5 on a Friday: PreTween/Tween Edition

May 12, 2023

1- MY TURN. Josh was on full-on kid duty last weekend while I was in CA, and now it’s my turn (though hopefully I can still get in my early long run tomorrow – looking forward to that). We are still screen free for the month so ummmm . . . I am unlikely to get a nap. But I’m still looking forward to it. Hoping Annabel will let me help her organize her room — we will see!

2- Screen-Free Update– speaking of screen free — I feel like I need to provide an update. So far it has been fine! The kids are definitely making more messes but otherwise nothing is that different. Whether behavior has been impacted is hard to say, but I have watched G do more creative things and C has been (begrudgingly) reading more — he is super into these Olympians graphic novels. We have allowed occasional movies — I think they have watched 1-2 at home so far and I may let them watch something tonight.

Now to work on getting them to actually clean up those messes as they go . . . sigh.

I don’t plan on keeping them screen free forever, but once the month is over there are definitely going to be firmer boundaries in place than we previously had.

3- Since apparently this is the week I am tackling mid-sized kid topics (I can’t exactly call Cameron a tween yet!) — we are phone shopping for Annabel because we’ve decided it would be nice for her to have calling/texting capabilities. BUT we’re thinking something like this:

No AirDrop, no social media, basically just a calling/texting device to be able to let us know if she needs a ride, or for her to have if we leave her alone for a short stint.

The middle school is very strict about not letting the kids have their phones out, though I am interested in the detailed version of their policies. (And they do all have ChromeBooks so . . . I am sure they are online in other ways . . .)

4- I LOVE THIS BOOK. I’m almost done and I can tell it will be a 2023 favorite.

SO GOOD and a quick read. The main character Maddie is just so truly genuine and likable. I wish I knew her IRL.

5- I was on the Mom & . . . podcast last week! Susanne and Missy explore the different identities of women who are also moms, and I was honored to be included! Here’s the podcast link + the YouTube.

and they made a cute graphic, too!


  • Reply Grateful Kae May 12, 2023 at 1:24 pm

    At my kids’ (private) middle school, there is a big shoe-pouch type thing hanging in a closet in each of the homerooms (so a bunch of individual pouches, but all together). When the kids arrive in the morning, they all have to go put their phones in the pouch, where it then stays for the rest of the day. They don’t get them at lunch/recess either. The kids then retrieve their phones at the end of the day. I LOVE that they do this. It means I have no contact with them during the day (totally fine- I mean, can always call the school) and this way there is no “cheating” or teachers having to monitor if the kids are keeping their phones put away. I know that our local public middle school allows the kids to keep their phones on their person, though.

    Our school actually also disabled the email option on their Chromebooks so the kids can’t send or receive emails from anyone not on the school network anymore, too. I actually did like being able to shoot the boys a quick question/ email now and then and get a response during the day, but oh well. 🙂

  • Reply Heather May 12, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    Have you considered a Gizmo watch or similar? That’s what our 10 yo has.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 12, 2023 at 3:38 pm

      Yep 🙂 My husband was anti-watch bc of cost and type of data plan but we definitley considered!

  • Reply Sarah May 12, 2023 at 8:17 pm

    Maame was fantastic! I felt the same way about Maddie; so rare for a character to be that well written and likeable.

  • Reply Lara L Savic May 12, 2023 at 11:24 pm

    Definitely second the watch idea where you only program in mom and dad’s number and that’s it. They only can call or text you. No other features.

  • Reply Marthe May 13, 2023 at 2:31 am

    3 for the watch, although we (in The Netherlands, suburb) use them for younger kids to play on the streets unsupervised. That’s safe here. But for our 8 and 9 yo they are so so convenient and indeed only usable to phone home in need and for us to see where they are on the accompanying app, and send them hints to return home at a certain time. We love them! And here they are far cheaper than a phone.

    However, when they go to the next school (we don’t have middle school, so that would be high school?) from age 11-12 it’s pretty normal for kids to have a smartphone with shoe-pouch storage, but I plan to try to spin them the Nokia option first 🤣

  • Reply sara taylor May 13, 2023 at 7:06 am

    We tried the Gizmo watches for my boys (11 and 10), but we always had issues with the watches not charging… so they go out of the habit of wearing them. Now they sit on the kitchen counter. But as summer approaches, I would like to find a better solution. A smart phone is a non-starter, but I’m thinking about an Apple Watch (with cellular and the family plan) or a dumb phone (like the Nokia).

  • Reply Kate May 23, 2023 at 12:06 am

    My 10year old catches the bus to and from school and I wanted him to have a phone for this. After much consideration and then being unable to find a good solution he got one of our old iphones. I set it up via the iphone native parental controls, deleted off the internet, no social apps etc. If he wants to download an app it sends a parental permission request (which he has discovered I always decline). So he can basically call or message. But he is able to also have the apps for the library and Audible because he likes to listen to a book on the bus after his friends get off (he’s got a longish trip). The whole phone thing was not actually as bigger deal as I had imagined.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.