If you spend any amount of time in a group of moms, you’ll hear it: Someone making excuses, apologizing, or cringing at the amount of time her kids spend in front of screens.
“Ug! I am the worst. The kids spent 2 hours in front of the TV yesterday morning while I cleaned!”
“Well, at least the app is educational. That counts for something, right?”
“I don’t let them play all day, but 30 minutes on the ipad just gives me a little peace during the afternoon, you know what I mean?”
The amount of screen time allowed each day is a hot topic for all moms.
How much is too much?
How young is too young? (and they’ve changed those “rules” lately…go figure!)
Am I a bad mom for allowing screen time every day for 30 minutes…2 hours…4 hours (or more? I mean, really, we’ve all been there, right?)?
And…how much is too much?
I’ve been a mom for 9 years and I’m mostly at peace with my kids’ screen time.
We have a few loose rules:
They can watch TV in the mornings but it goes off by 10am.
No screens during meal times (but we do listen to music).
My 3rd grade twins are allowed to play on the ipad or computer for 30 (ish) minutes after school.
Sometimes they are allowed to watch Netflix after dinner, depending on how tired their parents are.
Weekends are kind of a free-for-all, but marathon Angry Bird sessions for my twins (while my two little ones are napping on weekend afternoons) keep me sane.
We probably have more screen time than a lot of families but, like I said, I’m mostly at peace with it.
I strive for balance.
We play outside most mornings for a good two hours.
Our boys do chores every day (thank you, ipad incentive!).
We eat as a family sans screens every night.
We do other activities together like reading, playing chess, soccer, and bike riding.
Our kids go to bed by 8pm.
You know, balance.
The screen time angst I’ve been feeling lately though has been about MY screen time.
Sure, I regulate my kids and strive for balance, but I’ve been wondering, “What does balance look like for me? How much screen time is too much…for me?”
Unlike my kids, I use screens for a lot more things than fun and entertainment.
Like most 21st century American moms, my computer is my go-to for research, recipes, meal planning, paying bills, keeping up with out-of-state family, communicating with friends, plus having fun on social media.
My two blogs, emailing, and freelance editing require daily time on the computer as well.
One of my favorite ways to relax is to scroll through Facebook or other social media. In fact, I often find myself reaching for my phone in chaotic moments, itching for a little zone-out time. Sometimes a 60 second break (and some deep breaths) are enough to reset a stressful moment.
But I wonder and worry about balance.
I wonder why I feel the need to escape my life (the real world) into social media (the virtual world) so often.
I worry that I’m not setting a good example for my kids when they see my on my computer or phone so often.
Am I practicing what I preach to my boys about screen-time balance?
Honestly, I love screen time. I love blogging, connecting with people online; I love Facebook, doing research, and the occasional show on Netflix (while I’m folding laundry, of course! I’m not lazy, I promise!).
But I don’t want to love it too much, and lately, I’ve been feeling that inner nudge to examine what screen-time balance looks like in my own life.
I believe that conviction is always an opportunity to say “Yes” to something better, not just “No” whatever the bad habit is.
I struggle most in the evening hours when I’m tired and in need of a mental and physical break, but zoning out on my computer or phone every night isn’t healthy for me or my relationships.
So lately, I’ve been swapping screen time for better choices in my life, just like I encourage my boys to do.
I’ve started crocheting in the evenings, rather than scrolling mindlessly through Facebook. It keeps my hands busy, doesn’t require a lot of mental effort, and allows me to make something fun and useful.
I try to spend at least 30 minutes reading before bed. If I’ve been on my computer or phone after the kids go to bed, the reading time allows me to “detox” my brain (mostly due to the light of the screens) and helps me to fall asleep faster. Plus, I love reading so this is a win-win.
Finally, I’ve been striving to say “No” to staying up late to read articles online or play on Facebook. My husband is usually ready for bed before I am, and, as much as I love a quiet dark living room to zone out online for as long as I like, I’ve been trying to shut everything down and go to bed at the same time as Aaron.
I’m resisting the urge to continue and choosing to spend time with my husband, even if we are just quietly reading in bed together before we go to sleep.
I don’t think I am nailing balance in my screen time. I mean, really, I am currently blogging on my computer while a mountain of laundry sits beside me, begging to be folded.
But balance is about saying “yes” in turn and blogging during nap time is exactly the right “yes” I need in my life at this moment.
And then I need to say “yes” to laundry.
It’s all about balance, right?
What about you? How do you find screen time balance in your life for kids and for YOU?
How do you say “Yes” to good things in order to develop new and better habits for your routines and relationships?
Share your thoughts below!