There has been too much time on screens around here. By screens, I mean playing video games on the computer, watching YouTube and playing games on phones. So we’ve been trying some new schedules to introduce more variety into our lives.
Noticing a problem
I’m hoping that this will increase the fun factor and decrease our dependence on screens. One of my sons is also struggling to keep up with his classmates because he isn’t practicing in the evenings. It definitely feels like my kids are dealing with addictions. They CRAVE using screens, watching them, playing with them. It’s quite unsettling as a parent to watch them jones for the next eyes-glazed over session.
In the past, we have limited screen time and even ban them all together. This past summer, we replaced all screen time (with the exception of Friday Family Movie night!) with a trampoline in the backyard.
But by removing it completely, they don’t learn to enjoy using this amazing technology in moderation.
So how do we increase enjoyment of other activities, improve academic success while not completely eliminating screen time? A new schedule.
Trying something new
So here’s how I started: weekly theme nights!
Monday is family game night. We love playing games, but tend to stick with the same ones over and over again. We decided that we’ll play one or two games and keep rotating through our stash. It’s also a great reason to get new games! It’s worth investing in new board games when we know they’ll be used. To make this evening even more fun, we found a used ice cream maker on Craig’s List for $20. Sunday night, Adam mixed up the ice cream batter and Monday I plopped it into the ice cream maker. Now we can enjoy game while munching on ice cream of our own creation! This week, our youngest son won the game, so next week he can decide on the ice cream flavor!
Tuesday is Cub Scout night. Our oldest is a Webelos, our youngest is a Bear and both Adam and I are leaders. So from 6:15-8:30 we are pretty busy with scouting.
Wednesday is our “free night.” The kids can play Legos or with other toys. We can watch a movie or give the kids independent screen time. We also like to take turns reading aloud. The kids like to color while we read Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.
Thursday is Computer Night! Go crazy with online games, watching YouTube or enjoying a movie. Relax and enjoy!
Friday is family movie night with popcorn. Often we have homemade pizza and breadsticks. I sometimes cross stitch or play a word find in my little puzzle books, but mostly we just snuggle.
Saturday is open to whatever comes up. If we don’t have company or other plans, we’ll play a game or watch a movie together.
Sunday is family meeting. We go over the upcoming week’s events, give allowance and practice our memory verse. It’s also a great time to look at goals and take meal requests.
Now that you see the framework that is in place, here’s a breakdown of our daily schedule. One of our sons attends a public school. We either give him a ride or he rides the bus. He’s gone from 8:15-4:15 everyday. We need to make sure that he gets time to relax and enjoy time around here, as well as do his chores and homework. It was feeling very unfair because he was gone for eight and a half hours a day. While his brother is homeschooled and can take a break in his day to do any chores or reading. So I knew we needed more balance and structure daily!
7:00-8:00 Ready for the day
I usually leave the house early to workout or attend business meetings. Adam helps the kids get ready for the day. Our new schedule requires everyone to be ready for the day – dressed, teeth brushed, hair done, beds made and materials ready by 8:00. Even if you aren’t leaving the house, you must have all of this completed.
8:00-4:00 School, work or chores
There are no recreational screens for these eight hours! One kid is at school, one is home-schooled, Adam works, I work and home-school my kid… we are all busy. If you are home and not actively doing school work, you can read a book, do a chore, take the dog for a walk, take a nap, anything but waste time online.
At this time you can decompress from your day. Play on screens, run around with friends, play with Legos or stare at the ceiling. Try-Not-To-Laugh Challenge – now’s your time. You’ve worked hard and deserve a break!
5:00-6:00 Brain Hour
While I make dinner, the kids are required to do homework, a school project, play educational games online or read a book. If you have questions or need help, I’m here for you. But I’m also making dinner and stop asking me if you can be done reading because you can see that the clock does not say 6:00 and stop asking!
We haven’t worked out all of the bugs yet.
6:00-8:00 Dinner and theme
Now is when we eat dinner and do any chores that need to be completed. We spend time doing the fun activities listed above.
8:00-9:00 Wind down and bed
It’s time for showers and packing bags for the next day. Once you have your pajamas on and have brushed your teeth. Time to crawl into bed!
So there you go! We have lots of down time, lots of structured time to encourage learning and reading. It’s still pretty new, but I’m already seeing an improvement in amount of homework that is getting done. I know that as the weather gets warmer and we want to be outside longer in the evening, it’ll have to change. But I think that this routine will help us not go crazy over the next three months.
Would it work for you?
Do you think a new routine will help your family? Do you think writing out a schedule will help you tell your time what to do?