This month, we have two moms dealing with two very different #momlife situations. Sometimes daily routines can be a daily struggle. One mom is seeking advice on how best to not share her phone with her toddler, while the other would like to implement more sit-down dinners with her family.
Q: Is it ridiculous to get an iPad or a Kindle for my 4-year-old? I feel like there are some great apps and games that would be useful for him. I am also nervous about always sharing my devices!
Dear iPad Inquiring Mom,
You are right! There are many apps designed for younger children these days, and many of these are also educational, which can help prepare them for school while making learning fun. Age-appropriate games can be wonderful interactive experiences for young minds and may improve their math, vocabulary, and language skills. And it’s always fun to video call to stay connected with loved ones who live far away. With that being said, I would still be cautious about having an iPad or Kindle for your 4-year-old. At that tender age, screen time should be very limited (experts recommend no more than 1 hour a day on weekdays) and too much of it contributes to undesirable behavior like tantrums, shortened attention spans, and lack of self-regulation. Also, there is no substitute for sensory development that accompanies playing with real toys, board games, real face-to-face interactions, creative free play, and the physical exertion of playing outside. If you keep to the recommended time of 1 hour a day on a screen, would sharing one of your devices with your 4-year-old still be a big imposition? If so, getting your little one an iPad or Kindle could be a wonderful tool for them as long as screen time is moderated.
A few moms have shared thoughts on screens for their children that you can read about here:
Kids & Technology: Why We Should Be Thanking Our Tablets & Smartphones
Why My 11-Year Old Isn’t Getting a Smartphone
Big Learning Apps for Little Kids
Mom Friend to Young Minds
Q: This is going to sound so silly, but I want to have a formal dinner at home with my family. My family typically grabs the food as I am pulling it from the stove and heads off to eat in the family room or wherever their current activity is, and I end up eating alone. It is depressing. How can I get my family to sit down to a set dinner table if I can’t even get it fully off the stove before they are eating?
Dear Family Dinner Desiring Mom,
I feel you, and I applaud you! Formally sitting down to a family dinner together has so many benefits, and I have a few suggestions to start this ceremony with your family.
- Find one family member to help you encourage everyone to sit together and enjoy a meal, if only for 10 minutes the first time. And no TV or screens at the table.
- Have a fun topic ready to chat about as a family. Who doesn’t love hearing about someone’s most embarrassing moment?
- Have the table set before cooking dinner, possibly hours before so as they are coming in and out of the kitchen, they’ll notice it. This sets the expectation for everyone that the family will be eating at the table TOGETHER. Announce to them that you’ll be eating at the table together tonight if you must.
- If they’re grabbing the food off the stove before you can stop them, cook a casserole in the oven. I’d suggest lasagna! When it’s ready, remove it from the oven and place it on the already set table and take a seat. Serve yourself first and as they serve their plates say, “Please sit and join me here at the table. I’ve set it for us.”
- Have your first formal sit down as a family on a weekend morning — who doesn’t love Saturday breakfast? It doesn’t have to be a big pancake, eggs, and bacon feast either. Pastries, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, juice, and coffee might be enough to start a family meal tradition on the weekends.
Regardless of which meal you attempt to start the family breaking bread together, start with preparing meals easily served from the table, that has already been set, and have one family member agree to sit with you for the meal. Maybe your fun conversation will spark the other family members to join you! If those strategies don’t work, find a time to share with your family how important it is to you to sit down and have meals together without distraction. Ask for one family dinner during the week and one on the weekend and go from there.
Mom Friend to Family Dinners
Do you have a question for the Jacksonville Mom team? Nothing is off-limits. Submit them here!