Adios, iPad!


Are you a parent that has fallen into the iPad or tablet trap? Especially over the summer? I was! Even as a mental health professional, knowing full well how challenging electronics can be for kids, I slipped into allowing it repeatedly for our daughter. My husband and I were uncomfortably comfortable passing off the iPad to her because it was just plain easier.

Making dinner? Here’s the iPad.

Important phone call? Here’s the iPad.

Long car ride? Here’s the iPad.

H-E-B trip? Here’s the iPad.

Need to work from home? Here’s the iPad.

(and the most relatable …) Just want some peace and quiet? Here’s the dang iPad.

Let me start by saying electronic use isn’t bad! I’m not here to shame anyone for doing whatever they have to do in order to get a moment to themselves. We really try to focus on using screen time for the purpose of everyone getting their needs met. But I know, with my kiddo, the extended use of the iPad was causing stress in our household; none of us were becoming the best version of ourselves by allowing it to be our default. And the longer I waited to get rid of it, the worse it got.

But it’s hard. It’s hard to break a habit and the habit wasn’t even an everyday thing. I dreaded throwing a major wrench into her world, but when she began to ask for it more frequently and became somewhat obsessed, we knew it was time to put an end to the monster we were creating.

If we attempted to redirect, she would throw a fit and whine … endlessly. I knew it would be a beast to cut back on (or possibly eliminate altogether), but my husband and I joined forces and took on the challenge. We first agreed to only allow the iPad on weekends, as if it were a special treat; “iPad time is not for school days”, we’d say. I’ll be honest, the first week was rough. There were several meltdowns and her teeny tiny brain couldn’t comprehend why mom and dad had abruptly taken this precious little device from her. I wanted to bang my head against the wall listening to the whining and crying but we powered through, and after 5 days of zero screen time after school … IT GOT BETTER.

After a couple weeks, we moved to only Friday’s because we still had some angry toddler issues on the weekends. Go figure. So here we were, faced with cutting back even more and again, the first weekend was difficult because she only had 30 minutes after school that Friday. We redirected her attention to being outside more, playing games, drawing, etc. It didn’t always go so well, but eventually it stuck … IT GOT BETTER.

Then … vacation came. We decided to not take that little thing on the airplane. Crazy, right? But she shocked us. The allure of the airport, airplane ride, and a whole week of vacation actually helped her desire the iPad less. She was so busy with other fun things that she completely forgot about it. Transitioning back into the real world was honestly easier than we anticipated and once were were home … she simply stopped asking to have it … IT GOT BETTER!

She will still ask from time to time, but it’s rare. We do our best to engage her attention elsewhere and make the use of the iPad a true treat, when it’s a necessity. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not here to shame you into being a no electronic household! We just wanted B-A-L-A-N-C-E. We’re still human and life happens – so, if, rather when, you see us out and my kiddo has the iPad in her hands, pretend like you see nothing!

I don’t have any magic tools but I do encourage PERSEVERANCE. Count on it being hard, but go into it knowing the reward will be so great. If you’re thinking of cutting back on or eliminating electronics, may the force be with you – you will surely need it!

Has your family had success in this arena? If so, please share tips and tricks in the comments below. And as always, tag @wacomoms in your tech free adventures!

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Natalie is a born and raised Texan originally from Kerrville, Texas who is a hill country girl at heart. She graduated from Texas Woman's University with her master's in Counseling and is in private practice at Waco Psychological Associates as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Natalie married a Baylor bear and is blessed with two sweet girls, Hadley and Rylanne. We also have a son, Calvin James in heaven who was born in March of 2018 and is held near and dear to our hearts, daily! We love calling Waco, home. In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors, good music, anything sport-related (former soccer player here), and making memories with family and friends. Feel free to follow her on Instagram @natpaigejones