Making a Screen Time Fast Work for Your Family

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A couple weeks ago, I had posted about our family’s journey to eliminating screen time. We are now two months without screen time, and the change in Junior’s attitude and speech quality has been nothing short of exceptional. We just returned from a road trip in which we spent 24 hours in the car over 4 days, and the kids did not use any electronic games or toys. Junior played with Play-Doh for four hours. Four hours. A couple months ago, I wouldn’t have thought he were capable of 4 minutes on any one activity. Ask Junior if he wants the iPad now, and he says  “no, it’s bad for my brain.” He is SO much more regulated and able to cope with life better. The several times I have turned a show on since we completed the fast has ended in a major meltdown within a couple of hours.

Several people have mentioned that they would like to try the screen time elimination, but don’t know where to start, because the thought of removing screen time from their child’s world is overwhelming. Here are some tips on making the transition a little easier:

1. I highly recommend the book, “Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time” as it gives all the reasons behind the why and how of screen time influence on children’s brains and it also outlines the entire screen time fast.

2. For the first few days, I suggest coming up with activities to keep the kids out of the house. The first few days are the hardest part of the withdrawal period, and if kids are out being active, they won’t be as tempted to ask for a show or the iPad. Go to the playground, take the kids bowling, go for a hike…just make sure you have a few days of being out of the house for the most part.

3. Have fun activities scheduled for a while. For the most part, I’m not a fan of scheduling out activities, but for the first week of the fast (after a couple days of being out of the house), it helps to have some activities scheduled. I had several craft projects set up, as well as some science experiments, board game time, and recipes to make together.

My Favorite Screen Free Games and Toys

Believe it or not, there are more ways to entertain kids out there than just video games, iPads, and movies. Here are some of my kid’s favorite things to do:

  • Legos
    • If your kids prefer less open-ended activities, there are many “Lego Building Challenge” ideas on Pinterest.
  • Wooden Blocks
  • Magnetic Blocks
    • These magnetic blocks are one of my all-time favorite toys. The kids learn a lot about 3-D shapes, can build impressive structures, and Junior even sticks them to his cochlear implant magnets :)
  • Art Supplies
    • Keeping a good stock of paper, paints, crayons, markers, watercolors, stickers, glitter glue, and scissors make for hours of creative fun.
  • Car Races
    • Even my 8 year old daughter loves building Hot Wheels tracks!
  • Outdoor Toys
    • Inexpensive things like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and little shovels are outdoor staples to have on hand.
    • Sandboxes, ride-ons, and water tables also keep kids having fun outside.

Even if you’re overwhelmed with the thought of starting a screentime fast, I promise it will be worth it. I didn’t know how I was going to do it–after all, I needed the break and I thought that the iPad was the only thing that would calm Junior down in a meltdown (which were happening multiple times a day). Now that the screens are gone, the meltdowns have ceased as well and I realized that the devices I thought were helping the problem were actually making it worse.

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