Hourglass Screen-Time Monitoring - A Lockdown Parenting Hack

Hourglass Screen-Time Monitoring - A Lockdown Parenting Hack

For years, we’ve been dreaming of spending more time at home with our loved ones. COVID-19 and the lockdowns that followed gave us that chance. Although some got the best of it right away - pumping their muscles, starting personal blogs, and getting back to hobbies long forgotten - for most parents, these illusions very quickly gave way to a brutal reality. 

Working from home also brought the daily music of children crying for distractions and our own eagerness to give into almost any request in exchange for a quiet minute to get some work done. 

Now as we are realizing that home may not be as great of an office as we initially thought, it is high time to start dealing with the never-ending pleads for “five more minutes” of screen time.

The struggle to not give in

If you’re a parent, you probably already know all about the benefits of teaching children to understand and respect boundaries. Most likely, you don’t think that your children should spend all of their days playing video games or watching cartoons, either. 

Where most of us struggle is finding ways to teach our kids about discipline and encourage them to self-monitor without starting an apocalypse in our homes. This is why we are often so tempted to give in to their demands. Not because we agree, but because disagreeing might mean not getting anything done. 

How lockdowns are making things harder

It was tough when we had to teach and discipline our children after work, when they got home from kindergarten or school. Now we have to do it during our work time too. Let’s face it - in a desperate need to focus on our tasks during these past few months, we have often allowed kids to do whatever they wanted and now we have to deal with the consequences. 

As working from home is becoming the new normal, we are coming to a point where we start realizing that children have their own set of challenges and to help them deal with it and develop as human beings, we need to start setting boundaries again. But surprise, surprise - there is more resistance than before. Attempts to explain why they can’t have “five more minutes” typically end in tears (usually theirs).

Solution: Giving options and sand timers

Do not fear - helping children develop and keeping your sanity at the same time is possible. We and some other parents that we know, found that there are a few simple, but effective ways to help our kids (and ourselves) during this time. 

First, provide options - This will take some work, but if we want our children to spend some time learning and growing instead of looking at a screen, we need to give them alternatives. So find something that your child finds exciting. Maybe they love drawing, reading, coloring, or cleaning the house (that would be great, wouldn’t it?). Create opportunities, involve their siblings, and give them tools for these activities.

wodden color pencil

Second, help them enjoy self-monitoring - Imagine if your daughter would know when she had enough screen time and went to the next thing by herself without any negotiation. Well, if you make it fun, this is possible. What our friends recommended was getting a bundle of small hourglasses of two, three, and five minutes each. After our son had 20 minutes of screen-time, we’d ask him to choose one of the sand timers, and let him stay by an iPad as long as there is sand on the top bulb.  He usually picks the five-minute glass, but that’s fine. He found watching the sand in the hourglass really exciting, sometimes more than the screen itself. It also helped him understand time running through the hourglass better than a digital clock. We found that we hardly had to argue with him once the timer ran out.

So, let’s teach our children to spend their time responsibly by providing them with options and helping them track their own time. This way working from home might become more heavenly than we imagined.

You might also want to try using an hourglass to boost your own productivity when working from home

Check our article on boosting productivity here.