Being a Dad to an (almost) five-year-old, I’m struggling, like a lot of other parents, to balance out screen time with my child. Let’s be real here, kids love a screen – whether it’s TV, Xbox, a tablet, Playstation or even a phone that’s full of apps for them to mess around with. Once you introduce children to the wonderful world of entertainment, it can be difficult to rein it in.
I’m not a perfect ‘Instagram Parent’ who never allows their children screen time and, yes, most days Joshua gets way more screen time than I would like. But that doesn’t make me a lazy, shit parent. It makes me real. It makes us real. We live in a time where everything is online and we need technology to survive, so there’s no surprise that our kids are learning that already. But it’s also not good for them, we all know that. It’s good for them to a point but then it becomes pure couch potato mode.
Over the past few months, we have been actively trying to reduce Joshua’s screen time and by the time he starts school in September, it will be down to almost none – other than on weekends and some evenings.
What to Do Other than Screen Time
We all have a perfect picture in our head of how the days would go with our children and fuck me, it never goes that way. But we certainly have an ‘ideal’ of how it will go once Joshua starts school in September regarding more family time. I can bet you now though that there will be evenings after school where I will chuck him the tablet just so I can get dinner cooked in peace, it will happen, and it will happen more than a few times.
Luckily, whilst Joshua loves his Xbox, TV and tablet, he’s often quite good about it being taken away – as long as there’s good reason. He will fight you about it but after a while, he will move on… it’s just battling through the temper first!
But, here’s how we plan on substituting and encouraging no screen time (ha!)
Homework / Workbooks – Joshua loves learning, and he is always asking questions and being inquisitive. As a child, I was like him and I absolutely loved homework and I would get it done so quick that eventually I asked my Mum to buy me extra work to keep me going until I got my next lot. Joshua also genuinely has some things that he needs to work on, such as speech, so it will give us a chance to work on the things he needs help with to prepare him for school.
Tuff Tray Activities – I love the idea of my kids rolling around in a messy tuff tray, exploring and having some crazy fun. Joshua used to go crazy for tuff tray activities, even non-messy set-ups, so I can’t wait to bring that back.
Play Corner – at the moment Joshua doesn’t play with all of his toys because most are up in his playroom, where we have found he doesn’t really go often. Instead, I will be making up a corner downstairs where I will rotate his toys a few times a week. One day I will set-up his rocket tent, another will be his trains & tracks and so on. That way, it’s always something new and it makes use of all the toys he has.
Arts & Crafts – Joshua has his own craft cupboard and he loves making pictures and things for other people. I never tire of him running and proudly showing me something that he has made. With a few holidays coming up, he will be getting stuck into making decorations as he always does too!
Board Games – we used to do this most evenings and for some reason, we recently stopped. So, I want to dig out all of our board games once again and have some quality family time after dinner.
We have always been the type of parents who want to talk to our children, get to know them and hear about their day. But then we go and shove him in front of a screen for a couple of hours, which achieves nothing. I would be devastated if we weren’t all as close to each other as we could have been, because we spend our evenings separate during his childhood and beyond.
Most of these, we will do as a family, to spend time together before bed in the evening. Fucking idealist, right? Here goes nothing…