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Maria Vega reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

My wife and I were looking for a friendly, family oriented MMA classes for our son (10) and daughter (12). They love martial arts and have been doing it for years, in an after school program (TKD). Well, after looking around, we joined Gracie PAC MMA. Let me tell you, this place is perfect. Their staff and coaches are incredible; friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and experience on everything MMA. Professor Cris Rodriguez is great with kids, amazing teacher. We are extremely happy with Gracie MMA, their staff is great, they are very organize and their curriculum (bjj, muay thai, kick boxing, etc....) has everything we were looking for. Great place for the entire family.

Tiffany Teal Montague Simmons reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

Come train with the BEST! This is NOT your normal after school karate class. We were amazed at the amount of technique even the youngest students pick up after just a few classes. Coach Cris is awesome with the kids. She expects more then just good fighting from them. She stays involved with how they are doing in school and at home, giving her students the incentive to be the best at everything they do.

Dana Fields reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

I have been looking for a great exercise program to get involved in and finally found it here. I have learned so much in the two months I have been here and can't wait to continue to get stronger. Love This place!! Coach Cris is the best at making me not want to give up.

DorothyandMark Winter reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

PAC MMA is fitness for the whole family. Kids programs, adult classes and even the best woman's fitness and self defense around, this is the place to go. Make your family a part of the PAC family.

Amanda Fletcher Moyer reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

Best place ever! My daughter attends the after school program there and she loves it. I just started taking the kickboxing class & it's the best class I have ever taken. Everyone there is awesome.

Gina Lopez Fernandez reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

I can't say enough about how much I love this place! My son is learning so much and he LOVES going to class. There's something so rewarding in watching your child learn and grow so quickly :) Coach Chris, Coach Dan and Coach Rich have all been amazing! I couldn't ask for a better environment for my son. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and so much of yourself - we truly appreciate it!

Erica Ramirez reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

Heard thru word of mouth. Then checked it out and noticed great character in their students and the attentive staff. The coach had noticeable rapport with the kids in the class. My daughter loved it. She can't wait to get back. She even cleaned her room! Huge plus.

Dan Martinez reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

Gracie PAC MMA has been one of, if not the best, mixed martial arts gym I have been a part of. The kids program/instruction is second to none, and offers world class BJJ instruction for adults as well as one of the most promising striking programs in the US, Bang Muay Thai. Countless kids and adults have competed at the highest level under the GPAC banner, with even more discovering what martial arts can do for them. Whether you want to compete or get in great shape, this facility has the program for you

Nicole Dunn reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

Our family has been coming to Gracie PAC Tampa for nearly two years. We began sending our son first. Our main goals were for him to experience the physical and mental benefits derived from regular physical exercise. Instantly we realized how special this place is, and how amazing Coach Cris is with the kids, as well as adults. She is fair but firm, and as she commands respect, she encourages these kids to rise to their full potential, also providing valuable discussions on character, sportsmanship, and leadership, as part of her curriculum.

My husband takes some of the adult jiu jitsu and kickboxing classes, from which he has benefitted greatly, and I truly enjoy being a member of the ladies' bootcamp group. These ladies represent a wide range of fitness levels and ages. Each class, we all get together to kick butt, do our best, and encourage each other in a true team environment. I never leave this class disappointed.
Gracie PAC Tampa MMA - best place EVER for your anyone in your family to train at.

Lynzie Johnston reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

Well it's about time I write a review! My boys joined Gracie PAC as little Ninjas about 4 months ago. They absolutely love it! Professor Cris is an amazing teacher! She's very enthusiastic about teaching and she is very patient. My boys love going to class. They are 4 &7 . They never want to miss a class. They have learned so much and continue to learn with each class. They love earning strips on their belt. This is a really great positive atmosphere for kids and families. I'm very satisfied with our experience.

Jesse James Maldonado reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

I took Jiu Jitsu a few years back at another facility and decided to give this one a try. I took my first lesson last night and could not believe the content. Very structured and professional. Easy to learn and everyone was eager to assist me being the new guy. Other places teach you a couple of moves. Each involving many steps and you still won't understand it. Garcia PAC teaches you a technique and teaches you other techniques that involve some of the same steps. It made me confident that if I try something and am not able to secure the submission, then I can roll into another technique just as easy and It gives you options and makes you think. I liked that approach rather than what I was given in the past. A+ school and is 100% legit. I am confident this time around I will take it all the way with my training. When you find a place like this you take advantage of the opportunity to train there.

