Managing Screen Time in the Summer :: A Midsummer’s Night(mare)


Aaah, summer. It’s so great, because you can relax more in the mornings without everyone racing out the door to school. But it’s also kind of awful, because you have to fill a LOT of time during the day. And if you have kids – regardless of age, but especially tweens, I fear – you may be battling over screen time

The Professor (aka my husband) and I try not to micromanage our girls’ every move, especially now that they’re older. They have to learn how to occupy themselves without our help, and hopefully, without devices 100% of the time, TV included.

We’ve observed that once the girls are on a device – any device – it’s nearly impossible to get them off. And worse, their angelic little selves morph into less agreeable creatures. The girls have survived being SO BORED with NOTHING TO DO (emphasis theirs) and found creative ways to spend their time when we’ve eliminated access to technology altogether in the past.

Here at our house, we’re coming into the home stretch of summer, and it’s just us with all those hours to fill. We’re hoping well-communicated rules and expectations will drastically decrease arguments about device time. At least, that’s how I envision it. Flawless. Seamless. Received with gracious, lovely attitudes. Here’s our strategy to manage the whole process this summer:

Create Guidelines or Rules

Everyone’s situation is different, so decide what you want your kids to do every day. I googled “before screen time” and used that as my starting point. I tweaked different lists to customize them for us and what we want to be done before screens.

Our list has 14 things on it – some simple like “get dressed” and others more involved like “be creative for 30 minutes (write, draw, play, imagine).” They have to read for 30 minutes, exercise for 20, and run through some chores. It may seem long, tedious, and rather arbitrary, but our goal is to keep them off screens for as long as possible. And more often than not, once they get involved in something else, they’ll stick with it for a while.

List of Things to Do Before Screentime | Columbia SC Moms BlogReview Them Dispassionately

The Professor and I will present the checklist in our most monotone and detached voices. We’re not leaving this open for negotiation or discussion (because immediately the little one will want to know if she can do half the stuff for double the screen time, bless). That’s how we’re doing it in our home this summer – we need to rein in these girls a little bit right now and remind them who’s in charge. You may decide to come up with the list together as a family and discuss the whole process – whatever works for you.

Be Consistent

But once the rules are in place, consistency is key. So if these are the rules, these are the rules. We’re hoping to follow them consistently. Objectively. Religiously. When everyone in the house knows and understands what’s expected of them, life runs smoother.


Our girls are old enough that we don’t reward them for things they should do anyway. But we’ve planned some rewards(ish), fun activities if we can all get through a couple of weeks successfully.

While we don’t entertain our girls and/or pretend to be their friends, we really do love spending time with them. They’re insightful and funny and challenging and smart and fun. Summer is the perfect time to try new things together before the chaos of the school year hits us and we’re off running in a million different directions again. Another escape room, stand-up paddleboarding, and studio painting as a family are things we’d like to do if we can pull this off.

Good luck to you, parents – may you stay sane through the many remaining hours of summer, find ways to manage potential screen-time conflict, and have fun with your kids. It’s true what they say – the days are long, but the years are short.

How do you manage screen time in these long days of summer?

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Wildly in love with her perfectly imperfect life, Kathy’s been married to her most favorite person in the world, “The Professor,” for 14 years. They moved to Columbia from Atlanta seven years ago and are enjoying raising their two girls, Gracie (12½) and Tate (10) here. After undergrad and her MBA, Kathy worked in Corporate America for 10 years before retiring to work full-time for the girls. Most recently, she was a grant writer at a college here in town, but had to leave that job when her family moved to New Zealand for six months for The Professor’s sabbatical. She started her blog,, to document that amazing adventure, but now she’s home and trying to figure out what to do with her life. Again. Probably the loudest and most foul-mouthed introvert you’ll ever meet, she can usually be found curled up with a trashy romance novel, on the tennis court, at her awesome gym, or drinking wine with people she loves.


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