This School Year’s Game Plan for Screen Time

parenting upstream in a go with the flow world

Guest Post by my friend Arlene Pellicane

{Scroll down for a great giveaway!}

When you walk into a cell phone store, you have a dizzying array of plans to choose from. In the same way you choose a cellular plan to suit your family’s needs, you need a digital plan for screen use in your home. How much time per day is allowed? Which shows, games, and social networks are approved? Without a working plan, your child’s time will erode into mindless screen time and entertainment that usually runs counter to everything you are trying to instill as a mother.

Maybe you are unhappy with how screen time went last year. Good news – the school year is around the corner and you have a new chance to put a plan in place.

Remember these are suggestions to get your brain in gear. Pick and choose what you need – remember you don’t have to replicate anyone’s plan including mine. You just need wisdom to devise the best plan for you and your kids (and stick with it). We’ll begin with the Pellicane game plan, otherwise known as “The Dinosaur Plan.”

None of our three kids have a gaming device, tablet, or phone. Now granted they are younger (ages 5, 8 and 10). But my 10-year-old son has never played Minecraft which puts him in an elite category!

The kids use our laptop for homework which ends up being about two hours a week. When James and I were first married sixteen years ago, he asked to do a “no-cable” trial period of one month. I agreed reluctantly and to make a long story short, we haven’t had cable since. We choose what the kids watch and use DVD time as a treat.

No video games exist in our home. Ethan’s in fifth grade and of course catches a lot of slack for not gaming. One night we talked it over at bedtime. “Mom, my friends say they feel sorry for me, but I feel sorry for them. They don’t read, or play the piano, or know martial arts. They just know how to play video games.”

I don’t include that to pat myself on the back.

I share it to give you courage: It’s okay to raise children who live differently than their peers.

This School Year's Game Plan for Screen Time

After all, the norm of kids who are addicted to screens is not helping our culture one bit. Here are some other ideas to consider for your plan:

The Priority List: Author Dannah Gresh realized when her kids transitioned to middle school, she would lose a lot of control over what they were watching. They needed to be able to self-moderate. She had her kids write down a list of their priorities. They wrote their list which included family, time with God, homework, soccer, piano, video games, and time with friends. They had them put them in order of importance which made them realize why they didn’t get to play video games until homework was done or chores were complete.

Dannah says, “Teaching consequential thinking skills was important so they could carry those limits into high school, college and beyond. Otherwise you’re just setting rules.”

Nighttime Round Up: Author and mom mentor Hannah Keeley collects all phones, tablets, and laptops at night around 10 pm – even with three college kids living at home. If any of her college kids need to work later on homework, they can ask her for that extra time. “We know what they are doing online because we keep the computers out where we can see them. Every night we have a time when we shut down and a place where all the electronics go.”

Track the Time: Our very own Kristen Welch observed that so many parents are unaware of how much their children are consuming on screens. She began by watching her children closely and then setting a time limit: thirty minutes on weekdays – kids pick the screen. They use a screen time chart to keep track. Sometimes they bend the rules to watch family movies, but generally during the week the house rule is 30 minutes a day. In the summers with more free time, the kids can earn screen time by reading.

Use a Timer: CWIVES founder Jennifer Degler employs a screen time manager – a handy BOB timer – to avoid screen time battles. She programs 30 minutes on each device and after that, the device just shuts off. If her children need more time on the computer, she can program that. Her teenage son said, “I just hate that TV timer; you are so controlling. You know I hope those are still around when I’m a parent because I’m going to use them on my kids.”

What are some screen smart guidelines you want to implement this year in your home?

Leave a comment with your answer and you’ll be entered to win Arlene’s brand new book: 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom.

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Bio: Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman). She has been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah.

Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children.

To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit www.ArlenePellicane.com

Yes: One Year Later {Huge Giveaway}

Updated with Winners: Congrats to random commenters Leslie, Becky, Chelsea, Kendra and Lindsey

A few weeks after turning in my Rhinestone Jesus manuscript, my memoir about obedience to God, I visited refugees in Houston, relocated by the United Nations an hour from my home.

I was deeply moved not just by their poverty, but by their courage.

But I argued with God the whole way home.

What can I do to help them? I’m so busy. I’m already living out my yes.

