Like many parents working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown, I struggle to stay productive while also helping my kids with their school work. However, despite all our daily planning and scheduling, kids are spending more time than ever online, whether that be for school video conferences, chats with friends, content, and video platforms like YouTube, TV, or games.
Understandably, many parents struggle with the amount of screen time that kids are getting during this quarantine period and feeling guilty about it.
So what can we do?
Well, first of all, we should recognize that not all screen time is created equal. For me, there is a big difference between kids delving into some of the technology tools that foster creativity, like iMovie, Flip a Clip or WURRLYedu, versus watching yet another episode of SpongeBob SquarePants (no offense to the much loved classic but too much of a good thing could perhaps be true).
Seek out technology that augments the imagination and heightens their creativity and wipe away your guilt. Also, encouraging your kids to play with these solutions may potentially ignite a passion that leads to a career.
Secondly, don’t discount the power of audio-only. Switching up the routine so that they spend time just listening without the visual stimuli can be a breath of fresh air, and highly productive too. Here are a few examples of musical activities to keep kids occupied:
1. Challenge your kids to create a personal playlist. Have them create a feel-good playlist or a playlist for studying or exercising. This is a fun way to engage kids and it’s an ongoing activity. Their playlists can be updated daily, weekly, or whenever the mood strikes, in fact starting a conversation about what emotions are reflected in a song can lead to higher emotional recognition skills.
2. Adopt a song of the day. This is a fun way to bond over music and hear what type of songs appeal to them and why. Again this can be a daily activity over breakfast lunch or dinner and you’ll be surprised what they come up with.
3. Ask your kids to arrange a family karaoke, lip-sync, or dance party where they are the DJ, and therefore in charge of finding an appropriate playlist, and setting up the performance space, etc. The reward of the party at the end of all that event planning is worth it.
4. Look into beat making software or just record a loop and rap over it! Or have your kids create a band out of everyday household items, like spoons. Anything that makes a noise works, then have them play along to a song.
5. Challenge your kids to create one-take music videos then stream it through your TV for full glory.
Lastly, remember that this time is temporary. We will (hopefully) not be quarantining forever, and this time too shall pass. So aim for moderation and celebrate the time to bond and the resulting creativity that all this time cooped up inside may invoke.