Meghann Thacker reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

We love it at Gracie PAC! They focus on fitness, strength, form, and most importantly they work hard every lesson to help teach my children how to effectively defend themselves against bullies and other attacks. It's easy to see this group of educators clearly loves kids and have a passion for sharing their vast knowledge with their students! Best MMA in the Bay for kids!

Chandra Ahrendt reviewed Gracie PAC MMA —
via Facebook

I took my first class tonight. As soon as you enter, you are greeted by smiling faces who are just as excited to have you there as you are to be there. The coaches there were phenomenal. They were so incredibly encouraging and patient, it was a breeze picking it up because there was no pressure. Great job at creating such an inviting atmosphere.

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I hear from parents all the time about their struggles with screen time for kids. They want to reduce or limit screen time, but it’s hard! Here are just a few of the emails I’ve gotten:

My son wants to stay on Minecraft all day. Sitting on his butt. No exercising. He fights me to get off a screen unless it’s to watch a family movie. Which is another screen.

Setting time limits is very hard for me because I have a hard time following through and reminding them it’s time to turn off their device.

How easy it is to just say “how about we watch a movie!”

You are busy exhausted parents and it IS easy to turn on the screens to give yourself a break. And you need and deserve a break. That is 100% true.

What if you can get a break without turning on the screens? Would you do it?

Or course you would—if it was easy. Alas, as with most things in life, getting kids away from the glow screen is not always easy, especially when your child is whining and asking,

Just 15 more, minutes. PLEASE, MOM! I’ll do my homework later.

And truthfully, you want 15 more minutes to yourself.

But it is easier than you think.


What if it took a little bit of work to get to that point? Just a little. Not too much work. Just patience and persistence. Can you do it?

You can. You can get your kids off screens (or lower their screen time) AND not have to always be down on the floor playing Barbie or LEGO or Ninja Turtles, or whatever their current obsession is. Of course it is great to play with your kids when they are bored, but you don’t have to do it 100% of the time.

The problem is not that your kid is bored without screens. The problem is that your kid doesn’t know how to be bored without screens.

Let me take a moment to clarify—this is not a judgement on parents who aren’t interesting in giving up screens as a babysitter or in monitoring their children’s screen time. We all have different lives BUT there are many of us (myself included) who witness the following behavior in our kids when they have a lot of screen time:

  • Lack of imagination
  • Inability to overcome bored moments and entertain oneself
  • Whining
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Intense focus on when the next “screen time fix” will be
  • Increased aggression and/or anxiety
  • Lack of focus
  • Poor social skills

If your kids show some of the above traits, it may be that their brains are having a hard time because of an over reliance on screen time.

I’m not going to go into all the research about the affect of screen time on developing brains here (I’ll put some resources at the end of this post). If you’re reading this you already have concerns and what you are looking for is PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS.

Below I am going to give four practical solutions for reducing or eliminating screen time. Our family has tried each of these solutions so I know they work.


Read through each of the unplugged strategies below before deciding how you want to proceed. It is my firm belief that the best road to screen-free success is with idea number one, but whichever you choose, make a plan and stick with it. 

You probably want to start limiting screen time like yesterday, but I recommend taking a week to think and strategize. Your chances of success will be that much greater.

  • Choose a strategy
  • Write it down in as much detail as you can stand
  • Tell the entire family what the plan is; not everyone will be happy, so…..
  • Tell the entire family why you are excited
  • Gather ideas for family time away from screens (ask your kids for input)
  • Keep your own screens (phones, iPads, computers) off and put away while you teach your kids how to unplug (Hard, I know. But essential.)
  • Stay positive…. and
  • Stay consistent

I can not stress enough how important it is to STAY CONSISTENT. As a parent you already know how important consistency is for parenting. No matter what solution you choose, I can tell you that any time I have backtracked and been just a teeny-tiny bit lenient, it has come back to bite me in the butt. You’ve spent a lot of energy planning a strategy, don’t let it all go to waste.

Remember: Patience and Persistence is all you need. You are a parent, you have those in spades!

You can do it!


Screen Free Idea Number One: 

GO COLD TURKEY. Okay this sounds super hard. But it is what we did. I was so fed up with what I saw as a total lack of pretend play and imagination on the part of my youngest child, as well as the intense melt-downs and whining marathons when I wanted to turn the screen off, I decided the only solution was to cut him off totally. And completely.

I’m not going to lie. It was brutal. He complained about being bored.

But it was only hard for about a week.

After a week he figured out on his own that his boredom was not about the lack of screens.

