How Our Family Does Screen Time

by - 9:00:00 AM

When our parenting adventure began we had lots of goals, including not letting technology play a huge role in Alexis's childhood. I think most any parent in this day and age would agree that's easier said than done. Technology is unavoidable; it's everywhere. So instead of a no-tech policy, we've opted for a smarter approach.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than an hour of screen time per day for children ages 2-5. In a perfect world, that would be easy. In a technology-driven world, not so much. Limiting screen time to one hour a day is a daunting, if not impossible task, so I've chosen to focus instead on limiting non-productive screen time and incorporating more screen-free activities into our days.

When both parents work, it's very easy to fall into a routine of grabbing something to eat on the way home and then eating in the living room instead of at the table. I'm speaking from experience.

Alexis's grandparents bought her a small table, at our request. It was originally intended to be put upstairs in our play room/office, but ended up staying in the living room for months. It was convenient for snack time, coloring, and other activities. What ended up happening, though, was at every meal time, Alexis wanted to sit at her table and watch t.v. So, about a month ago we moved the table upstairs.

Now, most nights we eat dinner at the kitchen table with the t.v. turned off. Some nights, when it's just her and me, we'll get out the t.v. trays and eat while watching Tinker Bell, but I try to keep that to a minimum so it doesn't become the norm.

I'm also trying to only have the television on when someone is actually watching it, instead of it just being background noise. When the t.v. is on, Alexis is less likely to play independently. She's only 3, but like some teenagers she can turn into a zombie, not responding when I talk to her and just being generally oblivious to anything happening outside of the screen.

Generally, I'm trying to only have the television on when we're getting ready in the morning (let's face it -- things go much faster if Alexis is watching Little Einsteins than if she's "helping" with my makeup) and after dinner. I encourage independent play either in her room or the play room. We play with chalk on the front porch, swing in the backyard, color and read. She even helps do simple chores around the house.

I'm also trying to be a better tech role model. I generally have my phone with me wherever I go, but I am making a conscious effort to look at it less often. I'll leave it in the other room when we're eating at home or in my bag when we're out. I've also been trying to mix up my reading with more printed versions of books and magazines. Alexis can't tell the difference between reading on my Kindle and playing a game. To her, it's all the same.

I'm curious to know how all you other mama's and daddy's out there handle screen time. Let me know in the comment section!

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