When our son was about 2 years old we started getting worried about balancing screen time with playtime. However, we also knew that getting rid of screens completely was not the solution for us. So we decided to choose one day to give his brain (and ours) a break – that’s how “No Screen Sundays” came to be.
Now to be honest, during the week we don’t set strict limits – While he can’t have screen-time in the morning before school (we’ve found we can’t get out the door fast enough if he does), we allow him to have that post-school zone-out. Friday night is family movie night, and Saturdays, if we’re not going somewhere, he’s definitely allowed to keep the tv on pretty much all day.
However, our kids, whether they’re 3 or 13, need to have at least one day where they’re not zoned out on a screen – No TV, phones, and electronics. We’ve all read the data, heard the screen limit warnings, and felt the effects of the too-much-technology-time kid – but where does one even start to have an entire no screen day?!
The way we did it, and the best advice I could give, is to first solidify what day it will be – make sure that day is clear, and is the same one each week. Most important – STICK TO IT. A set day creates structure, and kids benefit from clear boundaries. Make sure the no-screen rule constitutes everywhere – my son knows he’s not allowed to go over to Nana and Grampa’s and watch TV – and my parents know it too.
Don’t plan to go to the movies that day, or start your own day out by checking your phone first thing. Think of things you enjoy as well – baking, the park, coloring? You don’t have to plan an entire day, but have an idea on reserve for the 4th time they say “I’m bored”.
And then: Brace Yourself. Because, as you may imagine, It’s Hard – Oh my gosh is it hard! Every single Sunday my son asks at least 3 times if he can watch TV. For over 5 years now the answer has been no, but he still tries (“Oh right, I just forgot”). Every single Sunday I ask myself at least once why in the world we would make this rule up, because it would definitely be nice to just curl up in a ball on the couch and watch Encanto for the 583rd time. But, to quote one of my favorite movies, “The hard is what makes it great.”
Going an entire day without a screen forces him to be creative, to be “bored”, to play with his actual toys, and read books. It forces us to go out for walks on nice days, and do things as a family – like playing board games, “super story hour” (reading a whole bunch of books snuggled on the couch), or ending up curled up in front of the fire doing a puzzle. Every single Sunday we have at least one moment where I say “Oh right, this is why we do this”.
Having a “No screen” day gives us the chance to reconnect with each other as a family, and makes every one of the hard moments worth the effort.