The Ultimate Hack to Limiting Screen Time for Kids

When my kids started summer break, I had two goals: 1) To increase reading time, and 2) Limit screen time. Read on to learn how to limit screen time for kids with my free reading policy below.

First Read Time Then Screen Time

Yep, I’m that mean mom, but here’s why. I keep these kids busy all day swimming, playing, and doing alllll the things. The moment they have free time (and I mean THE MOMENT), they default straight to their iPads. I needed a plan to limit their screen time.

And I wanted them to read more. Like actual books. With pages. Remember those?

Enter the screen time policy.

It’s summer at the moment, which means the kids are enjoying some good old unstructured time away from school. They’re free from homework and rigid schedules and desk time. Now they get to wake up late, play games when they want, and go to sleep late. Ah, summer!

That’s all fine and good when they’re busy exploring in the backyard or playing with their friends. It’s when they get bored that the problem begins. Like zombies, they gravitate over to the TV or tablets and zone out, mesmerized by mindless nonsense. Sound familiar?

I have to say it: The Captain Underpants cartoon may be the most annoying show they’ve ever watched. So of course they love it. Of course. They could sit for hours watching Captain Underpants making potty jokes in his loud, silly, abrasive voice. Good grief, it’s felt like such a long summer because of that voice. We needed to do something about the screen time for my sanity.

Screen Time for Kids: The Reading Policy

To limit their screen time, I started a new rule in our house: They must complete one hour of something educational before they get the iPad or TV. They get to choose the activities and it doesn’t have to be anyone thing for the whole hour.

I made a printable screen time policy with their options listed (It’s editable and you can get it for free below). For example, they can read a book, or write a letter, or do a math page. They can write their own story, or make a comic book, or even make a diorama to go along with a book. They can other activities too, as long as they’re approved by me.

First Read Time Then Screen TimeThey choose whatever activities they want to do in that hour. They set their timers and go. They can switch activities if they want, but must pause the timer if they take a break.

Do they love it? Not always.

But this new system has opened up new opportunities for us. They now beg for me to read chapter books to them. They create comic books to share with their friends. They build forts and read to each other with flashlights.

I assure you that this was not happening before our screen time policy.

My reading policy has cut down on mindless screen time. They used to plop right onto the couch and zone out. Now they automatically start planning what activities they’ll choose for their hour and start right in. When my older son wakes up early, he usually curls up with a book and gets the timer going before I even come downstairs.


Screen Time for Kids During the School Year

Update: My boys are now back to school. We are still doing the screen time policy, but I cut it down to a half-hour of reading instead of an hour. This has been the perfect solution for us since they are so busy with sports and activities. This way, they get to do their daily after-school activities along with some reading and a little screen time.

I don’t see us stopping this reading policy any time soon. I plan to raise it back up to an hour again this summer when they have more time at home. Until then, we’re very pleased with how our screen time policy has worked out for the kids.

You can get my Screen Time for Kids Policy below for free. I made it into an editable (and totally FREE) printable so I could share it with you. You can download it and edit it however you like. Click below to get it. Enjoy!

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