Your kids have two weeks off for the holiday break and you’re worried. What will they do? How will they spend their time? Will everyone get along? And, will they stay out of trouble?
Long breaks are bittersweet. We love the extra time with our children, but the lack of routine can make for difficult days. So, before school lets out and families gather, make some plans. Plan how your children will spend their days, and plan to protect their devices.
Plan Your Time
Sit with your children and ask how they intend to fill their days while they are home. Do they have homework? Are they hoping to get together with friends? What holiday traditions are they looking forward to? Discuss their expectations and yours. Some topics you may want to cover include bed time, time they should get up in the morning, the amount of time they are allowed to spend on screens, and daily chores you want them to accomplish. Then brainstorm non-screen time activities. Grab the board games from the back of the closet, write a meal plan together, and make a list of favorite places to visit.
Planning ahead and adding structure to the break helps everyone understand expectations and keep emotions in check. When our children get bored and don’t have direction, they are more apt to feel lonely or depressed. They may also spend extra time on their phones, which also leads to anxiousness and strife. When they have a purpose and a strategy, they feel useful and are more joyful.
Here are more ideas to help start your list:
- Have a friend night.
- Drive around town and look at lights.
- Read aloud as a family.
- Plan a movie night.
- Bake cookies.
- Cook s’mores over a fire.
- Go shopping together.
Lean into your children’s likes. Do they enjoy crafting? Are they avid readers? Are they musical? Ask how you can help them hone their skills over the break.
Think of ways to assist others. Do your children have clothes they can donate? (This is a great time to clean out that closet!) Can they volunteer at a local non-profit? When shopping, are they willing to purchase an extra item to give away? Focusing on others lightens our mood and lifts our spirits.
Plan to Protect Devices
Christmas is a great time to purchase new devices. But we want to safeguard our children by adding protective features before we hand them over to our children. According to a recent Common Sense Media report, 58% of teens surveyed said they encountered pornography accidentally. So, plan to protect your children from stumbling across pornography accidentally.
- Start by adding a filter to your Wi-Fi router or use a Wi-Fi router with a built-in filter. I recommend Gryphon (use this affiliate link for $10 off) or Bark Home Internet filter. With these filters, you can manage the internet connected devices in your home. For more extensive information on Wi-Fi routers and what they do, read The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Routers at Protect Young Eyes.
- The next level of protection is at the device level. Add a filter on each Smartphone, computer, iPad, etc., like Covenant Eyes (use this affiliate link for 30 days free) or Canopy (use promo code Hopefulmom to receive a 7 day free trial and a 20% discount on subscriptions).
- Then be sure to use the parental controls on the device and for each app. You’ll want to open the product and add this information to a newly-purchased item before gifting it to your child. If you’re confused about which phone or watch to purchase for your child, read Secure Your Holidays: Complete Kid-Safe Smartphone and Watch Guideat Defend Young Minds.
- Last, but mostly importantly, have open, ongoing, honest discussions with your children about online dangers. Ask them questions and educate them about the harms. Remind them that you love them and it’s your job to keep them safe. These conversations solidify your relationship and create an atmosphere in which your child feels comfortable talking with you about any problems they have now or in the future.
We hope your holiday break is full of joy and family fun!
Barb Winters is a Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, author of Sexpectations: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Healthy Relationships, and founder of Hopeful Mom.