Last week, after my post on the Youtube Kids Controversy, I received a few requests on social media for Tips on How to Wean Kids Off of Screens. Resetting after too much screentime can be hard – for adults or kids. They have formed a rewarding habit and they don’t quite understand why you’re taking away something they enjoy.
However, over time and with a few fun activities to show them how good life without screens can be, you’ll find the kids asking for screens less and less – and maybe even not missing them at all!
7 Ways to Reset After Too Much Screen Time
During the early stages of development, it is absolutely crucial for young children to engage with the world around them and focus on relationships, absorbing sensory information, and building those gross and fine motor skills that effect so much of their development.
The blue-light exposure from excessive screen time can cause digital eyestrain and have a potentially negative affect on your tot’s sleeping patterns, brain function, cognitive and speech development. Not to mention the postural issues and possible poor behaviors that kids can exhibit after too much screen time.
The number of young children using smart devices and watching television as a primary form of entertainment is ever climbing and beginning so early on!
The disengagement that occurs from having too much screen time – even if it’s “educational” – has more cons than it does pros. So, what do we do? We reset! Below I’ve listed some ways that you and your family can disengage from screens, refresh and reconnect – and most importantly, these strategies involve the whole family and are not purely for the kids.
How to Reset After too Much Screen Time
TAKE A HIATUS
Yup, cold turkey. Studies show that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so taking 21 days to break one is a swell idea to help one reset from screen time too.
And perhaps this shouldn’t just be a rule the kids follow. I know, I know, you need your cell phone, right? But, do you really need to access all of those apps…during all hours of the day?
If 21 days is too high of a standard, might I suggest tweaking your family’s usage guidelines for a complete gradual lifestyle change.
Incorporating simple rules like no screen time during dinner, or setting a kitchen timer to monitor the length of usage could really improve the family’s engagement with one another, while getting a much-needed break from the screen. Remove the televisions from the bedrooms, and if you’re really brave enough – cut the cable on the tv in the common area altogether!
Bust out the puzzles and board games and have a game night! Get out of the house and Yelp your favorite park! Plan a fun little scavenger hunt that leads to the next adventure. Trade in that blue light for a little sunlight, my friend!
With the help of many resources such as Pinterest and YouTube (or even this site!), you’re sure to find some great ideas to create a fun crafty corner for the kiddos.
Pipe cleaners, construction paper, popsicle sticks, funky tape, paint, markers, wacky scissors, stickers, storage bins…you naaame it! There are plenty of items that you can add to the mix – most of which can be purchased from your local dollar store. And ahem…who said crafts were just for the kids? Engaging with your own crafts at the same time can help the kids really engage and feel connected.
If you’re not a natural crafter, start small. Maybe start on a long overdue family scrapbook? Adopt a new hobby like knitting or crochet, or you can even DIY something to keep your home organized.
Fix something around the house; like that squeaking door in desperate need of some WD-40 or that loose kitchen drawer handle that everybody’s been complaining about since the holidays. Refurnish that book shelf! Surprise a friend with a good old fashioned handwritten letter. Get creative while you reset, devoting quality time to those you cherish most!
VOLUNTEER AND/OR DONATE
Nothing puts things in perspective like helping the less fortunate and realizing how blessed you really are.
Volunteer as a family to feed the homeless, be a big brother or sister, or pick up trash in the community. Sort through old clothes and toys to donate to a local charity. You’d be surprised how quickly your attitude can shift to one of gratitude. While we reset from our luxurious screens, there are people out there longing for the simple necessities of life.
READ A BOOK
When’s the last time you read a book that wasn’t half-full of pictures?
We all know the importance of reading with our kids, but so many us don’t take the time to foster our own love of reading after having children. Seeing their parents engage with literacy is great encouragement for kids – not to mention, it’s a proven stress relief!
Family reading time is a great way to relax and spend time together, and can involve a mixture of reading to the kids and encouraging independent reading (which might just involve looking at the pictures.)
Tired of being cooped up in the house? Go to the library or take your book to the park and people watch in between pages. Grab some audio books and listen along in the car.
COOK AND/OR BAKE TOGETHER
Everyone has to eat, so why not everyone cook or bake together! Depending on the size of your family, you can turn this into a fun competition or a special way to connect one-on-one with your children.
Take it to another level by creating dishes with only ingredients you have on hand. Not interested in cooking an entire meal? Invite the neighbors over for a community potluck. You won’t miss the screen because you’ll be too busy spending time catching up!
TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS
Literally. When’s the last time man’s best friend did more than sit and lay down on command in your household?
Pull out your inner dog whisperer and train your dog to do something new that will benefit or entertain the whole family. While you’re at it, take him for a walk and bathe him too! After all, you’ve got time!
(And if you don’t have a dog, why not look into a small pet the whole family can chip in with, or small individual pets. Even a goldfish is a great start – or you can be more adventurous with a hamster or gecco.)
ORGANIZE THE PLAYROOM (or the closets)
This one goes hand in hand with donating.
You might want to start small with this one, but if the kids are really going to build new habits, giving them somewhere else to focus their energy will be a great starting place. Purge the playroom (or play space) of toys that have long lost their allure (or some parts) and maybe consider storing some of the toys and trying “cycling out” the toys to keep things fresh.
Set up “zones” based on types of play (building areas, a dress up corner, etc) and prioritize wide open space for the kids to spread out. Indoor active toys are also great for rainy days or cold weather – we love having an indoor trampoline, slide and mini ball pit for burning off extra energy.
What are your favorite strategies to reset after the kids have had a bit too much screentime?
For more parenting articles, check out our post on Ending the Bedtime War or our Mother-Daughter Date Ideas for Every Love Language.