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Dear Parents Who Feel Powerless In The Screen Time Battle,

Let me begin by assuring you that I understand. I get it. Because I am there.

I’m exhausted, you see. This parenting gig is not for the faint of heart. And when you haven’t yet had your cup of coffee, and the dishes are stacked high, and the cat threw up on the carpet, and bills haven’t been paid, and the eggs haven’t been scrambled, and a whole sack of burden weighs heavy on your shoulders….and then they ask to watch TV….or just grab for the remote themselves….there is little fight left within you.

I know.

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Let me also say, that because I am right there with you, I will be the first to share that I believe that a bit of screen time has its proper place.

I, like any other parent, know that there is a time and a place for media. Life is full of seasons that ebb and flow with various needs. When a new baby is on the way, or one has just arrived. Or during a move to a new house. Or when a parent is sick. Or when mom needs an hour to regroup and rest. These are all times that I have allowed my kids a little bit extra screen time.

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But there is a fine and disastrous line that when crossed, children and families suffer. In today’s world where screens rule and media is here to stay, we as parents must stand guard. We must protect our families. And we must train our children to know that media is a tool, not a master.

I have waded in those waters of guilt. I have allowed the TV to become habit, my default go-to for keeping the kids occupied. I have sighed in exasperation as I clicked “Play” on just one more episode. Or maybe two. Because I just can’t parent anymore today.

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And then that nagging guilt settles on my shoulders. The last thing that us parents need is more guilt.

So can I lift that burden, if just for a moment? Can I offer you a little bit of hope?

Parents— we are not powerless in this battle.

We have the final say.

And it may be ugly for a little while. There may be wailing and gnashing of teeth. There may be hard glares and slammed doors. There may be toddler tantrums and teenage….well…tantrums.

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But I bet you this:  the storm will roll through and come to pass. And you just might be surprised at how your children adjust to a less screen-saturated routine.

Oh, it will be hard work, and demand hard resolve. You’ll probably fail a time or two. Or ten. You’ll probably go back to old ways, then restart. And restart again.

But each time you make that intentional decision to turn off the screens and claim back power over your kid’s childhood—your family will be better for it.

You see, this screen time battle is not an all-or-nothing matter. Rather, it is a step-by-step journey towards a more fulfilled family, and a more abundant life. It’s a process which there is plenty of grace for.

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When we hear that kids, on average, spend 205 waking weeks in front of a screen before they turn eighteen, it is overwhelming. We are up against a beast. Really, we are up against society. And we must be brave enough to do things differently. We must be driven enough to save our families, protect our legacies, and reclaim childhoods.

This is done one hour at a time. One family walk at a time. One game of Monopoly at a time. One tea party at a time. One forest hike at a time. One picnic at a time. One morning on the beach at a time.

One choice at a time.

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We’re in this together. So let’s not judge each other. After all, only you can decide how much screen time is appropriate for your family. No one else decides that for you. Instead, let’s cheer each other on, one day at a time, as we walk towards a life that really matters. Let’s collaborate in this mission together.

Let’s schedule more play dates at the park, group hikes, and backyard bonfires. After all, every one of us parents desires for our children to have a bright future; one illuminated not by screens, but by “Hey, remember when….” moments. So let’s create more of those moments together, and redeem those 205 weeks to make them into all they can be. Our families depend on it.

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This post is part of the #RedeemThe205 campaign, aimed at inspiring families to reclaim the 205 waking weeks on average that a child spends in front of a screen. It’s time to redeem childhoods and protect our families.

Join The Journey by subscribing below for inspiration, hope, practical ideas, and giveaways. It’s time to #RedeemThe205

Eryn Lynum is a speaker and the author of 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting. (Bethany House Publishers, 2018) She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and three boys, where they spend their time hiking, camping, and exploring the Rocky Mountains. She loves to travel and share at conferences, churches, and writers’ groups. Every opportunity she gets, she is out exploring God’s creation with her family.

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