I could say to him until I was blue in the face that he didn’t need screens when he was bored. But until he experienced it for himself there was no way he was going to believe me.

After a week he stopped asking for the phone or computer. He started to play, he started to read more. He went outside. All the good stuff of childhood. All. The. Good. Stuff.

Be aware, you the parent or caregiver, must be willing to set aside your beloved device as well.

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you know that we are now not totally screen free. But we kept it up for at least a year, and slowly reintroduced screen time in very limited amounts. I suggest you plan on being totally screen free when the kids are awake and home for at least 3 months. You can then assess if it it makes sense to try to bring screens back into your child’s life a little at a time. The older your child is, the more screens become important.

Note to parents: go ahead and check Facebook, answer emails, catch up on your favorite shows when your kids are at school, or sleeping. But turn the devices off while kids are awake and at home.

Screen Free Idea Number Two: 

EXTREME LIMITS. After a few months of total cold turkey, we allowed some screen time back in our children’s lives. But we limited it to 30 minutes on the weekend, and at their grandparents’ house. Set whatever time limit you feel comfortable with, but remember the terms of this limit are crucial to its success:

  1. Screen time is outside the home. This way I couldn’t become distracted by cooking dinner, or reading my book or some other task during which I would just like to have “a few more minutes of peace.” If you must have screen time in your own home, choose one specific place.
  2. Other people are available for encouragement. In our case it was the grandparents.
  3. Other distractions are readily available when it is time to turn the screen off. At the grandparents’ home there are games to be played, or stories to be told. Other ideas: try the library, outside an ice cream store on a bench in town, even a friend’s house. If you and another parent are both working on this, you could try making the screen time as part of a play date.

It is absolutely essential that you ignore all pleas for “one more minute!” After the first few times that you do not give in they will stop asking. If you give in, you will seriously hinder your success. 

TIP: set the timer on the device so that it interrupts their screen time with a loud ringing noise that no one can ignore!

TIP: Use this key strategy to end tech tantrums when it is time to turn the screens off.

Screen Free Idea Number Three: 

INSTITUTE PREREQUISITES. Require certain tasks to be done before screen time. Now that we have 15 minutes of reading on the iPad (no games, just comic books) in the evening I have instituted certain tasks that must be completed first. Any chores for the day must be done, all homework must be completed, a certain about of play time outside must have been fulfilled, and instruments must have been practiced. Increasing our screen time to allow for a daily read has worked for us because we have been at this for so long.

You will have to decide if you are also limiting the amount of time your child is allowed to spend on the device and make a plan as to how you will convince your child to turn it off.

If necessary, use a written checklist as a visual aid so your child has an easy tool to help him remember the tasks he needs to complete before screen time.

Screen Free Idea Number Four: 

LIMIT THE “WHY”. Why is your child using the screen? Is it to play a game? Watch an educational video? Practice math facts? (dare to dream) Look up the answer to a history question? Read an ebook?

I use this strategy primarily with my tween who has school-based reasons for using a device. If my child needs to use an electronic device outside of his designated time, he needs to explain to me his justification. He already knows I won’t say yes to games or videos, therefore it is usually so he can get an answer to a question or because he has to type up an assignment for school. I also require the device be used in the family room. He cannot shut himself away in his room with a screen.

If you choose this strategy, collaborate with your child on a list of reasons why she may need to use an electronic device. Help your child take ownership and responsibility of their screen time.



Things to have on hand so you don’t need to use the internet for research (as much):

  • A quality dictionary
  • A thesaurus
  • Book guides for your child’s current interests. Investing in a Pokemon handbook and a LEGO Star Wars Minifigure Encyclopedia has saved me many a “Mooooommm, I need to look something up!” moments.
  • Calculator
  • An atlas
  • Science encyclopedia
  • Math reference book
  • A library card

A few ideas for creative and fun unplugged, screen free time: 

Parental controls for screens:

Now that my older child needs to use the computer for school work I limit the sites he can go on. This is not because I don’t trust him, it is so I can be aware of what he is doing for school. He comes to me when he needs me to approve a site (which I almost always do) and that opens up the channel for communication. He sees that I value a responsible approach to using the internet. Every browser has a parental controls setting.

Extra Curricular Activities:

Keeping busy with healthy activities is a sure fire way to keep your kids’ mind off of devices. Martial Arts is the PERFECT way to help keep their mind and body in tip top shape. If you’re ready for your child to try the wonderful work of Martial Arts, grab our Quick Start Confidence Course here.