Every once in a while, the girls get stuck in a TV watching rut. It happens when I get lazy. And they get lazy. And I don't take time to prepare activities for them to do. And when I do take time to prepare activities they would rather watch TV than do them. Especially when the weather is cold and we have to stay inside multiple days in a row. I honestly don't mind my kids watching some TV throughout the day. It's a good break for them, and for me. Most of what they watch is educational. Mercedes loves watching animal documentaries or baking tutorials on youtube. Both the girls learned their colors, shapes, counting and most of their letters from shows like Barney, Sesame Street, Word World and Super Why. But obviously an unlimited amount of screen time is harmful developmentally. This winter as soon as screen time got a bit out of control, I wrote out a daily routine so their TV time is broken up throughout the day. They get 30 minutes of screen time every 2 hours, which is 2 1/2 hours total. Since we are stuck at home (mostly inside since it's usually too cold to play outside for long these days!) 13 hours every day and neither of them take naps anymore, I think 2 1/2 hours of screen time split up throughout the day is acceptable. I know lots of parents disagree. This is just what works best for us since both of them tend to have meltdowns without plenty of "chill time".
The girls didn't respond well to the written routine, and I realized it was because since they can't read it really means nothing to them. I would read it for them and point to the words, but they really didn't accept it until I printed them out one that made sense to them. I used clip art pictures to represent each activity scheduled and they love to check it throughout the day and tell me what's next!
The girls were still having trouble with TV time only every 2 hours. For whatever reason, they need lots of breaks from organized activities. Time just for them, to chill out and unwind and relax. I made them a list of things to do (illustrated with clip art) so whenever they ask to watch TV but it's not time yet, I tell them to pick something to do off of their chill time list. This works like a charm. It's like a game and they love it!
To make the screen time boundaries even more clear, I made big red X's and put them over the TV, computer and phone. They stay there all the time except during screen time. The girls don't have to nag or whine about it or ask me a million times if it's screen time yet. They have a constant visual to remind them of the rules. This technique has worked great this winter!