This summer my kids will be 10 and 8. This is the first summer they'll be occupying themselves for quite a bit (excluding the summer of 2020). DH will be working from home and I will be splitting time between home and office.
DH wants a no-screen time rule for weekdays during the summer and only fruit and veggie snacks. I'm looking to build some more flexible guidelines that allows screentime after some other pursuits (reading, chores, playing outside)... and while I try to push healthier foods I don't want the healthy food thing to completely backfire on us.
Have you set up any systems or rules that helped guide your older kids to make healthy choices during the summer?
persimmon / 1483 posts
Yeah, I think you'd really be shooting yourselves in the foot with absolutely no screentime if you're trying to work from home During the pandemic, we made our son a checklist of things he had to do before more screentime that he was learning to self-manage. There were things like read for 20 minutes (he was 7), play outside for 30 minutes, and do a Lego challenge. Depending on what they're into, you could also pick a few activities on the weekend, like an art activity or puzzle or Lego challenge, that you could make sure were available and set up for the weekdays.
For snacks, we haven't set up a system like this, but I've seen families have like 3-4 bins of things available with each bin being some category: fruit, veggie, carb, and sweet, and then kids know that they can take one snack from each bin over the course of the day.
nectarine / 2010 posts
I agree that trying to do no screen time and only fruits & veggies for snacks would likely be a mess AND mean they are more likely to interrupt you.
For TV we have done two things in the past, not sure which we will do this summer yet:
One is a set amount of screen time per day and DD got "tokens" to represent 20 minute chunks. We would determine the amount ahead of time and she was in control of how/when she used it. Most days she got 1-2 hours worth. If she wanted to use it in one chunk - her choice! If she wanted to break it up by the 20 minutes - great! It put the control of when in her hands. And there was no earning required - she got the time every day.
The other is that she gets 20 minutes when she wants it but has to earn any beyond that. She could earn it by reading a certain amount of time, playing outside a certain amount of time, doing specific chores, etc. In theory I like this one but I found it led to more arguments/complaining.
We have specific snack times on days we are home. We tend to group things in the fridge/a basket on the counter either the night before or in the morning. We do that together so she is still part of the process but things aren't a free for all. Typically she has a fruit or veggie, a cheese stick or yogurt, and something crunchy (like cheez it, goldfish, crackers, pretzels). Or sometimes an apple with peanut butter, a veggie with dip or hummus, or whatever thing I've baked recently. We want her to eat fruits and veggies but recognize that one there own it wouldn't be filling, so we work on helping her build a filling snack that she also enjoys.
pomelo / 5563 posts
I think just fruit and veggies for snacks are setting your kids up for failure, they need fat and protein as well to fill them up.
When we had the kids home and were trying to work we would make a snack bowl every day. It was a mix of things - some healthier like fruits, yogurt, cheese strings, and then some more treat-like things like chocolate granola bars - and we left it to them to manage how they ate it through the day with the caveat that that was what they got so when they invariably ate all the “good” stuff by 9:30am they’d be eating the cucumbers in the afternoon.
For screen time we have specific screen time times - some in the morning, some at lunch, and some before dinner.
I think a lot of it is going to depend on how independent your kids are, though.
kiwi / 556 posts
I agree with Erinbaderin. For snacks, I'd have a variety of things, but you're the ones buying, so just don't buy cookies and candy. But I would definitely offer cheese, meats, healthy crackers, etc in addition to the fruit and veggies.
My kids are younger, but what I've found to help with screen time is to have a schedule. The TV gets turned off when DH goes to work, then DD can watch one show while I prepare lunch, and then the TV gets turned back off until I cook dinner. There is some complaining sometimes, but for the most part, she knows what to expect and rolls with it.
eggplant / 11716 posts
@Corduroy: so I know I’m usually the odd one out in these scenarios, but I’m with your husband on this. But of course it depends on your personal home situation.
8 and 10 year olds actually *are* totally capable of having screen free weeks, and every 8 and 10 year old did that up until about the 80s, because television was only about 4 channels, it didn’t have kid shows except for certain set times like Saturday mornings, and parents just didn’t allow it. And obvi no internet.
I myself grew up in an extremely low TV household and my kids are being raised in a low (by todays standards) screen time house.
But my husband and I are both on board with that. So if you aren’t, then it’s worth sitting down together and discussing your POVs and pressure points sgreeing on with a plan together.
My kids aren’t perfect at all, and don’t get me wrong—it’s harder to parent with low screen time especially at first because kids that are already used to it will beg for it. But *if* you wanted no screen time, it would only take about 5-7 week days for them to understand your firm boundary about it and you’d probably be surprised at how well they can entertain themselves when they are given the opportunity to do that—and my kids will be exactly 8 and 10 this summer.
But if this is a situation where your husband is expecting you to magically make “no screens” happen by yourself, (I mean if this is a husband issue), then again I’d address it with him.
Firm boundaries are key. They really are. It’s okay for kids to be bored. You can set s boundary about them not interrupting your work and you can set a timer. I do that every night as it is. I literally set a timer and don’t let my kids interrupt my dinner-making time because I work all day, and I found that I was getting VERY frazzled with constant “look at me’s!” While trying to cook, go through school folders, pack lunches.
