Summer is right around the corner, which means parks, camps, sleeping in and lazy days at home.

With screens.

So many screens.

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In my apartment, we have TVs and cell phones and Nintendo Switches and the list goes on.

As a work-from-home mom in the social media space, I am on my laptop and phone a lot. I don’t feel guilty about it when my kids are in school because they’re not here to see it, but when they’re home, I become acutely aware of how often I have blue light shining on my face. And while I’d like to say it’s always for work reasons, it’s not.

I like to scroll Facebook for family updates, Instagram for inspiration, and YouTube for funny cat videos. I’m only human, after all. It’s a part of my life and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed by it, but I do want my children to see more of my face than my phone case, you know?

How do you find the balance between “It’s OK for me to have a few minutes to check in on social media or write a quick email” and “I’ve been staring at my laptop for so long, I’ve forgotten what color eyes my son has?”

Exaggeration aside, it’s a real problem. On one hand, yes, it’s fine to unwind. We all need a way to turn off our brain. On the other hand, generations upon generations survived without screens, so why can’t we seem to put them away?

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I’ve been pondering this question for a few weeks now, trying to come up with a plan for the long summer days where we’re all home together more often. Here’s what seems to be working for me and I hope these tips work for you as well.

1.   Set your phone in a place where you’re not tempted to grab it. Instead of keeping it on the coffee table or in your pocket, try putting it on top of your fridge with the sound on. That way you can hear if you get a text or a call, but you’re not obsessively looking at it just because it’s there.

2.    Save some chores to do when the kids are home so you can be available for conversation and connection. I’ll fold the laundry when they’re home from school because it’s easy to talk with them while I do it. Or I’ll even help them clean their room because it means we’re spending time together, working as a team, and I don’t have my phone in my hand. More intense or loud chores like scrubbing the bathroom or vacuuming, I do when they’re out of the house.

3.    On weekends, if I don’t have something pressing I’ll set a timer for while I’m on my laptop. Thirty minutes in the morning while I drink my coffee, thirty minutes after lunch, and then I’ll wait until they’re in bed to pull it out. My kids are learning that when I have it out I’m working and it will only be for a few minutes.

Not only am I starting to set boundaries with myself, I hope I’m teaching my kids to have a healthy relationship with the screens in their life. As they grow older and technology evolves, it’s going to be even more tempting to always have our eyeballs locked onto a device instead of the people in front of us. And as technology changes, my rules and parameters will change. As my kids get older, I may loosen or tighten the reins on technology in our house depending on the circumstances. For now, though, these strategies are working and I hope they help all of us have a more screen-free summer than we have had in the past.

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