But I’d been down that road before and I ended up with the question I couldn’t answer: How can I not help them?

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And so God used my own book about obedience to help me say yes again. 

That was over a year ago and that yes led to another and Fair Trade Friday was born and more than 1300 women are currently linking arms with Mercy House every month to empower and employ women all around the world like this Ethiopian artisan group we visited last week (they loved their Dayspring bags!)

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That yes led to my husband quitting his secure, well-paying job to lead the growing organization we started in 2010. It has led to helping more pregnant girls in Kenya.

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His yes led me to my next… a parenting book about gratitude and entitlement-possibly my most challenging yes to date. Because kids are hard.

A few weeks ago, I turned in my parenting manuscript and our family turned in an application to Catholic Charities to begin the process to foster an unaccompanied minor from a refugee camp–just typing those words–makes my heart pound.

But its been the small, daily yeses that have drawn me closer to God.

Yes, you can have more ice cream. Yes, I will forgive you for lying about cleaning up  your room. Yes, I will play Legos with you.

I keep thinking I’m done answering yes. But He keeps asking and pushing me deeper.

I’m not very good at faking brave. Every yes has scared me to death. Every yes has stretched me further than I thought possible. Every yes has drawn me to the feet of Jesus.

Every yes is without regret.

One year ago today, my book was released to the world. A few of you have sent words and stories about your yes to God. And it’s encouraged me to keep saying it. So, obviously, I completely blame you.

Here are 9 reasons other moms think you need to read Rhinestone Jesus today:

  • It will make you feel better about your messy marriage, motherhood and mission
  • It will challenge you to find that place where your passion and skills collide
  • It will inspire you to parent with intention and lead your family to find their greatest purpose
  • It might lead you to have a good cry (we all need that occasionally, right?)
  • Hopefully, it will cause at least one hearty belly laugh (and I’m not just referring to the scary picture of me with a home perm holding a doll)
  • It will stir up gratitude for what you have instead of disappointment for what you don’t
  • It will make you want to say yes to God today, right where you are
  • It will help you evaluate what matters most
  • It will support this ministry

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To celebrate, brave words and small yeses, big hopes and quiet dreams, I’m giving away FIVE prize packages: a signed copy of Rhinestone Jesus, Dayspring’s bestselling letterpress letters that spell the world “yes”, Dayspring’s gorgeous Micah 6:8 poster, a paper bead necklace created by the maternity home residents in Kenya, a bracelet from a Mercy House community outreach and Dayspring’s “Change the World” tablet decal.

To enter, tell me about your yes. (Remember, there are no big or small in Kingdom living. Every yes counts).

You never know who it will inspire.

The One Thing We All Have In Common {Giveaway}

Congrats to the random comment #25 Misty and #151 Nicki!

I’ve met women from all around the world.

Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been amazed at the differences-from the foods we eat, to the way we live.

Some walk with jugs of water on their heads, while others scoop it from a river or catch it in rain containers on their roofs.

Some cook at stoves with propane tanks sitting at their feet, while others lean over a jako and stir their pots over charcoal.

Some go to the bathroom in pit latrine, while others use a concrete hole in the ground or a bidet.

Some wear scarves covering their heads, while others wear bright traditional fabric or second hand clothes from the market.

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There are more differences than I can count.

And yet, we share important things in common: We have hopes and dreams and we would do anything for our children.

harmony bracelet-1This universal language of motherhood is breathtaking. It’s the dance of sacrifice and bravery and it’s the same in every language.

I met an Ethiopian woman a few days ago who had given birth the week before in her tiny hut. Her little 8 year old was in the sponsorship program we visited and told us her mother was very sick. When we visited her home balanced precariously on the side of a steep ledge, she was feverish and desperately sick with mastitis in her infected and swollen breasts.

And yet, in her suffering, she continued to feed her newborn baby, even when she wasn’t able to feed herself.

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Because that’s what mothers do.

We sacrifice.

We put our kids before ourselves.

We give them more than we had.

We risk our lives if it means giving our children the chance to live.

Love in any language is the same.

And that’s the one thing we all have in common.

state leather cuff webToday, The Vintage Pearl, a long time friend and supporter of Mercy House, is helping me celebrate this beautiful thing called motherhood. Join me in remembering our sisters around the globe and this precious thing we have in common.

