I’m not much of an enforcer when it comes to screen time. I pretty much let the kids watch TV whenever they want, and just try to distract them towards other things throughout the day, or toss them outside when I feel like they need it.They’ve never been the type to totally zone out at a TV show, so they play while it’s on, and I’m ok with that. The iPad, on the other hand, I try to restrict a fair amount. We have a lot of educational games on our iPad, but we also have Mineflix and Angry Birds and other less-than-ideal games. And I don’t like to see them sitting on their butts for hours staring at a screen. With this in mind, we decided on a “one hour per day” rule (that’s combined, iPad or Xbox).
The problem with little kids is that they can’t tell time. They have very little concept of time. What’s five minutes vs one hour to them, right? So whenever I told the kids their hour was up, they got upset. Fights ensued. Chaos reigned. I tried timing the hour on the oven timer, like we do for taking turns with fought over toys, but they would be unprepared for the end, and not want to stop playing, or they would not use all their time in one sitting, and I’d have to keep track of who had how much time left. They would disagree with my calculations. Fights ensued. Chaos reigned.
Then one day, in a fit of frustration, I sat Gavin down and we drew a pizza on a piece of paper. I said, “Imagine an hour is a whole pizza. If it’s cut in to four slices then each slice is 15 minutes. You get four pizza slices per day.” We stuck that crude pen-on-back-of-old-grocery-list pizza to the wall and that was how we started timing the screen time.
Now, whenever one of them wants the iPad or Xbox, I start the timer for 15 minutes (oven timer, iPhone, whatever) and when the timer ends, we remove a pizza slice from the pizza. They then have the option of using another slice, or stopping (giving them the power and the choice). This has been working SO well. The kids understand the time concept, and they are the ones making choices about how they use their time. If they want more iPad but their slices are gone for the day, it’s their own doing. No one EVER gets mad at me anymore for not allowing more screen time. It’s marvelous!
I later spiced up the pizzas, made one for each of them, and made them more colourful, seeing as they are now a permanent fixture on my living room wall.
iPad Pizzas are really easy to make. Here’s the directions in case you need some guidance to get started:
You will need:
- Large piece of bristol board as your background
- Smaller piece of bristol board for your pizza (you could use construction paper too, but I like the extra sturdiness of bristol board when it’s something the kids are peeling on and off repeatedly by themselves)
- Adhesive backed velcro
- Letters (you can write free hand, get sticker letters, stencils, or use your awesome Cricut machine- whatever you choose, the world is your oyster)
What you do:
Use something to trace a big circle. I used a dinner plate. Trace it on the large bristol board and on the small bristol board. Cut out the small one. Cut the small circle into four. Use a marker to draw dividing lines on the large bristol board to show the pizza in four. I coloured each slice on the large board a different pattern. Just because I felt like it.
Stick velcro to the backs of the slices, stick velcro in the right spot on the large board (you want your slices to line up with your pizza outline on the large board when you stick them on). Add more velcro to the side of the large board so you have somewhere to stick the used slices. I used letters to add the kids’ names, tried to make it purdy, you know the drill.
It’s really straight forward to make, all you needed was the idea. Good luck and enjoy!