“What are you guys doing this summer?” was the question of the weekend. Of course, we discussed everyone’s family vacation plans, the end-of-season soccer party, summer sports camps, and visits to Knott’s Berry Farm. It was the hours of free time the kids are going to have between these planned activities that triggered our most thoughtful discussions, though. How are we going to help fill the kids’ free time with activities and play that eliminate the need for electronics without intruding too much on their time to “be a kid”?
How is that done? Is going completely “black” the answer? Is one hour too little time? Too much? Do they need any? How will they contact their friends? What if I want them to have their phone, so I can get in touch with them? How can I both set a boundary and set a good example at the same time when staying off my phone is just as hard for me as staying off of theirs is for them?
These are tough questions and the questions that got me into trouble last summer when I gave into my kids’ demands only 10 days into the summer. A “blackout” is hard -- for everyone!
This week I thought I’d share a great idea I saw one afternoon (while wasting time on Facebook). Because we’re all so attached to our screens, this proposed solution felt like a great compromise for my family. My kids are in middle and high school, so my rules may be more or less lenient than you’d like, but, nevertheless, this tip helped me envision what I wanted to accomplish and empowered me to create my own set of “Summer Rules.”
My rules are modified from those that I saw that one afternoon, but the brevity, simplicity and direct approach from the sample was what I worked to emulate. I organized my categories by what I want from my own kids, knowing their challenges and propensities, and I encourage you to organize yours by your needs. I’ll share just a taste of our family rules, but know that the full rules have been shared with our kids, printed and posted on the refrigerator.
My hope is that something similar ends up on yours if you’re so inspired. Here goes.
“Summer Rules for Screen Time”
You may earn up to two hours on the computer, your phone/iPad, or TV, as long as all of these requirements have been completed to parental satisfaction. Once completed, you are free to manage your screen time as you see fit.
Health and Hygiene: (1) make your bed, (2) brush your teeth, (3) take a shower, (4) make and eat a healthy breakfast
Academics: (1) read for 45 minutes from a book of your choice
Creativity: (1) make or build something -- Erector set, write a letter to grandparent, bake, woodwork, paint/color, do a puzzle, tinker in the garage, etc
Contribution to the Family: (1) clean one assigned room, (2) ask to help someone with a task, (3) take care of one dog duty
Playtime Outside: (1) ride your bike to the park, take a short run, play with a friend, swim in the pool, play at the beach, go surfing, etc
Note: All electronics are turned in to mom or dad before going to bed.
My hope is for you to enjoy your summer in an old-fashioned way. My hope for you is to be active and nurture friendships. My hope for you is to build memories.
This summer you are not going to spend all your time watching someone else’s life. You’re going to create your own.
God, help us all.