Surviving Summer Vacation With and Without Technology

Balancing screen time and sunshine Todays world is full of parents who work from home. For the past nine years, I've been one of them.

When summer vacation arrives, it comes with new challenges. Our home offices are no longer the sacred, quiet spaces that we love and thrive in.

While some build a writing shed or a tiny house to escape the squeals of the summertime kids (and it is something I dream of doing), it isn't a viable option for most.

Thankfully I don't have to worry about the technology side of the equation.

Having Verizon FiOS insures that even when my son is playing Destiny on our Xbox or League of Legends on the computer, while my daughter is binge watching her latest show via Netflix on her iPad or scrolling through iFunny on her phone and I'm conducting a webinar that none of us misses a beat. I always giggle a bit when I see commercials talking about internet speeds slowing down at home depending on the usage. It just isn't something I've ever experienced in a long time.

That being said, I also want to make sure that my kids don't spend their entire summer vacation in front of screens.

The easiest way to fix this is to turn off your router every so often. Be warned that this is not the best idea in the world and you are sure to have some grumpy kids if they ever find out you did it, but it does work.

A better idea is to get away from the screens yourself and get outside. Getting your yard work done early so you can put a kayak in the water or go for a hike is always a great idea.

We also require the kids to spend a minimum of thirty minutes every day reading.

With the invention of summer reading lists (I never had one as a kid) it makes this easier. Especially this summer when my daughter has to read Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies for her AP History class. Setting up a hammock in the backyard makes this not so much of an "c'mon dad!" chore.

My kids are teenagers, so their phones are permanent accessory that go with everything. Getting them to put it away is a losing battle and I have a feeling it is a battle many parents may be fighting.

Here are a few apps that I'd suggest installing so that their phone can be used for more than chatting with their friends.

Sky Map (Android) or Star Walk (iOS) are both great for checking out the night sky and perhaps sparking a love of astronomy.

Last year on our roadtrip, we used Roadtrippers (sadly only iOS) a ton to get the kids involved with finding fun stops along the way. This is a great way to keep them from complaining on the next long car ride. :)

Finally, if you want them to start using their phone camera for more than only taking selfies, encourage them to install one of the many camera apps that are available. I personally recommend Camera Zoom FX on Android or Camera+ on iOS. Either will give them full control over their camera and can start their love of photography. I'm also a huge can of VSCO Cam for post production of photos to make them different than most.

At the end of the day, technology is a beautiful thing. Being surrounded by it empowers me to do the work I do, but at the same time I don't want my kids to be slaves to it this summer.

Something new we are trying this year is we had the family make a "Summer Beach Bucket List" that is hanging in our kitchen.

A photo posted by C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman) on

Everyone is encouraged to write down things they wanted to do this summer. As you can see, it includes everything from activities we want to do, to several restaurants we keep forgetting to try.

You'd be amazed at how open the kids have been anytime we announce, "ok lets check one of these off!" and head out to do it.

It would be so easy to just let our kids enjoy their screens all summer because it means you'd be able to get your work done without distractions. But, we all know that isn't the best use of our parenting skills and we need to make sure they get away from them.

Plus, don't forget that away from screen time is good for you as well.

How do you balance screen time with sunshine during summer vacation?

Disclosure - I am a member of the #LifeOnFiOSVZWBuzz  influencer teams from Verizon. From time to time they provide me with services, gadgets, information and experiences in exchange for articles focused on my digital life style. I control the topics, words, thoughts and everything else. They just get to read and share them. :)