There are battles that I fight EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. as a mother. I wage a war against the mountain of laundry that never diminishes no matter how often I wash a load, my internal poll weighing the benefits of going to bed or crossing chores off my to-do list…and don’t even get me started on the internal struggle I have with mom guilt. But I have a story of success I want to tell you about—how I won the battle over screen time. Yes, that’s right. MAMA WON. And so did my son. How? Through a screen time contract that worked for BOTH of us. Even better? It’s so simple to create and it will result in one less battle we warrior mamas deal with. Here’s How to Create a Screen Time Contract:
First off, Keep the Language Simple
When your contract is simple and straightforward, there will be less confusion and your child will have less to argue about. Use terminology that he/she is comfortable with and details that make sense to them. Using numbers (eg: Step One, Step Two) or bullet points will help your child navigate the screen time contract’s schedule.
As a parent, we have pretty high expectations for our kids. But keeping them to a crazy high standard at all times will lead them to fail—just like what would happen to us. So include a few requirements that are easy to do and don’t typically cause whining and pouting. For us, those responsibilities are things like making the bed, setting the table for dinner, etc.
Your contract shouldn’t be punishment or a form of negative reinforcement. Instead, it should be an agreement that works for both you and your child and leaves both of you content. So while you might put some household responsibilities in the contract, use the contract as an opportunity for positive behavior. If you have to have a “No Whining Clause” for once screen time is up, so be it. Remember that the goal is to have your child enjoy his/her screen time while also being a positive and helpful member of the family.
While your child could spend HOURS staring at a screen, it wastes a TON of time when they are attending a full day of school. Between homework, extra curricular activities, meals, and family time, there shouldn’t be much time leftover. For my first grader, we found that 35 minutes of daily screen time is perfect—he asked for 45 and I said 30 so we negotiated and are both extremely pleased.
Stock Up on Screen Free Toys
It’s no surprise that kids are so into screens because they get bored with toys. So stock up on some SMART toys that encourage them to think a bit more than a typical toy would. Some of our favorites? Magformerplay sets. They aren’t just magnetic blocks. Instead, they are magnetic blocks and other building toys so that the child can create over 50 different creations using the same pieces. Another hit in our house? The smART Art Sketcher by Flycatcher. You can upload your own personal photos or use the images already in the artistic gadget to learn how to draw the image using step-by-step instruction. The fun is endless!
One last tip: Make sure that the device is fully charged and use a timer to keep track of screen time. That way you won’t even have to say anything once the alarm goes off. Your child will simply unplug for the day.
For other mom hacks, check out this page.
Good luck with your contract!
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