Electronics are definitely a mixed blessing in our house. My children come from a long line of geeks on both sides of the family and it’s no wonder that they enjoy their iPad time and secretly want their own Fitbits. Since we homeschool, we do utilize television and iPads for educational purposes, but I admit sometimes there is just plain too much screen time around here. That’s why I like to take a break from screens and “unplug” for a while and that’s what we did in April for one week.
I remember vividly having several TV-free summers as a child. My parents report that those breaks from electronics are when each of their four children grew into avid readers. To this day, we all love reading and writing, and I consider that one of the best gifts my parents gave us. So I was hopeful we would have positive results when we jumped into this challenge.
The biggest hurdle was breaking the news to my four year old. The girls were on board but my son, who has no concept of time, was indignant. However, once he understood our plan, I was amazed at how quickly he caught on.
At the end of the week, it was clear we had conclusive results that the whole family agreed about:
- There was a lot less whining all around. I hadn’t realized how much whining was tied directly to screen time.
- My son’s behavior was much, much better.
- Mommy did not do as well keeping up with the house, because I often do housework in the evening while watching Netflix on my phone. It’s just too hard to muster up the energy without some Nashville or New Girl.
- My work time also suffered. I wasn’t able to blog in the morning like I was used to.
- We spent more time outside. Luckily, it was great weather during our screen-free week.
- There was more free time reading all around (even for me).
- We all love audio books and now I (finally) know how to download them from the library.
- I don’t see us ever going screen-free permanently, but I do know for sure that we need more limits and alternatives.
I have to admit, the week was probably hardest on me and that surprised me. It is really hard to parent all day without down time. My son doesn’t nap anymore and he is very, very social. He has trouble entertaining himself and doesn’t want to be alone … ever. He also wakes up before 6 a.m. every day. So TV is one of my tools of survival, one that I am not ready to give up completely. However, it is time to mom-up and find solutions to the problem rather than giving up and giving in to the screen-monster!