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Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Screen Strategies

Every year summer bring more time for screens to dominate our home.  The children get older and more tech savvy and my mama-heart gets more protective!  We had a good plan last summer and I liked the framework established for screen time and games.  The plan adjusts for our school days and needs a bit more adjustment this summer as we now have more devices and one child even has his own phone.

For our definition, devices are different than the tv.  The television has more lax restrictions and is permitted early in the day as they wake up and go about their basic morning tasks.  Devices, which are tablets, phones, Nintendo DS, ipods, etc., are not permitted until later in the day after reading, chores and outdoor time.

We don't do screens in the car, unless the trip is longer than an hour.

So our general plan goes like this:

Summer mornings usually begin with the tv on a cartoon.  It's not ideal, but it works.  They watch cartoons, I watch news.

By mid-morning, screen time is OVER and daily activities begin.  I'm out of the house and our sitter (ie: big step sister) takes on the managerial duties.  This may be a trip to the park or library.  It may be a walk around the neighborhood or just time watering the garden.  Chores must be done, crafts or reading are accomplished.  All this happens without the background glow of screens.  After lunch and cleanup, the kids sometimes have activities, but if not, they are welcome to watch Netflix or a movie.  By mid-afternoon, they are free to play games on their devices, etc.  This is usually full-on device mania!  I arrive home during this time and it helps the transition from working out of home to my "second shift" of home duties.

It's always a challenge to pry them away at dinnertime, but we do have a screen-free table.  Following supper, we often watch a movie together.  All phones and devices must be turned off and charging at 9 pm.  The charging stations are outside of the bedrooms.

Throughout the day internet access must be used in the common rooms of our home.

Within this general framework, we manage to spend many more minutes away from devices than on them.  I'm comfortable with that.

Do you have a summer screen strategy?  How does it change with the rhythms and seasons of your family life?
Note: these guidelines apply for the persons under the age of sixteen in our home.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Father's Day in a Blended Family

Like just about everything else, there isn't a "normal" in a blended family.  We have to create our own kind of normal.  Father's Day means that part of our crew will be out of the home, spending time with their bio-dad.  I do my best to honor their dad and teach them to give value to the special times we set aside to remember those we love.   

Mr. Wonderful is an amazing father and we will spend the day together with his daughters, doing something he loves.  We will treat him a special lunch and make sure he knows how much we love him.  I want my children, his step-children, to honor that bond, also.  He is amazing at engaging them, disciplining and guiding them.  I love the example he is of manhood!  We face and uphill battle of competition from my ex-husband regarding the role of stepdad, so I use every opportunity to remind the children that he is the dad of this home.


I'm so very grateful for the role of my own Daddy.  He remains my most ardent supporter and champion.  I never knew how much I would value Mr. Wonderful as stepdad.  He is a source of so much wisdom and stability.  I am so thrilled for the lifetime influence he has on my children.  I enjoyed this article by Laura Petherbridge:  Stepdads and Father's Day.  There may not be a "normal" for blended families, but I'm so grateful for all the ones out there sharing their story.

Father's Day can be full of emotions and feeling.  Each of us has at least some kind of  Daddy Wound, but each of us can also find something to value about the father-roles in our life.  I hope you spend your day with ones you love!

To my own Mr. Wonderful, you remain and always will be, the hero of our family!