cell phone

Before Screen Time Activities

As promised in my last blog, I am going to share some details of my family’s summer with you.  One of the things I feel strongly about is not letting my kids spend hours on their screens every day.  Yes, there are some awesome educational activities on electronics, but for the most part, our kids are not engaged in these activities.

Below is our list of “Before Screen Time Activities.” My daughters must complete these before they are allowed to play on their phones, watch a movie, or be involved in any other screen time. I hope if you were looking for ideas that our list inspires you to create a list that works for your family.

I’ve included a link at the bottom of the post where you can get a copy of a ‘pretty’ version to print out.


This is such an important meal for growing (and aging) bodies.  It is important to me that my girls get a healthy start to their day.  They are old enough to make their own breakfast, so I don’t have to be in charge of that. I will encourage them to eat a variety of things so we don’t get hooked on a “cereal every morning” path.


This is a quick run through on our main floor to make sure that all of their stuff has been put away.  I prefer this to be done in the evening before bed, but sometimes…life happens.


We have daily and weekly chores.  Daily chores include things like setting/clearing the table, unloading the dishwasher, and feeding the dog – most of which are done in the evening, so it would be hard to check this one off early in the day.  Weekly chores are bigger and these are the ones I expect to be done for this list.  Some examples of our weekly chores include doing laundry (my girls have been doing laundry since they were 4!), vacuuming, mopping, cleaning their bathroom, and making a healthy dinner for our family.

READ 30+ MINUTES (something NON-electronic)mom and daughter reading

My girls love to read but, now that they are older, they don’t read as many ‘fun’ books during the school year.  Summer is a great time for them to read for fun.  We ask friends what their favorite books are and check out the library summer reading program for ideas, too.  Speaking of which, most libraries have a reading program for children of all ages (adults, too) with events and prizes, so make sure to visit your library this summer!


My girls are very active during the school year with PE, soccer, band, running, Tae Kwan Do, and more.  I worry that if exercise is not something intentional this summer, it might not happen.  That’s why it is on this list.  I’m pretty flexible with what they do (hanging out at the pool, running, playing soccer, walking the dog) and I will allow them to listen to their electronics while exercising.


I went back and forth on how long I wanted ‘writing’ to be.  The goal is to encourage 30 minutes of writing, but I don’t think that is realistic every day.  I will provide my daughters with a fun basket full of stationary, stickers, colorful pens and envelopes.  They can write letters to grandparents, family, friends, or they can create poems, stories, or scavenger hunts.  If they get stuck, I also have a lot of writing prompts.


When my girls were young, they would earn one minute of screen time for each minute of violin practice and one minute for each song they played.  It was a great motivator and they really didn’t spend much time on screens.  At that time, most kids did not have their own cell phones so I could regulate when the tv/video was on or when they played on the computer.girl playing violin

Now, cell phones are how kids communicate with each other, mostly texting, not actually talking on the phone.  It is their way of “play” so I am a little less strict. However, some of you reading this will think my rules are crazy strict. 🙂  I do try to limit their screen time, as you might have guessed by this list.  My hope is to get my daughters engaged in other activities, so they reach for their phones/screens less often.


It’s summer! I always tell my kids that I am extremely generous with sun screen (slop it on).  I’m a lot less generous with chocolate!  Being outside is something that can be done in conjunction with many of the other activities (i.e., exercising, reading, writing).


I want my kids to learn that they are part of the family and that means participating in everything.  Some days I might have big tasks to answer this question (help clean the basement) while other days the tasks could be relatively small or easy (give me a hug! Bake chocolate chip cookies).


Click on the link below to download a PDF:




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