Cutting down on screen time

Not every topic can be about transgender issues. Why? Because at the end of the day, we’re still a really typical family. During a recent interview, I was asked what I would want other people to know about us and my reply was that overall, we’re shockingly normal. So normal, in fact, that I think most parents can relate to what I’m going to talk about today.

We’ve all been there, and at this point in the summer, you’re probably pretty frustrated by the questions about ,”Can I get on the computer? Can I go on Minecraft? Can I watch YouTube? Can I play Wii? Can I play Road Blocks? Can I get on Roku? Can I watch Netflix? Can I (insert screen-themed request)?”

It Drives.



Which I’m convinced they know because they’ve perfected the art of asking in tandem until I’m raising a white flag and beating my head into the corner.

It was one of those peaceful moments when they were losing brain cells in front of YouTube and I was losing mine in front of Pinterest (hey, if you can’t beat them, join them) when I ran across this little gem.

screentime                   \


You can find it here. I adapted it to fit our needs as we were still finishing up some homeschooling at the time.  And, you can see I added some important additional rules.

 No Screen Time Each Day Until

We’ve been using this method for about 2 months and it’s working great. My kids are doing basic hygiene everyday WITHOUT me nagging them constantly. And, best of all, they don’t ask about the computer until all of this is done. Most days.

I have a chore list right next to this one and they are both firmly attached to the fridge. It’s cut down on so many questions. Yes, each new chore they attempt requires explanations, demonstrations, and occasionally tears (usually mine), but it’s working out better than I had hoped.

It’s like magic.

If you have any other tips and tricks to cut down on screen time, nagging, or other things that drive you crazy then I’d love to hear them!

3 thoughts on “Cutting down on screen time

  1. Jeff Spence

    This is great! Though Zarah is a bit young for much of this, the screen-time issue is already at hand. The tough part is, as an author, I work from home – on the computer. Her mom also works three days a week at home – on the computer. It is very tough to explain why she can’t do so, when we spend so much time modeling the behavior.

    So, this is my solution…

    Rather than sneak work-time in during the day, I intentionally focus on her. Making something more exciting than whatever is on the screen takes ENERGY, and a lot of it. I’m an older parent, but I dig it up somewhere and off we go. We visit local (preferably free) activities, like the turtle rescue center, the various zoo incarnations for which we have annual passes, and make chores like grocery shopping into adventures and ways to learn reading and math skills (and to snarf samples).

    At home, I consult my list of activities from “The Crayon Manifesto” (see my book “A Stay at Home Dad” on Amazon) and do them with her. I trace letters with her. Color. Give check-ups to a stunning variety of stuffed friends, then get one myself. The list goes on. The secret is matching the entertainment value of the device – and there are millions of dollars put into the development of that digital power.

    But the fact is, most kids would rather spend time doing fun things with mom and/or dad, so if you can keep ahead of the little rapscallions for a few hours, they’ll probably love it – mine does – and the device will be forgotten.

    …But I am DEFINITELY going to use your list! Because what works so well for me now, might be a total bust in six months. Vive la Parenthood!!!

  2. Paul

    We’ve printed out both of these and are currently deciding on exactly how we’re going to implement.

    Thanks for that: it’s great to know that parenting is largely the same across large swathes of the planet.


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