On balancing toddlers and technology

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We are preparing for our first international family trip, and just yesterday we were gifted with a tablet, which Mon Cœur (MC) has been intensely curious about. It has made me rethink how easy it is for me as an adult to get lost in my technology – what is necessary and what is detracting from quality time spent with family and friends.

Day (night) 1 – the introduction to the tablet

Last night was rough. I’ll be honest. MC was running off a wee 40 minute nap, and had had a busy day visiting friends at gymnastics and running around with her cousins, playing hide and seek.

The tablet was conveniently tucked away in a pink carrier, which MC called “her purse.” I told her to keep her purse closed until we got home – that we would look at it when we got home and sat on the couch.

When we got home, we opened it and she was so excited to see the books – we read a few. Then she found the games. When I told her we would need to put it away after a few minutes – she had a meltdown. We put the tablet above the refrigerator. She wanted it back, eventually I coaxed her to go take a bath and with Chouchou’s help, we did what we knew we needed to do – hide the tablet.

After MC finally went to sleep, Chouchou was adamant about getting rid of the tablet post-France. This is where I countered saying that’s a fine thought, but it’s important for MC to learn self control. We of course can’t take away everything that she acquires an “addiction” to and honestly, it was my fault for not having placed boundaries before getting the tablet out. I simply smiled and said, “Baby don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

Day 2 – we agree to tablet boundaries

Day two went much smoother. MC asked to be held up to see the top of the fridge this morning (see why I had to hide it?). So I held her up and she was shocked it had moved. I asked her what she was looking for. She said the tablet. Then I said, “Oh I know where it is. Why don’t you go wait on the couch. I’ll be right there.”

She had a choice about the limit.

I grabbed the tablet and I sat with her on the couch. I told her, “You pick – do you want to explore ten minutes on the tablet or read five books on the tablet?” She chose ten minutes.

I’ve talked about choices before, and I have become the spinner of choices. It seemed only fitting here to have her help by making a choice.

We set a time limit on the technology.

I always use Siri to set timers, so that MC hears my request and then Siri repeats it back. Then I try to keep an eye and give her a 5 and 1-2 minute heads up. I sat next to her the whole time, watching, and helping when needed.

I gave her her time warnings, and when it went off, I took the tablet, turned it off, and gave it back to her, asking her to put it away, and she did. There was some whimpering, and instead of saying “No,” I simply said, “Later. You can play with it again after your nap.” She was okay with that (Thank you again, Joanna Faber & Julie King – smile!) Done.

There was an activity lined up immediately afterwards.

We moved on to another activity. Luckily, we had a visitor this morning, so MC went and got dressed so we could go outside. We spent the morning walking and working in Millie’s garden.

I waited for MC to ask to play with the tablet again this afternoon. When she did, she said, “Ten minutes, okay?” But I gave her fifteen, just because I’m also trying to figure it out too, and I was sitting with her again. We set the timer and started playing.

When I gave her her five minute warning, I told her we would also need to charge it. The timer went off five minutes later and, I had her help me plug it in and told her it needed to sleep and rest. Again there was a little bit of whining, but I just proposed playing with play-doh, and since she hasn’t played with it in a while, she was super excited.

We had a busy rest of the evening with dinner, bath, and reading books, so she really didn’t have any time to ask about it again.

The tablet’s rested and recharged and back in its spot. Who knows what day three will bring. However I’m hoping that with little chunks of time, with set time limits and activities to do afterwards we will be able to balance the toddler and the technology.

Do you have any ideas about balancing toddlers and technology?

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