is going to sleep away came and another is trying his hand at tennis. Amidst all the fun is a lot of downtime where the boredom sets in.
It Is Time To Set Screen Time Limits
As a family, we have become fairly lax about screen time and having an open kitchen to boot. My fear is that we have created habits blocking our kids from using their brains and exploring creative outlets.
If we let them, they would stay on their devices all day until the batteries die. They would then make the switch to the TV or computer. I’m all for a little relaxing time but when it becomes your whole day then I know we have a problem.
As for the open kitchen factor, my younger kids are grazers and do not eat huge meals. Therefore, I let them snack a little more during the day. It’s not a big deal when the older kids are at school, but with everyone home during the summer rules will be stricter.
Although times were different when I was a kid, I see we are headed down the road of similar bad habits that as an adult I am having to break. It seems like every summer I say I am going to nip their habits in the bud, but I get lazy. The screens become a crutch and I allow myself to take the easy route of letting them become engulfed. With all good intentions I try, but their whining seems to win over.
This Summer Will Be Different
I am taking a different approach. Instead of focusing on the how of cutting back on screen time and closing the kitchen, I am going to take note of my attitude.
This challenge is all on me and staying strong willed, coming from a place of love and LOTS OF PATIENCE. My guard comes down when I too, want some alone time to rest for a bit. In those moments, I have to be okay with setting a timer for not only them but myself. Our introverted sides will get a reset alone to zone out for a bit. Then it becomes my responsibility to put all devices and remotes away when the alarm goes off.
Practice Before The Big Day
Last night after dinner, we did a trial run. While they were outside playing, I moved their Kindles and phones to a different drawer, hid the TV remote under a pillow and put the computer mice out of sight.
For a while, no one noticed. They were playing together but when the fighting ensued, that’s when they started asking for the internet. Their coping mechanisms are to shut down and zone out. I actually had to send two children to their rooms because they were getting out of control.
During our testing period, some children will go to their rooms to find something to do, some will get creative and others will be confused. The majority of our kids didn’t care about electronics when mom and dad were present. So not only is this going to be good for the kids, but it will keep me off my phone as well.
Long Term Healthy Habits
The goal of this plan is to create healthy habits this summer that will filter into the school year. I remember the summers when all I did was watch movies and snack were the ones I gained weight, creating a lifetime of unhealthy choices. The ones where I stayed active, always at the pool or outside with my friends were the best summers. I don’t even remember the times when we got bored (I’m sure there were a lot).
I can see my kids headed down the same path if I don’t step in, to do something that will be hard for them now. In the long run, this change could be the catalyst to keeping them away from addictive behaviors that could possibly turn into to something worse.
There might be tears, screams, lots of I hate you, and yes, fall backs but as long as I wake up with intention each morning this will be a success. Every day, I will evaluate the previous day to see where we faltered and then make adjustments accordingly. The key is to being strong and persistent.
SIDE NOTE: This is my summer challenge. I will most definitely be documenting this one because I need a fist bump of solidarity from other parents. Plus, I need to stay accountable for this to truly work. This is huge and ultimately life changing as was my social media break. Day one begins on the first day of summer break, so check back then for our updates.
Also, if you are doing something similar, please let me know so we can keep each other accountable and sane!