CONFESSION: my kids love screens. They love them. Iphone. Ipad. Ianything. They will interact with screens until I take them away. And don't get me wrong, I do take them away. I am one of those mean moms that won't let her nine year old have his own cell phone and only lets her kids watch t.v. and play video games on the weekends. I'm such a bummer! But even with my rules, I do feel like my kids spend a lot of their weekend free time watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates on Netflix or playing Minecraft. I would like to strike a better balance of outdoor time and screen time. One of my goals this fall season is to take advantage of our mild Southern climate and go camping once a month. We have a state park less than an hour from our house, and I plan on setting up my tent and camp stove on one of their campsites once a month for screen-free nature time.
This whole screen time balancing act is definitely a modern parent problem, and I love that this new book by mother/daughter team, Laura and Jenna Bush, addresses that problem in funny way and provides us with a solution - the great outdoors! Our Great Big Backyard is all about our amazing state and national parks that we have in America as seen through one gigantic family vacation that travels through all of them! The kids in the family reluctantly put down their Mario Cart for a minute, and when they do, they realize just how fun it can be to hike up a mountain, row a canoe, and spy all kinds of wildlife in our great park system.
With the anniversary of our National Park System here, my kids and I read this book and then spent some time talking about how lucky we are to have parks like the majestic and magical Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and so many more. And to add to that, we have hundreds of state parks that let us drive out of our big city life and be hiking next to waterfalls and towering trees in a few hours or less! This is one of those things that makes America a special place.
What about your family? Do you set limits on screens, or are your kids given free reign? I've read tons of articles, and it seems that half tell me to limit screen time while the other half say not to limit it. We seem to have found a system that isn't perfect but functions well enough for us. What is your system?