The first few years of parenting can be described in one word.
The sleepless nights, trying to be sane during the day and the never-ending housework sums it all up.
No wonder, we are addicted to coffee (and some of us limit it because we were told it can reduce milk supply, oh dear)
Trust me: I’ve been there
It is hard when you have been awake all night, then trying to get things done during the day. They say rest when the child is napping, but the problem is then who is going to do the other housework.
Sometimes Mom needs a break!
It is during those hours that we turn to screen time for our little ones, right?
Don’t feel guilty or ashamed.
I will show you how to limit screen time for your toddlers and find some inner peace in those minutes.
Whenever we think of screen time we tend to believe it is about getting rid of the screen but then what?
My toddler is still full of energy, bored and needs entertainment. I am stressed, tired and need some rest.
Instead of focusing on no screen time at all, or limited screen time, let’s try to find the right balance for our kids.
Don’t forget : Children’s online safety book for Toddlers
Here are 5 ways you can balance your toddler’s screen time:
1.Structure screen time
Our toddlers need a structure in their day. They need time to sleep, play, eat and spend time outdoors. The same can be said with screen time.
You can choose what time of the day would best fit into their schedule. For instance, in the evening after outdoor play and when I am preparing dinner is the best time for me to switch on some nice nursery rhyme on TV for my little one.
I will confess this is the time of the day I can just detach myself for a moment and just enjoy being me, as my daughter is being entertained by “Wheel on the bus’ that she constantly insist on listening.
2. Find age-appropriate content
It would be nice to be able to leave your little one alone in front of the screen. However, we have all read the horors of screen time, like freaky things popping up during a Youtube show.
To be able to do this you need to find age-appropriate content. Instead of relying on Youtube, use Youtube for kids ( a platform made especially for children).
There are some parental controls that you can set in place for Youtube for kids. But again remember, it is never 100% secure on Youtube kids.
In fact, I suggest don’t use Youtube and turn to safer options like Cbeebies where you are sure there can’t be any inappropriate content slipping through.
Do check out the list below for more options.
3. Experience digital together
Eventually, your toddler is going to grow up and you might then turn towards the iPad or the internet. There are plenty of educational apps out there to keep the little one busy.
But to be able to explore the educational stuff of the app you will need to experience it together with your child. It can never be educational unless you truly know the content of the app.
Browsing together also gives you the chance to discuss safe internet use from a young age. It helps in building trust and relationship with your child.
Any app can be labeled as educational so do not just buy an app because of what it says.
Read the reviews beforehand, watch Youtube shows about the app, and most importantly try it out yourself before giving it to your toddler.
4. Stop worrying about screen time too much
Digital media and devices can be a place for creativity and problem-solving. Instead of focussing on the amount of screen time, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my toddler sleeping enough?
- Is my toddler physically healthy?
- Is my toddler having plenty of face to face interaction and connecting well with family and friends?
- is my toddler spending time playing outdoors?
- Is my toddler having fun and learning new things using digital media?
If you answer YES to all of the above then you are doing fine Mama.
You can even check these 11 free apps to get your kids outdoors this summer
Join our Eparenting Community to meet other parents and discuss all about parenting with a screen.
How to actually limit toddler’s screen time :
Now, if you think your child is getting too much screen time try the below alternatives:
1. Encourage independent play
One of the best ways to distract toddlers is through independent play. Try the tips below :
- Combine a few toys together, for instance, magnets, or blocks and get them to play
- Start with playing together with your child and ask them questions
- After a while, tell them “I’m going to cook now: I will continue playing once I am done cooking”.
- Start with 10 minutes of independent play then increase it over time
The best thing about independent play is that your child will be satisfied with the time spent alone. They get to be more creative and do things they actually enjoy.
Oh yes, don’t forget the cute self-expression they do when they are playing alone. I just love the funny noises they make.
2. Try other media.
I find my toddler gets bored of screen time after a while. So the next thing I do is go back to books.
I also have those toys with sounds and lights but no screen. She loves to press the buttons and let the lights and music come up.
You can even try those type of activities first before turning to screen time.
Sometimes, I just play some nursery rhymes on the speaker and my toddler dances to it for a while till she gets bored or tried.
And if I still need to entertain her, I take out the pots and pans and let her make her own musical sounds.
Finally, don’t forget to have plenty of picture books. They tend to keep my toddler occupied for a long time.
Now your turn
Ready to create the right balance for your kids? Remember the following tricks :
- Structure screen time
- Find age-appropriate content
- Experience digital together
- Finally, ensure your child is getting plenty of rest, face to face interaction and outdoor play.
If you need to pause screen time, then do the following:
- Encourage independent play
- Plan for alternatives to screen time. For instance, books, toys and other fun sensory activities for your toddler.
Now share with us, what have been your biggest struggle with screen time? any other way you set limits? Share your thoughts.
Finally, don’t forget click below:
Children’s online safety book- teach them about internet safety from a young age. For 3 -10 years old
Here are other tips to you keep children safe in the digital age :
Cyber Flashing :The new online safety threat on your kid’s iPhone
10 things you can do right now to keep your children safe: Easy and clever online safety tips
3 dangerous places for children to be online : 3 places kids should have limited internet access