School nights are extremely challenging for most families. After a hard day at work, parents have a long list of tasks ahead of them:
reconnecting with their children
preparing a healthy dinner
having dinner as a family
helping children with their homework
reading with their children
guiding children through bath time to bedtime
getting their children to bed at a reasonable hour
And that's before, parents even begin to attend to their own needs!
In the digital age, the "second shift" has become even more complicated. Digital distraction lengthens each step in the evening routine, as both parents and children stop what they are doing to react to texts, emails, Instagram, and a host of other screen-based communication. For many families, the family dinner has devolved into a functional exercise, rather than a cherished daily ritual. An over-reliance on screens impedes face-to-face connection and communication, whether it is between a parent and child or between the parents themselves. And as parents and children are pulled into different directions, homework, especially, can take longer than it needs to.
Because digital distraction makes each evening task take longer than it should, children tend to go to bed later than is good for them. And once they're in bed, many of them struggle to fall asleep. If they've been interacting with screens up until just before bedtime, the blue light from their devices has suppressed the hormone melatonin which tells our brains and bodies to wind down and sleep. Consequently, children get less sleep and suffer for it the next day at school. The results range from difficulty concentrating in class to impulse control issues to irritability.
We live in the digital age and enjoy all of its benefits. It's time to recognize that the digital age also comes with some pitfalls. By acknowledging them, we can learn to avoid them. Prime Time Parenting is a two-hour routine for school nights that helps parents create a warm, bustling family life that meets their children's needs---and leaves parents the time to take care of themselves, too.
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