Avoid screen zombies AND get your kids out the bedroom this holiday

Screens have a way of creeping up on our us and settling in like a house guest you really like but don’t particularly want around… ALL the time!

After a VERY long and very hard year, how do we manage our tw/eens and their screens this holiday without turning into a monster or throwing the xBox/iPad/phone into the ocean in the hope that that this is the ONLY thing to actually get your screenager to emerge from their cave.

Below some ideas on how to get the screenagers off the screen and out the bedroom these holidays.

  1. The t/ween version of “go outside and play” without the eyeroll.

“Go outside and play won’t cut it!” for teens and tweens. As parents, we have to give them something to DO or MAKE outside. So, head to Builders’ Warehouse with a view to making a wendy house (aka teen cave). Head to the nursery, choose some plants together, build a vegie garden. Spin it as ‘promoting plant-based eating’ (very vogue), sell it however you need to, but the punchline is :  aim to have a holiday project that looks attractive and results in a feeling of “I did this, I made this, this is mine.”

2. The tw/een (jungle) gym

Teenagers need jungle gyms too- but they like them to look like gyms in the garage. Ask them to research what essential equipment they need to get going.  Get some speakers, some weights, a few mats and watch how they pump. Paint the garage a funky colour in the holiday. Budget together for one new item a month – it can be something as small as dumbbell clips to the bigger ticket items. The slow improvement of their gym keeps the interest going. Ask the screenager to set up a programme for you. Pay them to train you. It’s all in the name of bonding and getting the better of the screen.

3. Screen time ? For holidays?

Suggest a weekly allocation of screen-time. That means, if you are okay with two hours a day, it’s a fourteen hour a week allocation. (Remember tools like Screen Time for iOS and Google Family Link for Android) can help you and your t/ween manage these times together. Your t/ween may blow the budget on one long five-hour Minecraft session which leaves nine hours for the week. This encourages responsible time use and also creates accountability. And it takes away the ongoing power struggle.

4. Get out and about – but let your t/ween plan!

Get your t/ween to plan four family outings, each within one hour of your home for three hours at a time. Giving your t/ween numbers and time limits helps teens to know that ‘I won’t be away from my world forever. This encourages them to really engage when they are with you as parents.

5. Keep some structure where possible.

Let the kids decide what time they will wake up (even if it is much later than usual) but make sure there is a time -everyone up and at it. This reduces languishing with the screen until 11am. Maybe you prefer to say no screens at all in the afternoons, whatever it is, structure a ‘get up’ time and some time without the screen.

6. Your t/ween travel agent

Get the kids to plan, if time and money allow, for one weekend out of three as a family ‘get away’ time (two weekends out of the whole holidays is not a big ask). Again, give the kids the budget, let them decide where you are heading, let them research and plan the whole trip,  use old paper maps to navigate your way there,  Everyone to leave screens during the day, that includes parents!

7. Reward engagement

If your child sits and chats to the family after dinner or phones granny out of his/her own accord, reward him with special time to go and look at that longed for surfboard, or special part for a gaming computer. Talk about ways to achieve the desired item that correlate with desired behaviours in the family.


8. Allow for a little bit of bat!@#poop crazy!  

Revamp a wardrobe by cutting up old clothes and making new styles, make up a fun new sport with spoons and bats and odd balls, put on a play for the extended family, let them learn to make fun, alcohol-free cocktails, make up new family recipes for the year, cook and freeze together for an easy start to January, let them dye their hair, or yours! You get the idea.? Make it fun to get off the screen this December.

9. Don’t reward with screen-time AND don’t punish with screen time either this holiday

Let screens stay neutral this holiday, keep them out of your power struggles. Reward with time, punish with challenging chores. Take the charge away from devices.

10. Clarify and Contract BEFORE the holidays begin to avoid constant fighting

Agree on the who not just the how much and contract before the holidays begin, that means now! Tonight, speak about how holidays allow for a shift in time, but not endless time, in screen use. Clarify again ‘the who’, not just the how much – with whom are you happy for your child to speak to online, when and for of course for how long? Friends, friends of friends, so called online friends?

Download our  THE KLIKD SCREEN HOLIDAY CONTRACT for you and your tween/teen. It includes your promise to your kids this holiday, and theirs to you.

Here’s to a gentle, fun, happy holiday for us all.

Stay connected,

Sarah and Pam

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