As a new mom, I was thinking about how youth services librarians, early childhood development professionals, and storytime providers go about incorporating their knowledge into parenting. Sometimes, parents at storytime may feel overwhelmed by trying to utilize all these skills at home, especially when it comes to minimizing screen time and maximizing real world interaction. There are so many messages about screen time and kids, and so few real world strategies for what to actually DO that works as well for quieting a 2 year old having a meltdown in Target as well as giving her an iPad. So, I thought I’d ask some experts who I know are working hard at parenting with early childhood best practices in mind to share the nitty gritty of how they do it.
Our first guest post is by my high school friend Amanda Villaveces, who has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and was a Montessori teacher for 10 years. Here’s what she told me:
Ok, here are my thoughts – we as a family generally do 4 things that keep our screen time down and keep us otherwise entertained.
1. Have materials available (very Montessori). The boys have a play area in every room of the house with toys and books. They can reach all the materials they need (eg Max has all his art supplies in the closet where he can grab them, but Theo can’t because he’s 18mo and would paint the walls if he could).
2. We encourage creativity by being creative with them. I’ll paint my own picture and Max will grab materials and join me or Joe will be working on some electronics project and invite them to watch.
3. We take care of ourselves so we have to the energy to stay creative and and patient and engaging. As the “primary” care giver since my husband works full time and I work part time, I have more kid duty, and cleaning and shopping duty etc. I had to learn when to tag him in so I could recharge.
4. We use TV wisely. We don’t own an actual TV because we bought a projector when Max was born (since we knew it would be a decade before we went to a movie theater again ) and so TV isn’t easily accessible. But we do watch it and when we do, we try to make it count. We have family movie nights or watch nature docs (sometimes Max will say “ugh can’t we just watch a fiction show today?” But he does love Attenborough). We also use TV when we need a time out but the other parent isn’t free. So if the kids are watching a show and I’m exhausted I try to make it count by reading during that time or taking a a hot shower, anything to help relax and recharge.
All that being said I think I should throw in- we encourage outside play, play dates, and we have a dog.