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Moderating Screen Time

Posted on Feb 7, 2017 5:00:00 PM by Laurel Robinson

Should I moderate my child’s screen time?  If so, how can I place limits on my child’s screen time?  These are the questions that linger in every parent’s mind as we go through our hectic days.  We see our kids looking at screens, and we may not always have time to look over their shoulders. But we also have the unique role of seeing their hearts and the fruit of what’s going on in their hearts.Screentime 1.png

Why moderate screen time?

 In kids and adults, online activities can affect the way a person’s brain works. If we are constantly getting pop-up notifications, for example, our brains adapt to this norm and it becomes difficult for us to focus on a singular task for very long even when we want to.  We find ourselves interrupting our tasks with unnecessary distractions because that is how we are accustomed to operating. With this in mind, it would be wise for the entire family to set some boundaries on how electronics, email, social media, and games are used--for emotional and spiritual health.  You can even hold one another accountable to the guidelines you set together.

A recent study shows that a reasonable amount of screen time can actually be healthy for teens.  Researchers in the UK analyzed data that measured the screen time and well-being of just over 120,000 15-year-olds. They found that there was no direct link between screen time and well-being, but that those who used electronics more than a certain amount did experience decreased well-being. To be specific, on average, the teens' well-being peaked at “about 1 hours and 40 minutes of video-game play, about 1 hour 57 minutes of smartphone use, about 3 hours and 41 minutes of watching videos, and about 4 hours and 17 minutes of using computers.”  Any more than that, and the numbers trended toward unhappiness.

There are no magic (or even scientific) formulas to use, for your child is unique and wonderfully made by God. Beyond statistics, the bottom line is that as parents, you know your child’s heart and habits. You are in a position to observe whether screen time is making your child happy or sad, fulfilled or frustrated. There are so many factors to consider and ultimately, you want to encourage activities that enrich their life,and steer them away from those things that spawn dissatisfaction.

Avoiding negative screen time

If you identify a form of “screen time” that seems to be detrimental for your child (e.g., social media that leads to feeling left out, or a video game causing frustration), talk to them about it; help your child form their own conclusions about how to avoid it. Try to frame it in a positive, self-care context. This will be good for them now and in the future. If your child doesn’t choose to avoid it, you have the authority to place limits on their interaction with it. Or you can offer substitute forms of social interaction,entertainment, or whatever they are getting out of it.

Moderating positive screen time.

For any form of “screen time” that seems to make your child happy (e.g., chatting with good friends or building in Minecraft), it is still wise to encourage a time limit. Some clear-cut ways to set limits on screen time include the following:

  • Allow “unlimited” screen time, but only after homework and chores are done.
  • Allow screen time only on weekends.
  • Allow only 30 minutes of screen time after school, as a little break before homework.
  • Allow screen time only when you are present to supervise or be involved.
  • Allow as much screen time as your child “earns” by doing specific chores with specific values set for each chore.

During any allotted screen time, you will still want to be sure that your child spends it on something that is edifying for them!

Limiting Websites.

If your child has access to the internet, consider using an app that can help you supervise what your child is doing online. Covenant Eyes and Disney Circle are two examples of products that you can use to filter and/or review what your child sees online. One mother told me recently that her daughter comes to her with questions instead of Googling things because she knows her Mom sees every site she visits. This has led to good conversations and more engagement that they may not have had. Now that’s a win-win!

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5 Tips For Keeping Life Simple for Families

Posted on Jan 19, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch


Today’s families are innundated with a seemingly endless array of choices, opportunities and physical belongings (aka “stuff”).  While it is good to have options, attempting to manage a life full of too many possibilities can certainly make daily living challenging and complicated.  If we’re not careful, we can easily lose sight of what is most important to us, including one another.

To help you overcome some of these challenges and complexities, here are some practical tips for keeping life simple for families.

1. Declutter Daily and Purge Periodically

Too much clutter can often lead to chaos and stress.  Before you and your family retire for the evening, take the time to clear floors and counter surfaces of items that do not belong where they’ve been left and return them to where they do belong.  Doing this on a regular basis can help keep the clutter to a minimum and help you and your family maintain a greater sense of peace.

When clutter starts to accumulate, set aside time to sort through your items and eliminate the things your family no longer wants or needs.  Devise a system that works best for your family.  For example, while a massive purge right before Christmas or at the end of the school year might work for some families, a room-by-room purge over time might be more effective for others.

2. Cut Down on Screen Time

Too much screen time can lead to overstimulation and information overload.  Exchange screen time for other worthwhile activities, such as reading, exercising, conversing face-to-face with one another and praying.

3. Leave Space

When purging and decluttering, be sure to leave extra space in drawers, on shelves and in closets.  This will allow your family to better manage clutter and will leave a little room for new items when necessary.

Take the time to create space in your schedule as well.  Leave margins between activities to reduce stress and make room for the unexpected.  Build downtime into your schedule and protect it to allow your family the time necessary to rest and re-energize.

keep life simple for families

4. Plan Ahead

Another way to minimize stress and prepare for the unexpected is to plan ahead.  For example, identify things you can do the night before to prepare for the day ahead and incorporate those activities into your evening routine.  This can help simplify your mornings and reduce the amount of hassle typically involved when trying getting everyone out the door on time.

