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8 easy tips to help manage your kids’ screen time

7. Use media with your child

8 easy tips to help manage your kids’ screen time

In my coaching practice, I have never yet had a parent come to me worried that her child was spending an insufficient amount of time in front of screens. Just about every parent I speak to tells me her child spends too much time in front of a screen and that turning it off is a daily battle.


Does this sound like your family?

Parents today are facing a challenge that no previous generation has ever dealt with. You didn’t grow up with this, there’s no clear path forward, and the technology moves faster than any of us can keep up with.

You’ve given your child various screens so he’s prepared for the future, but these same screens are making it hard to have the family life you envisioned.

Do you have to give up your dreams because the internet is banging on your door? Technology has had an enormous impact on all facets of our lives—work, school and family. Yet all you really want at the end of the day is a quiet evening with your family without having to fight about the devices.

How can you create the family life you want and not become the tech police? Here are eight tips to remember:

1. Your children are watching you

Limit your time online when your child is present. It’s easy to think, “I’ll just take a quick peek.” When you look up, 30 minutes have disappeared.

Be conscious of putting your phone down and making eye contact with your child when you speak. Doing this lets him know that he is more important than any screen.

2. Screens stop annoying behaviors but don’t teach better choices

Young children have big feelings that can erupt like a volcano. Help your child learn to better manage her feelings by being a calm presence and acknowledging those feelings. Technology will never provide the love and understanding that you do.

3. If you work online, help your children understand when you will be free

Yes, there is freedom in working from home. The downside is that your children don’t really understand the difference between working parent and plain old parent. Let them know when you begin working and be clear about when you will be again available to them.

4. Have clear limits about screens

Create screen-free times. Set the stage now for the dinner atmosphere you want when your children are older:

  • No phones at the dinner table
  • No responding to texts or calls during dinner
  • No TV in the background.

This applies to everyone in the family—including the parents. It’s much easier to set these rules and make them the norm in your family when your children are younger than when you are dealing with a 15-year old.

5. Make bedrooms screen-free zones

Your child’s sleep (and by extension, yours) is important to the health and welfare of your family. Screen use is not conducive to sleep. Again, set the rule now to eliminate problems later on.

6. Be an involved parent

Have clear limits on the amount of time your child is exposed to media and technology. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that less is best.

7. Use media with your child

By reading the story online together, you can discuss it with your child, helping her learn at her pace, not the one dictated by the software developer.

8. Young children learn best in the real world

Provide ample opportunities to play in nature and interact with open-ended toys. Children are hands-on learners.

Screens are here to stay. Our job as parents is to model and teach thoughtful and responsible use of the amazing technology at our fingertips. Always remember, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

A version of this article was originally published on Practical Solutions Parent Coaching.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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