Mummy vacation care
Just a quick post today. I’m short on time now it is school holidays but I have been dwelling on Friday’s post about children and creativity and what to do with them through the holidays. Now I am working from home, they do not need to go to vacation care programs. I am the vacation care program! But I am in competition with their screens. The lure of screens seems to be stronger than anything else.
Too much screen time
My children use their screens too much. They watch television too much. I guess “too much” differs from person to person, family to family but I am not happy about the amount of time my children are on their screens. I can get them to turn them off but I have trouble keeping them off them. They might start on another activity but as soon as they get bored of that, they will turn on a screen again – it is their default position. It doesn’t seem to matter what limits we try to put in place. We always experience “limit creep” because, unless we continually monitor what they are doing, they take any opportunity to turn them on again. They do not seem to be able to self regulate their screen time – but perhaps that is an unrealistic expectation!
However, I want my children to be active and creative and the screens definitely get in the way of that, especially for the boys, my younger two. During the school term, there is built-in creativity and activity but they would happily turn into sloths during the holidays. I’m not against a bit of slothing around – down time is important and having a break from the hustle and bustle of the school term is good for them. I just don’t want them to sit idle on screens the entire time!
A couple of years ago, I made a snap decision in a moment of frustration to institute a screen-free month in our house. The kids had to surrender their various screens and TV was not allowed. My husband and I had to join in too so we only used our screens for work purposes. I wasn’t allowed on Facebook, we didn’t watch TV or movies ourselves. I was shocked at how successful it was. The kids, after the initial adjustment, did not ask for their screens – at all! They managed to find other ways to entertain themselves. To my surprise it was also really peaceful because they were not at me all the time wanting to know when they could turn their screens on again. There was so much less of the “I’m bored”s as well.
At the end of the month I marked it down as a great success – to begin with. The trouble was the lessons I hoped they (or in fact all of us) had learned did not stick. I thought things might be different after our screen-free month, from how they were before. I thought the kids might have ignited new interests, developed an ability to keep themselves occupied screen-free and have a bank of activities to draw on when their screen-time was exhausted. But no. As soon as screens were allowed again, everything went back to just as it was before. We were back to arguing about how much time they were allowed, what time they could turn their iPods on again, and that “he has had more time than me”. And we had a return of the “I’m bored”s! They instantly lost touch with their ability to entertain themselves.
And so, here we are today – still struggling to find a balance between technology and other forms of entertainment. Never more so than in the school holidays.
Mission creativity and activity
So it is mission creativity and activity at our house! I am not very well having picked up a bit of a cold late last week so, with my energy levels low, I’m not going to be too overzealous about it but I will let you know how we get on. There will be plenty of screen-time but balanced with screen-free activities.
The mission has started pretty well. Yesterday we had a new fridge delivered and I asked the delivery guys to leave the box. It seems boxes have still not lost their attraction – especially not a fridge sized one! The boys have had some fun creating a Nerf Gun bunker. We’ve also prepared patterns for our soft toy sewing project from Friday’s post. There was Lego building and a trip to the library. Plus homework and dancing practice for my big girl.
Today we have a trip to the park planned with another family. What are you up to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on keeping kids busy (and off screens) in the holidays.