The Vintage Pearl is giving away two $50 gift certificates. Please leave a comment mentioning a mother in your life that has inspired you.

Use code “WATF15″ for 15% off through 4/24. Today is the last day to order to receive by Mother’s Day.

Some Days My Marriage Isn’t Awesome

There it is again in my Facebook feed. This time it’s a selfie with her husband and her status reads, “The best date ever! My marriage is awesome. #always”

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Sure, it’s sweet. And I love a good marriage shoutout. But every time I see the “perfectly happy marriage” update, I want to say, please tell me you argue over who is letting the dog out at 2am or confess that sometimes just the way he breathes is hashtag annoying.

We probably all have friends who seem to have the most awesome marriage all the time. Every day is flowers and romance with him remembering every little thing and her sweetly ignoring every little thing he forgets. There is never arguing or irritating. It’s hashtag awesome.

First of all, I’m not so sure this kind of marriages exist.

I have been married 20 years. I have a great marriage. I have the t-shirt to prove it.

But some days my marriage is not awesome.

We don’t always communicate well, live selflessly enough, or remember to just be nice to each other .

We don’t always agree over financial issues, have sex enough, see eye-to-eye on parenting stuff.

Just the other day, there was a kitchen standoff because he heard the trash can lid close and asked me if I put the empty container in the can while he was getting a liner. I had the empty container in my hand and I held it up like a boss. Proof. Ha! He walked over to the trashcan and opened it. He leaned over and retrieved the empty bottle of Ranch Dressing I had just dropped in there. He was disgusted. And strangely enough, I had no recollection of putting it in there. This is a Thing in our house.

We’ve argued over less important things, if you can believe it.

Yeah. So maybe my marriage isn’t awesome everyday.

But that’s okay.

Because perhaps our greatest strength is that we know this and we still try anyway.

Marriage isn’t awesome because it’s perfect. It’s awesome because we keep at it.

It works because we don’t give up. We push through the long, hard days. We forgive selfishness and try to be less selfish. We ignore little annoyances and try to be less annoying.

All marriages have bad days. But every morning is a new chance for an awesome day. And when we have them we should share the happy moments instead of dwelling on the not-so-good ones.

So, the next time we are scrolling down our feeds and we see that friend’s happy marriage status, let’s go ahead and like it. Because maybe that’s what she’s doing.

These Are a Few Of My Favorite Things {Giveaway}

Today is going to be fun.

Most of the gifts I’m giving for Christmas this year are things I love and use myself that are faith-based, fair trade or support a cause I believe in.

So, I thought it would be fun to give away a few of my favorite things. (over $300 value)

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One lucky reader will win everything pictured (color and style may vary from picture):

Please visit each of these links and enter below!

1. Hand knit scarf from The Refugee Project– this is the local ministry I’m involved in

2. Burlap iPad case made by women in Ethiopia

3. Fair Trade Friday Gift Box– Every box comes with 3-4 amazing items made by women all over the world.

4. An apron that changes the world– made by girls who have aged out of a Rwandan orphanage.

5. My favorite handmade soap made by families in Zambia (their lip balm is amazing too)

6. An autographed Book to Inspire-this book supports the work of Mercy House.

7. Words Matter Letterpress Blocks I’m giving meaningful words away this Christmas.

8. Shine Necklace -I love this inspiring Dayspring line.

9. Laline Milk Body Scrub-My Russian friends who are making disciples in Israel gave this to me and I love it. It’s made from salt from the Dead Sea.

10. My favorite everyday gold hoop earrings empowering survivors of modern day slavery

11. A squirrel pendant carved from a nut made by artisans in Ecuador

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Happy Blog Birthday to Us {Giveaway & an Opportunity to Change the World}

This month, We are THAT family is celebrating seven years of blogging.

7 years.

I’ve written more than 2500 blog posts, read more than 150,000 comments and deleted more than 1,000,000 spam.

I’ve embarrassed myself.

I’ve been wrecked. 

I’ve been inspired as you’ve helped make this a reality in the last few years.

We’ve been through a lot together. Some days, I feel like I’ve said it all. And others, I feel like I’m just getting started.

Blogging has changed my life. And it has given me the opportunity to change the lives of others.

