We have a confession: we let our kids have too much screen time. I’m not much of a morning person so cartoons it was first thing in the morning. They would watch for 2-3 hours off and on all morning long while I got ready, did some chores, and just had quiet time for myself before we started our crazy day. Then during nap/rest time the girls would play on the tablets for two hours because I needed that time to get done what I felt needed to get done. I’m really ashamed of this, really. I mean, 4-5 hours a day in front of a screen. That is just sad. That isn’t even counting the time in the evening watching t.v. as a family (really we don’t watch much t.v. in the evening if any. So, that’s a plus, I guess).
What have we done about it? We have greatly reduced the amount of screen time they get. They now get a total of two hours of screen time a day (we would like to eventually get that down even lower), but that privilege can be taken away, as Adeline found out, through bad behavior.
How do we track the time they have spent? Each of the girls (Ethan really doesn’t have much screen time to begin with so he doesn’t have one) has a tiny cup with four clear glass pebbles (the kind you find at a craft store). Those ‘gems’ are each worth 30 minutes. When they want to play on their tablets or watch cartoons they ask us, then they take a ‘gem’ out and either Brian or I will set a timer for 30 minutes.
I would say the first day of really cutting back on screen time was by far the hardest day. After that first day they have done great. Other than the constant boredom they now seem to face we have noticed a difference in our Adeline. She sleeps at night! She was always coming into our room, climbing into our bed every night. If you have ever slept with a toddler, preschooler, or any kid for that matter than you know that we have lacked sleep for a long time. There was no putting her back in her own bed because she would come right back over and over again every night. There was no way to keep her in her own bed. She now sleeps all night long in her own bed! I have actually gotten sleep! It has been such a wonderful feeling.
With Adeline getting a full nights sleep it mean less melt downs and tantrums. In the end we all win. I tell you these things because I want you all to know that we are not perfect parents. There is no such thing. I know in pictures and in words we can make it appear that everything is wonderful and we got it all together. We don’t! No one does. My reminder is that we are two imperfect people raising three imperfect people. This parenting thing is tough and I think we need to stop pretending it isn’t. We need to build each other up, not tear down. We need to stop comparing and start encouraging. I also say these things not to pass judgement on others, but to let known what we have found to benefit our youngest daughter.