School’s Out For Summer! (on the mixed blessing of school vacation for working parents)

School summer vacation can be a great time for downtime. But this extra time can also be too much of a good thing, leading to too much screen time for both dads and kids. I need your help!

This summer, I want to spend time doing this...
This summer, I want to spend more time doing this…

I’m technically not employed by FDU for the summer (although I always have class prep and, of course, writing to do). So, I am so incredibly lucky to be home to share the summer with Nick. Nick just ended third grade (where does the time go!), and Amy’s both rehearsing a show and directing a youth theater program. Nick will be going to a local camp from 9-3 on Tuesdays through Thursdays and has gymnastics on Monday and Friday afternoons. This means lots more me-and-Nick time, which is 95% awesome, with a small downside.

and this...
and this…

Nick and I share one vice- the siren song of the computer/tablet screen. It will be deceptively easy for Nick and me to slide into the pattern of:

  • Nick comes home from a busy day at camp (art, swimming, tag, etc.) and needs some downtime on Clash of Clans (which has now replaced Minecraft as the obsession du jour).
  • So, I take a few minutes to respond to a few emails, edit the latest blog post, check ESPN.com and work on the book proposal.
  • Aaack, two hours have passed!
and less time doing this!
and less time doing this! HELP!

I have a few ideas about how to prevent this, but I’d like to solicit your help and advice.

My ideas so far:

  • Once I drop Nick off at camp, drive straight to the library or a Panera or a Starbucks to work, instead of coming home and (probably) procrastinating. That way, I get through almost all of my stuff before he gets home
  • Work out “no screen hours” with Nick, say 4-6 every day
  • Develop a new hobby or regular ritual– like an evening bike ride- to do most nights
  • …and , that’s literally all I’ve got…

So, please share your best ideas with me on how to prevent my son and me from “screen-sucking”- wasting valuable dad-and-son time staring at our respective glowing rectangles.

How do you check yourself when you find work time encroach on family time? Any tips to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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7 thoughts on “School’s Out For Summer! (on the mixed blessing of school vacation for working parents)

  1. I have created specific “days” for specific activities: Mondays is tv day… we can sit and watch tv together with my girls. Tuesday is reading day (real book not reading in your tablet or computer). Wednesday is music day, we practice with our instruments (guitar, flute, violin, etc.) Thursday is cooking day, we try to cook dinner together and involve everyone in the preparation. Friday is going out day… we go to the park, movies, or something fun. It helps us to plan the week and find time to stay busy and not just get absorbed by the “screen”.
    I like your article! Thanks!
    Claudio

    • Claudio- first, thanks for reading and your very helpful comment.

      I’m not sure I’ll be quite as well-planned as that, but your larger point of building in a schedule into each day and each week is an important one. Thanks

  2. Scott – love this and the work you are doing! I like what Claudio has to say too. The idea (rule) of creating days w/o any screen time is one that has had real staying power in our house (although we allow for some flexibility). You can build on Claudio’s idea by also saying one or two days per week you’ll go on some kind of adventure together- maybe kayaking or hiking locally. Then, you can agree on a different day that you can write, draw and / or discuss your experiences of that day after some time has gone by to reflect on them. Makes for a potentially good history, geography, or science lesson too.

    Be well and cheers to summer!

    Jane

  3. Scott, I think your first idea is best: get your screen time in while he is at camp. If you’re fully there for him, and not on the screen yourself,when he gets home, he may have an out of sight, out of mind attitude about the screen. But I will say this too: our kids and others of their generation will have more screen time than we did growing up. It may not be all bad, as long as some outside time is included too.

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