Don’t let mobile phones and tablets ruin your family holiday! Travel can be a wonderful way for a family to share new and exciting experiences, explore different cultures and learn about the history of a country immersed in its very streets. However, these nostalgic and well-intended notions can quickly be replaced by the handy mobile phone or tablet as children all over the world tune out to there surroundings and tune into the latest youtube video or game. As a Nanny, the biggest challenge I often faced was how to keep children off the TV or Tablet with most hotels and accommodation fully equipt with the latest videos, games, and technology. But I am here today to give you some tips on ways you can manage your child’s screen time and strike the perfect balance on your family holiday.
1: Involve your child in your planning
Give them resources such as guidebooks, attraction flyers, and maps and create a plan that suits everyone.
This can be a challenge and you won’t always find excursions that interest your whole family, so be creative by:
- Splitting off into smaller groups if possible.
- Making sure you take turns with the different sights of interest so that everyone feels valued.
- Ensuring there is balance on the day try to do one informational outing such as a museum or art gallery followed by something more hands-on and fun in the afternoon. These ‘fun’ outings can also be used if needed to entice good behavior or a fair attitude to each other’s interests.
- Seek out alternative ways to explore a city. Look into Segway tours, Bike tours, and Graffiti tours…
- Explore other options…. If you know your child is going to hate seeing a Shakespeare play and it’s going to be a real battle see if you can arrange for a babysitter or maybe one of our movie nights, that way everyone is happy and having fun.
2: Keep busy!!
Get out and about and avoid spending too much time stuck in hotel rooms in front of those big screens. Downtime can be spent at playgrounds, in parks and in gardens relaxing in the sun. If you’re in London in the summertime I recommend getting out of the city and heading down to Brighton beach where there is something for everyone and what we Londoners like to think of as a beach.
Other things that can help is finding:
- Easy and non-messy crafts to do
- Playdough….. it really is for everyone!
- Create a travel journal with pictures and treasures.
- Find a book where its story is set in London
As a Nanny, I would often teach the children something new such as knitting or sewing. Perhaps you have some craft skills you never have time for that you can share with your child on holiday?
3: Limit or set fair expectations for use:
These days there are many apps that can help parents to set usage times on tablets so that children are unable to use them during unscheduled times in the day. Tablets and Phones can be useful when everyone needs some downtime and you’re all squashed in a hotel room, however, I would recommend that the Tablet is put away well before its time to get out and about in the morning and at least an hour before bed. There has been significant evidence pointing to sleep-related problems and the use of screens before bed. Other times that tablets can be shut off is during meal times if needed.
If your child is more of a movie buff and enjoys watching the TV again make clear times for TV watching avoiding the hour before bed and meal times. Perhaps turn your child’s TV enthusiasm into a positive by turning it into a movie night as a family with a few snacks all snuggled up under the covers.
4: Don’t let the Tablet leave the room:
No matter how portable and easy it is to carry around an Ipad or Tablet try to leave it at home that way you are removing a good part of the battle. Not only will this help with keeping everyone engaged at meal times and throughout the day but it will ensure it doesn’t get lost or stolen. I remember my youngest brother losing his Ipad simply by leaving it on the coach. We realized it had been left on the seat just 10 minutes after departing the coach but by then it was gone. This I’m sure is not the only case of the left and lost but certainly, an event to remember. Also, It’s important to know that although London is a safe city there has been a rise in mobile phone thefts by cyclists and scooter riders who will just ride up and snatch it out of your hand so try to keep your phones in your pocket unless you need to use it.
Being away from home can be hard for some children and sometimes the TV or tablet is just them going back to what is familiar and habitual. Be honest about your expectations for screen use and be fair! Your child is not going to comply if they feel that you’re not sharing the same values or rules that you are setting. Put your phone away, Turn off your Ipad and make sure that you’re setting the right example.
I’m sure you all have some good pointers to share and we would love to hear them! Please feel free to share your pointers in the comments below.