‘Can’t I just finish this level, mom?’

screen time child iPhone

My son, Malcolm, had more screen time over the holidays than usual. Your kids too?

This isn’t shared as some sort of guilty confession. It’s just the truth of it.

It’s not unusual. There are not the same number of commitments, and there’s all that time at home together. The usual time on the gaming console has a tendency to stretch to fit the roomy capacity of days at home.

‘Can’t I just finish this level, mom?’

Ever gone for that one?

How about ‘I’ve nearly found all the objects needed for the quest!’

Or this doozy:

‘I’ve never got past this stage before, and I think I’m on track for my highest score ever on the leaderboard… Just five more minutes, please mom?’

There’s the sensible parent part of you that says, ‘I know that screen time needs to be limited.’

Then there’s the inner teenager part of you, that’s fully aware that if your child keeps playing the game that you have even more time to do the things that really ‘matter’ to you, even if scrolling your Instagram feed is what seems to matter right at that moment.

The result of all of this is sometimes the edges around limits get a little fuzzy (sometimes wooly mammoth fuzzy) around the holidays.

Sometimes it can be hard getting things back on track when your kid is back to school,
with all the time constraints it brings. It can be super hard to get a kid who’s been used to PJ days, out of bed and ready to catch the bus at school bus time.

It can be an adjustment to get back on track with limits around screen times too.

Bedtime routines are another possible area where it would help things to flow more easily if you could get back on track.

There’s no judgment included in this.

It happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent.

You want your kid to have a happy and relaxed holiday, and that can make navigating the waters of what the limits should be in the holidays more of an unknown island where no parent has navigated the good ship parenting before.

You can start by waiting for a time when your child is well rested and receptive and talk about how things are different in term-time to the holidays. Get on the same team together. Talk about what you can do to adjust and make a plan together.

For example, do you need to:

  • Set out school things the night before?
  • Have a timer for screen-time/designated times for it?
  • Set up a space for homework?
  • Write out a morning routine or a bedtime routine? (You can do this with pictures too if you think your child would respond to a visual representation more easily.)
  • Reserve film times for weekends?

So first, recognize that things may not be working as well as you’d like them to because there’s a transition to be made between the holiday way of doing things and the term-time way of doing things.

It may be that you’re expecting yourself to fly when you have not given everyone time to get off the runway.

Second, talk about the transition and make a plan to manage it together.

Third, don’t expect the transition to be seamless. Notice what’s working well and what isn’t and adjust where you need to.

Remember the peaceful parenting mantra, ‘Progress Not Perfection.’

Until next time,

Lisa XO

P.S. If finding limits and co-operation around screen time is something that you as a family are struggling with, or if you’d simply like to make a plan for it as your children begin to use devices more, watch out for my next email where I’ll be sharing with you about one of my coaching programs that can really help.

Lisa Smith
About the author

Lisa Smith