5 Steps to Revolutionize Your Family’s Use of Electronics

If you have a hunch that this “revolution” is something your family needs, make the command decision to pull the plug. It will be uncomfortable in the beginning – change generally is. But look at it this way: you are a military family – change is your middle name, and you’re a master at getting through it. Persevere, and enjoy the rewards when you settle in.

And like any military family, you might like a checklist to help you through the transition, so use this one to help you revolutionize your family’s life this year.

  1. Approach it with a united front: Get on the same page with your spouse, and, together, explain to your kids the new plan: “starting immediately, there will be no electronics Monday through Thursday. This is not a punishment.” Determine how electronics can be used on the weekends and communicate this to your kids. Consider a “Family Movie Night” on Saturdays, which will show your kids that you don’t think TV is bad, and it will be a fun way to spend time together.
  2. Prepare your environment: Think of ways you can remove temptations. Take TVs and gaming systems out of kids’ bedrooms if necessary. Identify a central place where phones and tablets can be kept during the week. Use pillows to make cozy reading spots near bookshelves. If needed, reorganize toy and craft areas to maximize appeal and usage. The first few weeks will be your transitional hurdle. You can make it! Plan ahead and think of games, activity books, outdoor activities or simple crafts your kids can do (with or without you) during this time. Pinterest, your local hobby store and your library are all good sources for ideas.
  3. Extend your living space outdoors: Don’t let the cold prevent you from scooting your kids into the backyard to play. Pull out the outdoor equipment, take off the lid to the sandbox and have hot chocolate ready. If you have a dog, build family walks into your TTTT plan. Soon enough, the weather will warm up, and you’ll all have gotten used to the rhythm of going outside.
  4. Once per week, go to the library: Jed Gaines, the founder of Read Aloud America and my former boss, calls the library “the best deal in town.” Who could disagree? Where else can you get dozens of books at a time – for free? Help your kids explore the library and enjoy read-alouds, and let them choose books that they love.
  5. Make reading more than a transition to bedtime: Reading before bed is absolutely a special tradition – keep doing it. But think of creative ways you can add it elsewhere into your lives. Keep a stack of books in your car for when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in the pick-up line. Bring one or two books into the grocery store for your toddler to peruse in the cart. Make reading aloud a routine that regularly follows breakfast and nap time. Anytime you hand your phone over to distract your child, hand him or her a book instead.

So you’re probably wondering what happens next…

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