Just like that, another month has come and gone. Can you believe summer is OVER?! Wasn’t it just yesterday we were eating popsicles by the fistful and spending our days poolside? Oh, wait. I live in Arizona. It was just yesterday. 😉Before we know it, we’ll be buying Pumpkin-Spiced-Everything and decorating for Christmas! Come on, Father Time, take it down a notch!
I love fall because of the cooler temperatures, the football games, school events, and Halloween, but I’ll be honest, it’s also a really hectic time for our family. Saying goodbye to lazy summer days and getting the hang of new schedules and routines takes some major adjusting. I don’t know about you, but my kids seem more rambunctious and wilder than ever during these first few back-to-school months.
And it’s no wonder—they’ve given up the freedom of summer and swapped it out for 7+ hours a day, 5 days a week of sitting in a classroom, navigating new friendships, and learning new things!
So this fall, getting outdoors and breathing some fresh air with my family is an absolute priority. We’re scaling back on after-school screen time to be outside, get in some exercise, and make the goodness of summer last just a little bit longer.
Which brings me to Our 12 Month Transformation, Month Nine: Get Outside and Move!
If you’re new to the blog, first of all, welcome! I’m glad you found me. 🙂 Our 12 Month Transformation Themes began in January 2018 when I made a goal to focus on and tackle one thing every month that would make me a better person.
Ultimately, my goal is that by the end of the year, I will feel better about myself as a mom, wife, and business owner and help you do the same. 2018 has been a year of finding peaceful resolutions with the things that have stood in the way in the past.
Did you know the average kid spends 6.5 hours PER DAY in front of a screen?
That’s 6.5 hours every day that our children are spending playing video games, on their phones, watching TV… basically doing everything except going outside and being kids. Even during school! We’ve talked with teachers at our kids’ schools, and they all say the same thing; getting kids off their devices during the day is a huge struggle. I have to call a timeout on this one. There’s really no other way to put it. As a society, our kids are just getting lazier and more entitled.
This has been a huge topic in our house over the course of the last year, and a lot of you might not know this, but we held Matix back in school a grade this year because of this very reason. Cue a huge dose of mom guilt, but ultimately, Matix wasn’t ready for 8th Grade, and sending him on would have been doing him a huge disservice.
The school he was attending last year implemented a No Fail Policy, something a lot of schools across the country are adopting. On average, Matix was failing most of his assignments. He wasn’t doing his homework (which once I realized, you better believe this mama bear was on him!), and he was scoring low (ie, failing) on all of his tests. BUT, once grading period came around, he’d consistently bring home Cs…more often than not because I was the one forcing him to peel away from the virtual world he was living in and placing, him BACK into society to do what any other school kid needed to do.
It never dawned on me what was happening until we had a meeting with his principal. Because of this policy, Matix (and every other child at his school) was being given unlimited opportunities to retake tests and turn in homework. If he turned in an assignment four months late, he could still get 100%, allowing him to dive deep into his virtual world of electronics, games, and virtual friendships for hours on end before and after school.
Kids were being taught to only do what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it. GUYS. This is not how the real world works. We fought tooth and nail to hold Matix back and found a school that doesn’t follow this policy. It’s so important that he learn to do the work, even if it is sometimes a struggle.
I can’t say that I blame the school system either though. I mean think about it. They are intercepting the remnants of kids who are being raised by technology. Parents too busy and enveloped in their OWN virtual worlds to even realize their children are slowly becoming zombies. Legit, Wally’s…just mesmerized by the bright screens and instant highs that come with “friend requests,” “likes,” and courageous (and usually too mature) text conversations that would never have happened when I was a kid.
Kids are LIVING in a false reality. Their minds are hyper stimulated by the hours of screen time and fast-paced games/conversations, so it’s no wonder they are bored in the classroom and unmotivated to do their schoolwork. I would be too if I were them!
Parents, this is on US. Yes…you and me. We have to teach our kids the meaning of hard work and the importance of taking care of our minds and bodies. We have to get our kids off the couch and outside moving! In “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” it teaches that starting your day with a quick workout gets your brain synapses firing, which sets you (and your kids) up for even higher success with learning and accomplishing tasks throughout the day. We want to do everything we can to set our kids up for success!
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all screen time is bad or that our kids never get to play on their devices! We’ve just learned that we have to put limits on how much time they’re given when it comes to electronics, and it’s definitely something they earn! Here are some things that are helping us encourage our kids to create some distance from their screens and get their bodies moving:
- Create an exercise reward system. Every time the kids exercise, they earn 30 minutes of screen time or anything else that gets them motivated: a bike ride, a quick circuit, anything that gets them moving counts. What makes it even better is when you all get to join in as a family!
- Make a list of things your family loves to do together. Put them in your calendar if you have to, and one by one, start fitting them into your weekly schedule. I know it’s tough…the kids have homework, sporting events, music lessons, dance classes…I get it. But even if you commit to one night a week or a couple of hours one day on the weekends to getting out and moving together as a family, you’ll be so happy you did! And who knows? Maybe you’ll even discover some new favorite family traditions!
- Do family workouts. One thing we love to do as a family is to exercise together outside! We talked about these activities last month on Good Morning America, and we gave ideas for ways you and your kiddos can put together a quick exercise circuit or obstacle course outside. Some of our favorites have always been the Deck of Cards or the Powell Ninja Warrior (think burpees, jumping jacks, standing on one foot). These are so fun that your kids probably won’t even realize they’re exercising!
- Make memories outside. If family workouts aren’t your style, there are so many other fun ways to make memories outdoors. Some of our other favorites are hiking, planting a garden, enjoying some play time at the park, or even packing up a picnic! BONUS: Most of these activities are very cheap or even free! An absolute must after so much money spent on school supplies and new school clothes.
- Be an example. Our kids will do what they see us doing, and if we’re on our phones, tablets, and computers all the time, they will want to be too! Teach them balance by putting your phone down and making exercise a priority.
So let September be the month that inspires you to get up, get out, and MOVE! You’ll create lifelong memories and enjoy quality time with your family while doing something so, so good for all of you!
I’d love to know about some of your favorite outdoor activities you and your family love to do and how you manage screen time in your household. What have you found that works? I’ll be sharing more ideas as the month goes on, but in the meantime, share your faves in the comments below, and let’s learn from each other!