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Thursday
Aug162012

How to easily manage screen time

"The iPad never causes problems in my house!" said no mom ever...certainly never me.

Due to the recent influx of awesome iPad apps in my home, iPad usage had become a bit of a problem. Griffin wanted to use it all the time and I did NOT want him to use it all the time. Conflict! More importantly, I didn't want to spend so much mental energy determining how much iPad he had already watched and if he should be allowed to watch more. I was over it.

So, I did what every good mother does. I went to Pinterest! I had seen screen time tickets and I loved these tokens. However, I didn't want to have to constantly be printing more tickets and I thought Amos would definitely put those tokens straight in his mouth. That baby LOVES a choking hazard. There were some other VERY crafty options but I didn't really want to spend my entire afternoon and $20 at Michael's creating the cutest screen management system known to man. I just wanted my kid to stop watching fifty hours of iPad a day!

My criteria were simple:

  • I wanted to make it with stuff I already had.
  • I wanted Griffin to have a very visual reminder of how much time he had left on the iPad/iPhone/TV.
  • I'm lazy and didn't want to have to do all the managing myself.

TA DA! This is what I came up with:

I took my circle punch and some craft paper I had on hand and punched four circles. I stuck on some numbers I already had but you could just as easily write the numbers. Then, I took a length of orange ribbon and tied it around the panels of the louvered door to my pantry, which is centrally located. Voila!

Each clothespin represents about 20-25 minute of viewing, which is the length on one show (except Sesame Street which is hella long). When Griffin wants to use the iPad, he goes and gets a clothespin off the door and brings it to me. I clip the clothespin on the egg timer and set it for 20ish minutes.

When the timer goes off, so does the iPad - unless he'd like to use another clothespin. 

Here's the BEST PART. Griffin now has a very visual representation of his "currency." A good friend of mine told me her mom (a mother of four) once told her the key to parenting is finding your child's currency - what matters to them/what motivates them - and making sure they understand you control that currency. Could be keys to a car or iPad usage - either way they know you will take it away. 

Now, Griffin has a real currency. His currency is clothespins. We've recently had trouble again with him getting out of bed at naptime and in the evening. The first night after the clothespin system was instituted and institued successfully. I informed Griffin that little boys who didn't sleep would be too tired to watch the iPad the next day. Therefore, every time he got out of bed (unless it was to go to the potty or get a drink of water) he would have to hand me a clothespin from the next day's allotment. 

Two days of waking up to no clothespins and Griffin hasn't gotten out of bed for naps or at night in almost two weeks.

No yelling, no threatening. A simple system that keeps me from being the iPad bad guy AND motivates a child to go to bed at bedtime. That is how I define parenting success! 

How do you manage screen time in your home?

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

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