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To think it's impossible to keep screen usage to a certain limit in these circumstances

(12 Posts)
financialiasco Sun 30-Apr-17 10:24:31

Two boys, 7 & 10. Divorced from their dad, who has them about 30-40% of the time. I get up at 5am each weekday and work a lot of evenings and at weekends too - not in a manual job, but a teacher. I'm pretty tired a lot of the time.

They are both early risers not matter what time they go to bed. Ds1 can be up before 6 at weekends. He is sports mad and will have taped Match of the Day, cricket when it's on C5 etc etc. Then ds2 will go down . He doesn't like sport but will sit in front of it when it's on, then, of course, it's 'his turn' and they put a film on. So by the time I get up (about 7-7.30 at weekends) and have breakfast, they will be starting on the third hour of screen - or at least ds1 will. If I then insist it goes off a huge drama ensues as it's not fair, ds1 has had a choice and ds2 not etc etc.

Ds1 is actually pretty good about getting up and going outside at this point, but I still feel it's way too much and, if I want to watch a film with them later, or watch some Saturday evening tv, it makes me feel guilty as it adds up to about 5-6 hours some day. Today he is recovering from a bug, but still got up at stupid o'clock, doesn't feel like going out, so it's still on. I think he deliberately wakes, though doesn't have an alarm, because he knows I limit it and he wants to get some in before I wake up.

Neither are much into toys or puzzles, despite my best efforts - it's really playing out (so can be weather restricted) or screen and it makes me feel shit. We do quite a lot of outings, but can't be out all the time and today both of them feel below par.

To make it worse I know they both have pretty much unlimited screen time at their dad's so I feel I should be stricter to compensate. However, it's creeping up and up and it feels like the more time they spend there they more 'in the habit' they are and unlikely to consider other activities. I either give in, or face a lot of conflict when I want to be making the most of my time with them.

WIBU to worry less about screen time to have a more harmonious time with them. As they get older, it's harder and harder to encourage them into other activities.

MrsJayy Sun 30-Apr-17 10:49:42

People imo worry far to much aboutscreens your children are out and about during the week at school early risers so they watch tv it really is ok

MrsJayy Sun 30-Apr-17 10:51:42

Would you want to be doing activities when you don't feel well or would you want to rest and watch a bit of telly ?

SecretNetter Sun 30-Apr-17 10:58:08

I really wouldn't stress about encouraging them into other activities...but I would limit the screen time.

Tv and iPads are banned before school here because they get too into them and it turns getting ready into a nightmare.

But we recently had a two week ban of screens completely because they (ds's 9 and 7) were squabbling so much over a stupid Xbox game for days on end that I lost my rag (and regretted it but as soon as it was said it was too late!)

I found that after a couple of days of moaning during what would have been their screen time, they just found other stuff to do. Ds1 started writing and wrote a really decent length story over 4 days. Ds2 rediscovered play doh which he'd not bothered with for months. They spent more time in their bedroom, giggling and play fighting and using things I thought they'd long ago grown out of.

Now screens are back but less than before. They never had them before school anyway but they now have them for less time during evenings and weekends too and it's much better.

SecretNetter Sun 30-Apr-17 10:59:57

Missed the bit about illness.

Illness is an exception and the one time they can spend all day on it if that's all they want. When I'm ill I want to watch tv or fiddle on my phone and nothing else and they're allowed the same.

financialiasco Sun 30-Apr-17 11:05:29

Thank you for the replies.

Mrs Jayy - totally agree they probably feel like vegging today. It made me think about the other days though.

SecretNetter- that sounds great. I have never allowed screen before school - I know ex does though angry. Your screen ban sounds great, but the problem I have is if I did similar after a day or two they'd go to ex's and be on screen, then back at mine they'd be back to square one. It wouldn't get to that stage yours got to where they rediscovered other stuff because they'd be back and fore to ex's during the fortnight. That's why I feel a bit helpless about it all.

SecretNetter Sun 30-Apr-17 11:11:40

That's a fair point...but even if they're on screens at dads, you can try and create a new 'norm' at yours. So they may well moan but if they know they don't have screens x day or after 5pm or whatever, they'll have no choice but to get used to that with you.

claraschu Sun 30-Apr-17 11:12:10

I agree with Secret that they will find things to do if screens are not
an option. My gut feeling is that this might be worth doing at their ages, but only if you have the energy, really believe in it, and are not limiting screens out of a sense of duty. My kids all read a lot at that age; two of them did a lot of art; all of them played instruments; one of them loved cooking, etc.

I spent a lot of time and energy facilitating some of these activities, and I think with your full-on and stressful work it would be hard to encourage some of these things. The bad side for my family is that I have never really worked since having children, and am constantly regretting that, both for my sake (frustrated and lost my career) and for my children's (I have not set a good example and am now quite depressedsad). So well done to you for being such a fantastic example to your boys, for being a single mum, and for trying so hard to make everything work for them. These are the really important things, not a few hours of screen time!

silkpyjamasallday Sun 30-Apr-17 11:14:07

YANBU I was limited to an hour a day on weekdays as a child but it went out the window when DB arrived and was old enough to want to watch more tv play more on the computer etc.

It is a different time for most when comparing their own childhood, screens are everywhere and used for everything denying it totally would set them back. And while I don't think it's good to spend all day on screens (with the exception of illness) if they are early risers 5 or 6 hours takes up a lesser proportion of their day than if they slept in until 9 and did the same.

My DB refused to play outside at all when at home from about the age of 7 wouldn't even want to go to the park because my parents allowed unlimited screen time and let him have a tv and games console in his bedroom ostensibly for sleepovers but that didn't last long. He is growing out of it now he can go to the pub but I do think time outside and exercising through play is important. Just don't do what my parents did and I think you'll be fine!

JamesDelayneysTattoos Sun 30-Apr-17 11:16:03

Get them making slime grin

RhiWrites Sun 30-Apr-17 11:22:31

OP, I think you need to dig deeper in to what your issue is with "screens".

Is it being a passive consumer of media? If so, get them into playing console games, designing mine craft levels or take them to coding academy.

Is it you want them to be physically active? Then you'll need to get out anoraks and go for a rainy day walk, or visit swimming pools or indoor play centres, gyms, active sports.

Is it peer pressure? Don't worry too much. A lot of people are against "screens" because they don't understand how they can be used.

Instead of framing this as a negative thing think about how you'd like them to spend their time and how much freedom they should be allowed.

JassyRadlett Sun 30-Apr-17 11:23:29

In your shoes I'd experiment with imposing rules around what they can watch in the morning - eg DS1 can have 45 minutes (or until DS2 comes down if that takes longer), then DS2 gets 45 minutes, then it goes off. Any moaning or cheating is an automatic screen ban for the rest of the day.

That way they won't be putting a film on expecting to watch the whole thing, etc.

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