In a time of so much uncertainty, the focus on how to take care of our children has become so important. With technology and the ever-growing gig economy, taking care of our youth is the most important job we have. Teaching them how to interact with technology, supporting them in school and extracurriculars, there are so many resources to help our children be happy and healthy.
1. SCREEN TIME LIMITS
We, as adults, are glued to our phones in ways that no one could’ve predicted, so we are especially sensitive to how much time our little ones are on their devices. It’s a hard topic. So much of our culture exists online, there are so many tools and games that can help our kids learn. So, what is the balance to strike?
Every family’s plan and rules will be unique to their kids and their ages. First advice is to not treat screen time as a treat or a reward: it will only make the children crave and seek it more. It’s a part of everyday life for adults and should be slowly introduced as such. Leaving screens for weekends or limiting to 30 minutes a day (one episode of a show, or 15 min of learning games on a tablet) can be a soft middle ground to start from. And coming from someone who plays video games, you may need to come up with compromises from your video game obsessed middle schoolers. While you may not understand why an hour is minimum for the game to be enjoyable, you need to understand the platform can allow them to have bonding time with their friends or even learn transferable skills in our ever tech growing world!
Rules are important to keep with all screens: TV, Phone, Computers, but be clear with why we have those limitations. Even if you think they can’t understand the why yet, trust that they will. Also, don’t put any you’re not willing to do yourself. You need to be their model.
2. SAFE CLEANING PRODUCTS
This seems obvious but you would be surprised at just how much this is not thought of. We want the right chemicals in our house to keep us safe from bacteria and build up, but without harm.
First, always keep your cleaning products in a child-proof cabinet, away from your children. Little ones love cabinets and things in them. Second, find products that are environmentally friendly. As a rule on the whole, things that are good for the environment are usually good for our kids. The lack of harsh chemicals will be your first clue, but companies that ALSO have a green initiative plan are thinking about kids long-term.
3. CHILD RESISTANT PACKAGING
Child resistant packaging saves thousands of children’s lives each year. Our curious little ones are forever trying to mirror us and crawl into places they should not be. Having child resistant packaging on all medications, pill bottles, and the ever-legal cannabis products is something that can give you some peace of mind.
As nation-wide legalization has been rolling through the United States, cannabis in the home is extremely common. The want for odor-proof and child resistant packaging is for our kids and our guests. It keeps our kids safe from this herbal product that I’m sure they’d love to add to their terrarium. Especially since it’s in a non-flashy package, our kids remain uninterested.
4. ENCOURAGE CURIOSITY
It’s easier for us to keep our kids on a tight leash. Sometimes their endless questions of “Why?” can bug the crap out of us. But what a beautiful place to begin to experience the world. Why do we need to walk this way home? Well, darling, it’s the fastest way to get there. But can we take their lead? Go the long way home to reward their curiosity and enjoy the outdoor exercise with our kids.
Curiosity that is not rewarded, or worse punished, is a dangerous pathway for kids. Our children’s hobbies and questions should be explored to their furthest extent. Whether that be to the extent of their curiosity or the extent of their higher education can be up to the kids. Who knows how these explorations might add to or inform their future endeavors.
5. CREATE ROUTINE
Routines become benchmarks and encourage consistency in our kids’ day-to-day lives. Having morning, nightly, and weekly routines can build healthy habits.
Morning routine: This can be for planning, setting intentions, eating breakfast. How do we help our children prepare for the day? Starting the day off right can really dictate how prepared they are to take on life’s daily challenges. Starting the day with a full belly and some joyous interactions (morning 5-min dance party anyone?) can turn the whole day around.
Evening routine: How do we return home? What are the evenings for: to reflect on our day? To play? To read? We try to eat dinner every night together. While we do allow reading and logic puzzles at the table, we always will pause and give our roses and thorns of the day (what was good and bad about our day). It gives us a chance to connect and touch base as a family. How do we wind down and get ready to rest our bodies and our minds. Audiobooks before bed, with dimmer lights, and comforting candles can help drift us into the relaxation we need for a simple bedtime.
Weekly routines: These are easier to let slip, but keeping those Sunday mornings for cleaning and Monday nights for family movie night can really go a long way in instilling those values in our kids. Cleaning, family time, reading hours on Saturday afternoons: however the week can be laid out, letting your kids know what will be prioritized each week helps teach them the larger picture. Finding ways to schedule in the time for things you want to teach them are important is crucial. It takes 28 days to form a habit and healthy habits are what we want to help create for our little ones.