On a "normal" day, about 3 seconds after we get home from school, my 2 boys are asking to play video games. We have a variety of games on various devices and some are educational. But Spring Break is coming up and I don't want them to spend the entire week sitting around staring at a screen.
So I came up with a screen time coupon plan. Apparently, many other moms have similar issues because I googled "screen time coupons" and got a lot of results. I printed the coupons from this post on A Thrifty Mom.
I made a sign with the Screen Time Rules:
1. You must earn a coupon for screen time before watching TV, playing Wii, using the iPad, or using the laptop. (In other words, quit asking every 5 seconds if you can play video games!!)
2. You must use a timer to monitor your screen time. (I placed one by the TV and one by the computer because I'm pretty sure my boys completely lose track of time once they start playing.)
3. Watching TV before bed with Daddy is "free" - no coupon required. (They've been watching TV while eating their bedtime snack every night since they were born, so I decided not to mess with that.)
4. There will be a limit of 2 hours of screen time per day regardless of how many coupons you've earned. (My oldest is the type to save up the coupons and use them all at once.)
5. Watching someone else watch TV or play games COUNTS as screen time. (Mommy's on to you!)
6. Extra screen time can be awarded by Mom or Dad for good behavior. Screen time coupons can be taken away for bad behavior.
Then I set up some ways for them to earn the screen time which I also posted on the sign. They'll get 20 minutes of screen time every day just for doing their normal, expected chores (put your laundry in the hamper, dirty dishes in the sink, pick up your toys, that sort of thing.) They can earn 10 minutes of screen time for every 30 minutes spent playing outside, reading a book, or writing a story or letter. They can also earn screen time by doing extra chores or helping out in some way. These situations will have to be evaluated on an individual basis.
I have a feeling that this will result in more work for me because I'll have to police the situation carefully, but I think it will be worth it. Hopefully they'll realize just how much time they spend in front of a screen. And hopefully they'll have a reason to come up with something else to do that doesn't involve a screen. AND maybe I'll even get some help tackling the closet-clean-out project I have planned!