Before I was a parent, I was a firm believer that my children would not watch TV, or at least very little and definitely not until they were at least 2 years old. Needless to say that was not the case once I had my own kids. Any parent knows that we often need Sesame Street entertaining the kids for a while so we can regain some of our sanity back. But you have also most likely read about how terrible too much screen time is for kids. If the balancing act is a struggle for you too, then here are some handy tips on how to manage that screen time for your kiddos.
1. Set The Example
The number one thing is to be a good example for your kiddos. If they see you with your head down scrolling your feed all day, not only will they notice you are not 100% present during your time with them, but they will follow your example. Put down your phone, you can always post that cute photo of your toddler eating spaghetti later.
2. Limit Screen Time To When You Are Home
I know the easiest thing to do when your kid is just a hot second away from a epic meltdown is to pass them your iPhone or tablet with their favorite show. While this will probably help in that moment, you are essentially creating a habit which they will expect each time you are out. Save yourself the fight and hold out on the electronics and try to keep snack and other small activities on hand to offer them instead.
3. Give Clear Instructions
When I tell my 3 year old she can watch ONE show, I make sure to turn it off after one show. I believe when I have given her clear instructions on how much TV she can watch before she starts, she responds a lot better when it’s time to turn it off.
4. Make It An Activity To Do Together
Sometimes this isn’t always possible, but since my toddler has gotten older and can sit (mostly) and watch a whole movie, we make it into a fun activity to do together. We make popcorn, or lunch, snuggle up on the couch and spend time together while we are watching our movie. I love that I can combine something she is interested in while creating sweet memories together. I feel less like the TV is the babysitter and more like we are having special girl time.
5. Pick A Different “Background Noise”
When my daughter was a baby I pretty much has the TV on 24/7 in the background just for “noise” and to keep me sane during the long, and somewhat lonely, days as a new mama. Unfortunately once my daughter got a little bigger, she was watching and taking in a lot more of that TV then I would have liked. Soon came the day that the TV had to be off except for her designated shows. I still like to have some background noise, but instead of the TV I put on play music most days. You could also listen to a podcast or even play audio books, too!
6. Come Up With Alternative Activities
Lets be honest, most of our kids screen time comes when we just have other things that we need to get on with and we need our children to self-entertain for a few minutes. Whether it is picking up a book, or setting your little one down with a busy activity such as these, there are a huge amount of options you can do instead of resorting to more screen time. You might find they start asking for the TV less and less the more fun they are having doing something else.
7. Stick To The Routine
Since my daughter is almost entering pre-school I have found creating a routine for our days has really helped keep us busy and productive and cut waaaaay down on her screen time. We now have designated times when she can watch a show or movie, but it no longer gets in the way of other important tasks and time together. For example, each day we make sure to have outside time, read some books and work on our alphabet and save her screen time for after her nap or while I’m cooking dinner. This routine can be whatever works best for your family. It helps to set boundaries for when your kiddos can expect to indulge in their favorite show and help stop the endless nagging.