Playtime vs Screentime: Finding the Sweet Spot
Written by Nuzest Ambassador Mel Campbell
Director of Jock Athletic & 2x ILS Beach Run World Champion
As a mother of three young children who enjoys running, nothing gives me more enjoyment than seeing my kids get active.
In this digital age, I think most mothers, working or not, can sympathise with the struggle of finding the right balance for our kids when it comes to playtime vs screentime I’ll be the first to admit that my children would sit on their devices 24-7 given half the chance, and when you’re juggling your work, cooking and the rest, Minecraft and YouTube kids can be a mother’s best friend.
But like anything, add little bit of structure in your family routine and you’ll eventually find a sweet spot that satisfies everybody and allows you more time with your kids.
Run, Work, school, dinners. Plan it out. There’s nothing worse come dinner time if you’re not pulling your hair out (and your fridge apart) wondering what you’re going to cook after a long day at work.
In our house, we have a no-ipad-during-the-week rule. This was torture for them in the beginning, but soon enough they rediscovered that we had a trampoline in the backyard, a skatepark down the street and a beach over the hill. And yes, they try it on me almost every night: “Please mum, can we just go on for 30 mins?” Um, no. Boredom is a good thing. It helps foster creative thinking!
With two out of 3 in primary school, homework is another item on the to-do list, so every Tuesday is Homework Day. After school we grab a milkshake, unwind a little and then head to the local library to complete their maths and spelling homework. This was a dedicated hour where there were no other distractions and I could be there for them completely. We could problem solve together in a calm and quiet environment. If they got it all done, they were free to roam the library, look up different books and borrow some if they wanted to.It was the BEST thing I ever did. But an important side note: homework is not the be all and end all. All kids are different and with my eldest son I realised forcing him to complete his homework was more harmful than it was good. He needed other ways to learn. So if we don’t get it all done, so be it.
Creating a weekly after-school routine through sport is another way to keep your kids off the couch. Hockey, oztag, athletics, the choices are endless. Or if they’re the more creative type, check out the local drama class, dance school, or art program. Aside from burning off the extra energy, a different social circle outside of school is a bonus.
This applies to how often you use screentime as well as to how active you are. From bathtime, through dinner and until their bedtime, my laptop stays shut and my phone put on charge in another room. And when they see me active most days, whether it be yoga, running or stretching, being active becomes part of the norm for them too.
Follow Mel on Instagram @_melcampbell.