This online journey reminds me that I’m not alone.

And it inspires me to remind others they are not forgotten.

Here’s to 7 more years!

For past blog birthday celebrations, I’ve given you gifts (thanks to generous sponsors of this blog). Today, I’m giving you the opportunity to be the gift.

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I’ve told you about our super fun (and wildly successful) Fair Trade Friday Club. Its had a waiting list since the day we launched and now has hundreds of members empowering hundreds and hundreds of women in more than a dozen countries! Today, to celebrate, I’m giving you the chance to join me in changing the world for some of the poorest women across the globe…like these beautiful Ethiopian women who are Fair Trade Friday partners who wanted to say thank you:

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We have a very exclusive number of High-End Fair Trade Friday boxes available for purchase. High-End boxes are different than our monthly boxes because they contain 4 higher priced items (think the best Christmas gifts ever!)

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Each box is valued at $137 each. We are selling them for just $84 dollars (priority shipping included). Not only can you knock out some of your Christmas list, the first 68 people who purchase one today, get this cute burlap clutch made by women in Ethiopia (additional $24 value ).

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So, that’s $161 of life-changing cuteness (which means you’re getting 5 items for around $15 each!!) well below retail.

Get yours and celebrate this amazing opportunity to make a difference in the world (and look cute while doing it!) I know that’s a lot of money and Christmas is still two months away, so I’m also giving away TWO of these fabulous boxes today. Enter below. 

Join the FTF wait list today and spread the word about Fair Trade Friday. It’s a beautiful way to change the world.

Happy blog birthday to us!

 

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WFMW: The Two Words That Changed My Life {Giveaway}

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Today, we are taking a break from our Yes Works For Me stories, so I can share with you two words that have changed my life and give away a beautiful word to one of you. Make sure you leave a comment as your entry!

[Updated with Winner: Congrats to Hannah, random commenter #311]

We had just finished speaking, Maureen and I, tag-teaming, sharing the Mercy House story over and over the past few weeks. We not only wanted to bring awareness to the countless impoverished women in the world, we also wanted to inspire people hearing our words to join the story.

The lady waited her turn and pulled me aside afterwards, “What really changed your life? What woke you up? What was it?”

It’s a hard question. But the answer came easily.

Two words, I whisper.

I love words.  I love reading them. I love writing them.

But mostly, I love living them.

They are powerful. They speak death or give life.

Words guide us.

For nearly 5 years, two words have led my feet on a hard, beautiful journey. I’ve gone deeper than I ever wanted, stretched further than I thought possible and been more fulfilled than I ever dreamed.

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Love. Mercy.

I love these two words… I understand love. I long for mercy. I can give both to others.

These two words have changed my life.

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And the lives of others.

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Don’t think for a moment that your words aren’t important.

Your words matters.

What you say with your lips, write on a screen, scribble in a book, jot in a thank you note, they are powerful.

When we start with The Word. Our words can change the world.

———————————————

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Dayspring’s new (in)Courage Words Matter Letterpress Blocks are stunning. They chose the two words for me that are now hanging over my bed for me. I cried when I opened the mail.

Today, they are giving away $50 to one of you because your words matter. 

Click below to look at the awesome variety of letters:

Leave a comment with “your word” as your entry.

Blog Elevated Conference Ticket Giveaway

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Congrats to random commenter #12, Geralyn!

I’m excited to be speaking at the Blog Elevated Conference in Galveston, Texas in a couple of weeks! Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or a brand new one, the Blog Elevated Conference has something for everyone. There are sessions on:

In my keynote, I will be sharing how to “Use Your Blog to Change the World.” I’m honored to share my blogging story and where it has taken me and I pray it inspires others to blog for good.

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Check out the other speakers here and registration details here.

And the event will be at the lovely Moody Gardens Hotel.

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GET YOUR TICKET TODAY!

Today, I’m happy to be giving away a full conference pass to one lucky reader! It’s a $249 value and includes:

  • Welcoming reception on Thursday, Sept. 25
  • All sessions and breakouts on Friday, Sept. 26
  • Friday night party
  • All sessions and breakouts on Saturday, Sept. 27
  • 18 sessions in all, with a blogging track, social media track, and visual/design track!

Leave a comment for your entry. This giveaway will end in 24 hours.