5. Say Yes Less

Define your priorities as a family and make an effort to focus on the things that are most important to you.  If an invitation, request or activity does not align with your priorities, think twice before saying yes.

The practice of simplicity is intentional and takes effort. However, the work you do up front can lead to less stress and more joy for you and your family.

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The Information Overload Diet for Parents

Posted on Jan 9, 2016 6:30:00 AM by Kim Schlauch

Information overload

We live in a 24/7 world in which we can access just about any type of information we want in a matter of nanoseconds.  While this can be extremely beneficial in many ways, it can also be more than a bit overwhelming, especially when the information comes in faster than we can process it.  This nonstop flow can easily lead to information overload.

What do you do when you want to better manage your weight or achieve a healthier body?  It is highly likely that you would go on a food diet.  Well, if you want to better manage your consumption and processing of information to improve your mental well-being, you might consider going on an information overload diet.

Here are three components of an effective information overload diet.

1.  Manage Your Intake

An effective strategy for losing weight is to establish a regular meal schedule and limit grazing and snacking between meals.  Here are a few ways this concept can be applied to managing the intake of information:

  • Establish set times during the day to engage in email, social media and internet searches.

  • Set limits on the amount of time you spend on these activities.

  • Carve out time to disconnect to give yourself time to process the information that is currently on your plate (or in your mind).

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2.  Make Healthy Choices

Another effective way to lose weight is to limit the intake of sweets and to refrain from filling up on junk food.  Here’s how this idea can apply to managing information:

  • Don’t overindulge on “fluff,” or information with little redeeming value, especially when you begin to experience the symptoms of information overload.

  • Limit your choices.  When seeking information to make a decision, too many choices can lead to mental paralysis.  Set a time limit to gather information and then narrow your choices before making a decision.

3.  Exercise

Physical exercise offers a way to burn calories and purge the body of excess fat.  When managing information overload, mental exercise can help purge your brain, render you more clear-headed, and enhance your memory.  Here are some mental exercise ideas:

  • Make lists.  This exercise can help you keep track of, organize, and prioritize your tasks and responsibilities.  Depending on your personal organizational style, you can use a mobile device, app, or pen and paper to do this.

  • Journal.  This activity offers a great way for you to offload and process the information swirling around in your head.  Journaling can be as simple as jotting down a few bullet points or more elaborate, such as composing detailed sentences or paragraphs.  It doesn’t matter if it is typed or written by hand.  It can be done several times a day or once or twice a week.  The point is not the process, but the practice of mental purging and processing.  Do whatever works for you.

Similar to a food diet, an information overload diet requires commitment and discipline.  But the rewards are certainly worth it.

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Topics: time management

3 Ways to Ensure Your Child is Ready For School Every Day

Posted on May 2, 2014 8:00:00 AM by Kim Schlauch

How would you best describe your weekday mornings: smooth sailing or stress city?  I would venture to guess that many parents identify more with the latter.  So what can be done to minimize challenges and frustrations in the mornings and get the day off to a good start? Learning and practicing the three R’s of morning readiness, Responsibility, Routine, and Respect, would be a good way to begin.


 1. Responsibility

 While it may seem easier to take charge in the mornings, your involvement where it may not necessarily be needed only teaches your child to be dependent upon you to complete the tasks he is capable of completing himself.  And, while it may cause some pain and discomfort in the short term, you need to find ways to shift the responsibility for getting ready in the morning to your child.

Your job is to set the expectations and teach your child to complete her morning routine as independently as possible.  How can you accomplish this?  By setting a consistent routine.


2. Routine

First, make a list of all the things that need to be taken care of before you leave for school each day.  Identify the items that your child is able to accomplish and create a checklist for your child.  This not only serves as a visual reminder of the tasks that need to be completed each day, but offers your child a sense of ownership in the process.

Keep in mind that a school day morning actually begins the night before.  Determining items on the list that can be accomplished before bedtime, such as picking out clothes or making lunch can save time and reduce stress in the morning.

Stay organized.  Designate a spot near the door to store backpacks and other items needed for the next school day, such as gym clothes or school projects.  Identify a location for “action items” (e.g. permission slips) and train your child to put those items in that location for your review.

Whatever methods you choose to employ, consistency is the key to the success of any routine.


3. Respect

Instilling a sense of trust instead of fear can go a long way in minimizing struggles and creating an environment of respect.  While each family member has the same end goal, getting out the door on time, understand there are different ways to reach that goal.  Rather than trying to get your child to do things your way, be respectful of his or her choices, as long as those choices do not impede upon achieving the goal.  For example, if your child is having difficulty completing all her morning tasks on time, offer her the choice to either get up earlier to allow more time complete the tasks or to choose additional tasks to take care of the night before.  

Once you’ve set the expectations and established a morning routine, don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk as well.  By modeling the behavior you are looking for, not only will you set the example, you are more likely to steer clear of stress city and be on your way to smooth sailing each and every day!

Topics: time management