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Darling Daughters


7 ways to help families UNPLUG
16 Mar 2015



Turn off that Goggle Box


Welcome to the lighter days of Spring. After months of dark and cold with families cooped up inside, it’s time to get out.  But in a world where everyone's lives are dominated by screens, how do we switch off and do something else that doesn’t involve technology?

I was interested to see in the news today yet another survey about the affects of screen time on children. Published by UCL, it reports that children who watch more than 3 hours a day of television (or any other screen) are storing up health problems for the future. Great. Hit the parental guilt button again.

In my youth, the only screen we had was a second hand TV that received 3 channels on a good day with the wind blowing in the right direction. Our family enjoyed 1970s comedies and dramas from Z Cars to The Generation Game or Steptoe and Son. However, Star Trek and Top of the Pops did not meet with Marmar’s approval.  Her approach to regulating screen time was clear and simple.  When we clamoured to be allowed to watch ‘1 more programme’ we were told ‘ No, turn off that Goggle Box.’  And we did.

Today, it seems so much more complicated to regulate screen time. Parents I coach frequently bring this up as one of the most frustrating problems they are battling with.  The TV might go off, but hands of all sizes are then on to a Smart phone, Tablet or computer. Some parents report that sons are much harder to deal with than their daughters over screen usage – what is your experience of this? Do let me know.

In the meantime, here are my favourite tips for helping families unplug – not just the kids.

  1. Create age appropriate rules you can stick to on school days, weekends and holidays. Be clear about the difference between entertainment and information usage. Ask your kids what limits they suggest. Review them regularly.
  2. Unplugged - Now what? Expect some grumpiness, but causing upsets for our children is part of parenting. Have a conversation instead about the weather, the news, the price of milk, the cat, art, music, cars, neighbours, family – anything. Ask children questions. Listen to their answers or opinions.
  3. Exercise – walk, run, scoot, cycle, play sport, ball games, dance
  4. Games – cards, board games, word games, memory games
  5. Create and play – toys/art materials/dressing up, make music, reading
  6. Household jobs -divide them up. Keep a note of any jobs you're willing to pay for. Make a meal together or bake a cake.
  7. Comment on how much your enjoy spending time with your children doing any of the above.  

Your darlings will notice what happens when you unplug too. Show your enthusiasm for what you do that isn’t on a screen, especially if it gets you out into the Spring sunshine. What might that be? It would be great if you could share your tips for unplugging your family in the comments box. Thank you.





Marmar was my mum.  Her legacy to my sisters and I includes parenting wisdom, wit and a bottomless pit of patience.  She had her flaws though, as all parents do. I didn't realise how much she meant to me, and to my daughters, until she died. 

So many parents have told me they miss their own family being nearby to help bring up their darlings. I thought you might like some parenting tips from Marmar. A small act of kindness written with love like Marmar would, to help you with all the modern problems of raising daughters.  She would prefer me to write a proper letter to you, but she had a habit of leaving notes for us written on the back of old envelopes on the kitchen table.  I hope you find these jottings useful and fun. Marmar would want you to put your feet up to read them.
This is also an invitation to share your own  'Marmar' stories. A friend told me her mum always said " It will be alright in the morning." What did your mum, or dad, do or say, that you have found valuable in raising your darlings? Please do share your memories for all of us in the comments box, or on the Darling Daughters Facebook page.