Peace, Love & Screen-time : Screen Tips for Winter Vacation
The holidays are a great time for bonding with family and catching up with friends. But all that free time can also lead to three weeks of constant battles over screen time. Whether you’re going out of town or staying home this holiday season, screen time battles are bound to erupt. Let’s look at a few ways to curb the tantrums and bring peace to your home this holiday season.
Stay at Home Vacations: If kids have a lot of free time during the weeks of vacation you’ll have to manage screen time effectively so that it doesn’t take over. Sit with your kids (if they’re old enough) and come up with a plan before the break. Some things to consider: Will you need some time to get things done? Will your kids need some downtime after long days of family outings and playdates? Consider how much screen time they can have each day and at what time of day they can have it. Do they need to complete any chores, homework, practice before screen time? Put all the rules in the plan and be clear that these rules are for vacation time only, after vacation you go back to your regular screen time regimen. Be sure to have plenty of screen-free activities lined up for your kids to enjoy.
Destination Vacations: Take a few moments ahead of time to decide what you want this vacation to look like and how screens fit into the picture. Maybe screens are allowed on long plane rides or car rides and that’s it. Maybe you allow screens for ½ hour before you go out for the day or an hour at the end of a long day before dinner. Maybe you’d like your vacation to be 100% screen-free! Then, before leaving, sit down with your kids and come up with a plan. Whatever you decide, make sure to factor in your own screen use as well and stick to the plan. Write it down as a pledge or contract and have everyone sign it.
Large Family Gatherings: Family gatherings can be tricky when it comes to screen use. Maybe there are cousins with much more relaxed screen time rules than your family has - or you may be more relaxed than them. There is also the question of age appropriate content. Usually family gatherings includes kids of various ages and the little ones can end up exposed to games or images that they’re not ready for. If it’s comfortable for you, I’d suggest talking with the other parents before the gathering and coming up with some basic rules (eg. how much time, what type of content etc.). You will also want to have plenty of screen-free activities lined up. Board games, outdoor play, arts and crafts and cooking are all great choices. For older kids who already have their own phone you’ll want to have a conversation in advance about proper etiquette. Come up with some limits that feel appropriate (no texting or game playing while hanging out with family or at the table). Consider allowing your child a few 15 min breaks to check in with their friends if they feel like they need a break from the family, and at other times keep the phone in a handbag or charging station - not in the pocket.
Playing With Screens in a New Way: Stay at home vacations can provide a great opportunity for you to bond with your kids through screen time. A few things to try: Get a stop motion App and make cool movies with toys, take a walk at night and use a stargazing App to find constellations, use a collage App to make cool art together, play some fun video games together that are collaborative, or just make some popcorn and enjoy family movie night.
However you spend your winter vacation, remember to take time to put your own device away, stay present and enjoy these precious moments with your family. Wishing you and your family a peaceful holiday season!