The past couple of months have seen great changes in our household. We moved and everyone knows that’s a big deal – even if it is just 3 miles down the road. We had a couple of lovely long-term house guests – and even though that’s fun, it’s still a big deal. And, the number of screens in our house tripled by way of smartphones, laptops and tablets too. Needless to say I was more than a little bit distracted by life’s big changes and so screen usage was, well, let’s just say it increased significantly. And not just screen time mind you, but everyone on their own screen, small and big, with headphones on so in order to communicate you had to wave your hands wildly in front of their dazed eyes. WHAT THE?
While it worked for a little while and admittedly gave me what I needed personally in some regards, (leave-me-alone-I’ve-got-stuff-on-my-mind-tend-to-yourselves-can’t-you-see-I’m-busy?), it did not give me what I wanted as far as family life was concerned.
Then last week’s ice day off from school was sort of the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back as we had an entire day of individual screens for all members of the family, plus headphones. And when even my 14 year-old said he was needing some parameters set around screens after that crazy day, I knew it was time.
I need some ideas and funny enough, I went to my own book, because I knew I had done this before! And I knew I had even written about it… “As our kids have gotten older and the number of screens have increased, we felt we were heading down the slippery slope of obsessive screen time…” So now, just because the kids were older still and the screens had multiplied again, didn’t mean we needed to necessarily recreate the wheel.
So I opened to Chapter 52 SCREEN FREE, which isn’t about really being screen free, just partially screen-free in various times and places. And there were some ideas I knew I could implement again – things like screen free zones in the house and screen free hours during the day and a day or two of complete screen-freeness during the week. We’re going to start today and I think we’ll start with a little smart phone holding tank for all the tiny screens in the family. We’ll put them all together so they can keep each other company for those few hours of the day after school and before dinner.
And when the pre-teens come over this weekend to hang out and maybe even sleep over? I’m going to follow the lead of another mom I know who decided that pre-teen gatherings at her house would require each participant checking their phone into the resident parent. So that when they were all together they would be really together, body, mind and spirit.
That’s what I’m going for. Not totalitarianism, just a little more time when we can all be together body, mind and spirit too. Them. And me.
*If you want to do something official about your screen time, The Center for Commercial Free Childhood hosts an annual screen free week, during which you can create your own campaign at home, at schools or in your community.