Now my kids can make a list of questions for me on paper and they can ask me when their timer is up and my tasks are done.
I have to remind myself that boredom is good for them. Having to wait sometimes is good for them. Learning not to interrupt my important tasks (outside of emergencies)are good for them. Not having a screen on constantly is good for their self regulation. Having nothing but toys and a bunch of books and the entire outdoors to turn to is good for them.
I’m also a middle school teacher and if you’ve ever stumbled in teacher quittock, you will see that American schools are experiencing a crisis of extreme behavior issues, even in the “best” students.
Serious issues with inattention. Serious impulse control issues. Serious lack of ability to wait, low social emotional levels.
I know everyone blamed the pandemic, but personally I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually in extreme increase in screen time during the pandemic that is causing this.
I can’t tell you how often I have 11 year olds who are exhausted and when I ask them why, it’s because they were up to 1am playing minecraft or fortnight or scrolling endlessly on their phones. It is an absolute epidemic and I work I. One of the “best” areas where we have almost no low income students. It’s not a parent income issue or a lack of parental education issue.
persimmon / 1483 posts
@Anagram: I totally agree with the "it's okay for kids to be bored thing!" I have had many times with DS, 9, when he asks for screentime and has whined that he has *nothing* else to do besides that and nothing will make him happy. For awhile I was giving in because I just didn't want to deal with it towards the end of a long day, but I found that when I stay firm, typically within 10 minutes he's found something to occupy himself with. Being bored and waiting are extremely important life skills.
pomegranate / 3230 posts
My rule for screens is that all obligations for the day (homework / shower / dinner) must be complete before screens can go on, plus it also has to be after 5pm.
My husband routinely sabotages my rule on weekends, plus in 5pm is a little too early because my son will choose tv over outdoor family time in the summer when it’s still light after dinner. Also, my kids wind up watching too much tv because we are not disciplined at starting bedtime early enough.
So, I don’t love my rules but they are partly a product of COVID and work burnout, and I do not have the energy to reverse them right now.
That being said, once screens are on for the day, it is very hard to turn them off permanently. So I stand behind the principle of a screen rule with a firm start time later in the day.
For snacks, our rule is one treat per child per day, and no earlier in the day than lunch. If they have a treat after lunch or during an afternoon snack, I remind them that’s it for the day and they cannot also have one after dinner. My kids over all have good health, thankfully, and are decent eaters overall. They tend to eat some fruits and vegetables each day and have a somewhat balanced diet. So I don’t mind if they add a few empty calories since it does not seem to be causing a bigger issue. One of my daughters LOVES sugary food though, and that is something we have to help her manage.
My kids also all LOVE sugarless gum. That sometimes gets me through arguments about treats.
nectarine / 2771 posts
I don't consider myself lax on screentime, but I personally don't care that much about it. I'm a licensed psychologist who grew up in the 80s with zero screentime until high school. My supervisor at my last job, also a licensed psychologist, had unlimited screentime growing up. I'll never forget that she said to me at one point, "well, our childhoods were different but we ended up in the same place." Also, we are very close to our next door neighbors who have kids the exact same age as mine (10 and 7). The neighbors get zero screentime during weekdays and only on the weekends. My observations have shown that not having screentime doesn't make my neighbor's kids want it any less, and on the weekends they are literal zombies. I'd rather teach my kids skills about how to monitor their own behaviors vs an all or nothing approach.
With that said, I'm home during the summer and my kids only go to sporadic camps that are usually half a day. I like to be as stress free as possible so I don't get crazy with the rules. They get a timer on their ipads and they can do with it what they want. It's three hours on a weekday in the summer, four on a weekend. If they want to use all of it at once, I don't care. If they want to save it and use a little here and there, I also don't care. Once the timer is up, that's it and I like that I don't need to keep track of it. They have a list of things they need to do and they know if those things don't get done, no screentime privileges the next day. I remind them that screentime is a privilege and not a right. We are lucky to have those neighbors because honestly, I don't end up policing them that much as the 4 of them (plus many more others on the street) spend most of their day playing outside. I don't know if you have neighbors around, but it is a huge plus. They're old enough to know where they can and can't go (lots of practice during covid quarantine), and we live on a safe street, so I let them get into whatever shennaigans they want and they almost never use up that screentime over the summer.
For snacks, they know any sweets they need to ask for permission. I typically allow a small one after lunch (like a cookie) and a larger one after dinner (like ice cream or a popsicle). I'm rather random about when I allow it so they do tend to ask me a lot, but I like for them to hear "no" or "later" and be able to accept that/delay gratification, so there is a purpose behind it. Otherwise, the usual snacks that go during the school year are what exists in the summer - fruit, deli meats, string cheese, goldfish, etc.
I firmly agree that letting them be bored is important, as is sticking to whatever rules you set up. Consistency is the key!
persimmon / 1093 posts
Your husband is way off on the snacks. A snack ideally should have a protein, carb and healthy fat. They are going to be constantly hungry just eating fruits/vegs, not to mention not being fun! All the kids dieticians I follow say to not restrict sweets as it creates a dangerous mindset.