As a nanny it seems pretty obvious to think that parents employ their nanny to care for their children and entertain them, not to have their children sitting in front of their phones, iPads, games consoles and TV screens.
I think many nannies can safely say as they walk out of the door at the end of the day the first thing to happen will be the TV being switched on or the iPad coming out, yet those children may well have spent the whole day playing happily with board games, making arts and crafts or outside at the park.
Maybe you do work for a family who do allow their children to have screen time with their nanny, if this is the case you here are some ideas on how to manage screen time and not have it rule your day-
- Time Management- Give children a set time for computer time and TV time, for younger children this might be 2 episodes of a TV programme or 10 lives in a computer game. For older children suggest 30 minutes TV time and 30 minutes computer time, they can bank it up if they have days they don’t use it which will give them a sense of control over their time.
- Family Screen Time- Have adult and child time that isn’t using their allowance of time but shows them the value of the internet and how useful it can be. Search for activities that you can do together, ask older children to find a recipe they would like for dinner, search for local attractions, use Skype to talk to family members who might be away or just have a movie afternoon together after a busy period. Not all screen time is about zoning out or spending it alone.
- Don’t Reward With Screen Time- It might seem like an easy thing to do and rewarding children for good behaviour or tasks done, but in the long run they will see their screen time as so much more important and you might get hit with having to reward too much screen time once they work out just what they need to do.
- Have Fun- The more fun you have and exciting activities the less likely screen time will be desired. Go out and have fun, get creative on the kitchen table and use screen time for times of illness, tiredness or those moments when you just have to get something done!
For those of you who work with families who don’t allow screen time with their nanny but do allow it with parents I feel for you! I’m no fan of seeing little ones swiping on iPads and playing with their parents phone, but I know full well how hard it is to not be the bad guy when you’re not allowed to turn a TV on during your 10 hour day whilst it’s the first thing a parent will do when they are in charge. Maybe I’m old school and don’t see a need for TV before breakfast, or an iPad in the car to entertain children, but I do know some children do just need half an hour of quiet time. If you don’t have the luxury of a TV then go to the library and borrow some CD’s. For those children moving away from nap time but don’t know how to switch off and rest for half an hour then listening to a CD can be the perfect time for them to stop sit and listen. A children’s CD in the car is also a great boredom reliever and for those older children after school a language/alphabet/time table CD can also be a great way to keep them learning.