Media images of the “perfect” holidays can be discouraging, since real life never looks like that. Some families agree to drastically reduce screen time during the holidays, simply to reduce the pressure to be perfect – and perfectly consuming! – families. The extra time for family games and other more intimate connecting often improves kids’ behavior and ushers in a new, permanent era of less screen time.

What better month than December to reduce your screen usage? Here's your plan!

Yes, you need a plan, because as soon as you reduce screens, your child will immediately begin to complain of boredom. If you have more than one child, they'll start fighting. That's because you just cut off your child's dopamine input. 

What they need now is connection with you, and fun activities to fill that need. You can do this! Here's how.

1. Prepare yourself emotionally to be more present.

Sure, that means you'll be less productive, but who are you being productive for? Use this time to involve your kids in holiday prep and make some lovely memories together. Once you connect with your child, they will be ready to spend some time engaged in a self-directed activity.

2. Facilitate your child's creative flow.

Set your child up for success by helping them get started on open-ended play or imaginative crafts that are holiday related. They can make drawings to send as presents, make holiday decorations, or make holiday foods for a play restaurant.

3. Be available for transitions.

Anticipate that all play activities will reach a natural ending and be prepared to help them transition. Fill their love tank with a roughhousing session to get them laughing and then calm down by reading some holiday books. 

Now your child will be ready for a self-directed activity. If they can't think of one, invite them to join you with whatever you're working on.

This is a big transition, but so worth it, and what better time? December gives us so many options for family activities, and screens just steal the time available to do them. You'll find more resources below to get you started.

Handling Boredom: Why It's Good for Your Child
Your Age-by-Age Guide to Screen Free Activities Your Child Can Do With Minimal Supervision
What's So Special About Special Time?
Making "Special-Time" Effective
Your Toddler or Preschooler and TV
Activities for Kids To Do Without a lot of Parental Intervention