Now that the new school year has started, it can be so very easy to let those back-to-school dreams of Organization! Family time! And balance! … well … slip away. So we’re grasping at the pumpkin spice straws and viewing October as a chance to dig our heels — our Uggs? — deeper into those totally attainable — we promise! — back-to-school family goals.
Let’s dig in.
In an article in Psychology Today, Alex Lickerman M.D. says, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “Why is balance important? For me, the answer turns out to be the same metaphorically as literally: so I don’t fall over.”
All parents can relate to that feeling of falling over when any part of our lives — nutrition, exercise, work, friendships — far outweighs the others. This holds true for our tweens as well, and it definitely holds true for all of our digital use.
For example, a little Instagram or Snapchat …is super fun. But social media scrolling every single free minute that we have … is more than just a little draining.
So how do we avoid this phenomenon so that we can teach our kids to grasp at all of the amazing things that the online world has to offer them in a balanced way? Like this.
Implement this one rule to create digital balance for your child and your family
All devices are to be plugged into a central charging station when they’re not in active use.
“Active use” is a completely non-judgmental term meant to encompass any and all use.
This includes, but is definitely not limited to:
- Texting a friend
- Setting up a babysitting job
- Listening to music
- Reading a book
- Scrolling through social media
- Watching YouTube
Implementing this rule in this way, you send the message that you are on the same team as your child when it comes to device use. Screens, phones, and video games do not have to be a point of contention between you, but creating balance is important.
Conversations about topics such as this “digital balance” can help build strong bonds with your kids. They help develop trust, show them you care, and open up gates to other conversations.
Breaking the ice with kids can be made even easier if you have some conversation starters. This great infographic has some excellent ways to get kids of all ages to start talking. And conversations don’t always have to be face-to-face
- Use texting as a safe and easy way to communicate about feelings, and share your own positive choices, such as getting enough sleep, being a kind human, and making good decisions.
- Consider asking your child what they are doing during their screen time—make them the expert as they teach you a new app or game!
Hopefully you will find that forging bonds over small topics can help make conversations about choices—such as saying NO to underage drinking—a natural next step.
It’s all about balance!
Alex Lickerman M.D. wrote, “A balanced life, most would agree, feels less stressfully lived than a non-balanced life, which feels overwhelming and unsatisfying.” I think we can all agree that this is an anytime-of-the-year goal that all of us moms are willing to work toward with our kids. And this tried-and-true tip is the way to achieve it.
About the author
Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can let your child use the Internet and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously spoiled mini goldendoodle. Find her at TheseLittleWaves.NET