As parents we have a big responsibility to guide and equip our children to to have a balanced childhood and to spend their time wisely. If left up to their own choices, they may choose to have doughnuts for dinner every night and spend all their time on low effort high reward activities like gaming and computer entertainment. I designed this chart to give moms a clear visual of pouring time (milk) into different activities in your child’s day (vases). Your mission is to help him use his time wisely by choosing a balance of appropriate activities. Every drop that goes into one vase can’t go into another. It is a done deal. If your child spends 3 hours gaming, those hours can never be used again for reading or art or nature. It is a simple but profound concept and as we teach them to use their time on foundational character building skills, they will reap the benefits their whole life.
Here is what we know:
- Multi-tasking is a brain science myth; your child (and you) can only do one activity at a time, i.e. he can’t game and do his homework! I promise!
- The activities that your child learns and practices during childhood will strengthen specific neuronal pathways and set the foundation for how his brain is wired.
- Learning a hard new skill takes repetition, patience and time to develop.
- Neuronal pathways (building skills) that are not used during childhood will be pruned away and much more difficult to activate (learn) later in life.
- Moms have the most influence over how their children spend their time and their talents.
- Time is a limited resource for children and adults alike.
How much time will your child put into each activity in his day? It is up to you, Mom, to help him structure a good balanced plan. Until his frontal cortex is developed he will need encouragement to try many different activities. Video games and screens will be hard for him to resist and if he had full control of the “milk” he may just pour it all into that vase.
Don’t get paralyzed by the overwhelming task of limiting your child’s screen entertainment activities. Start with a small plan if you are having trouble. Some families find success by making gaming and computer entertainment time off limits during the school week. My decision was to go game free all together because I was having problems managing the ‘milk’ decisions for four children! Now their weekdays and weekends are filled with many non-screen activities and our life just feels richer, more meaningful and less stressful. While I give them certain choices around which vases they fill, I am ultimately responsible for where their milk goes. This visual has really helped me evaluate my parenting goals and I hope it helps you too!