The countdown to summer break is on! Between attending all of the end-of-school-year events, arranging for summer childcare and planning those trips to the cottage, you probably haven’t given too much thought to how you’re going to keep those kiddos entertained all summer. It’s all too easy these days to fall into the “toss the kid an iPad” trap.
If you want to avoid device-dependent children, the key is to set boundaries immediately. It will be waaaay harder to pry those kids off their electronic devices after a couple of weeks of unrestricted access than if you set the rules right upfront.
First off, talk to your kids. Share some of your memories from summer breaks when you were a kid (which probably did not include iPads, Xboxes and the like). Tell them about that summer you learned to water ski, or the time you and Grandpa built that treehouse in your backyard, or about that time you and your friends set up a lemonade stand. Get them excited about all the possibilities that come with summer vacation.
Without seeming like an overbearing dictator, roughly plan out the various components that you’d like included in their days. This might include reading for 30-60 minutes, getting fresh air for an hour, practicing their favourite sport, helping out with a chore, or whatever applies to their unique development. Involve them and ask them if there is anything that they’d like to learn or work on over the summer. You might be surprised by their answers. Once you’ve figured the daily checklist out (ideally with agreement on both sides!), then you can work in their allotted electronic time.
A tip? Change your Wi-Fi password daily and give it to them only when the agreed upon tasks and activities have been completed.
And, if all else fails and you’re feeling weak when confronted with their pleas for more electronic time… hide all the chargers. When their electronics run out of juice, take the passive-aggressive approach and just play dumb. Because no kid will be interested in a device that won’t turn on!