Last week we were challenged by E’s school to try a week free of screens…all screens…TVs, iPads and phones are all off limits. We had nightly challenges to help with ideas of things to do. I admit, the thought of not having the iPad handy to entertain the kids a little was scary but I knew it would be good for all of us to do.
Leading up to the week, we tried to explain it to the kids but it didn’t really sink in until we got home from school on Monday. That’s when they would grab the iPads and I would go to work making them a quick sandwich. E, without thinking really, asked for his iPad and I kindly said no and told him to go find something else to do. He started crying and immediately panicked…
E: “what am I going to do?”
Me: “You know where the toys, books and crayons are”
He pouted till we went to the gym. Afterwards, Daddy took the kids into the basement to “exercise” with them while I made dinner. Before we knew it, dinner was done, baths were taken and bed time was upon us.
Tuesday was a little more of the same. Some whining but it was couple with excitement about the promise to bake with them after work.
By Wednesday he didn’t even ask for the iPad and didn’t seem to mind a day without it. We had a dance party, went to the gym and I dug up some markers so they could draw on the windows. We had an absolute blast. The only time I took my phone out was to take the pictures of the fun.
Thursday included some house chores which they eagerly got involved in. I put them to work “cleaning” the bathroom. It was so much fun to watch them work as a team. As different as these two are, they really love each other and get along so well.
Friday night had us building forts and staying up later than usual playing Candy Land.
Overall the week was a healthy thing to do…tough but good. The honest truth is that as a parent, I realized how much I lean on technology to entertain the kids. I hated that they (and probably me too) have gotten so addicted to technology. There’s a time and place for it and I realized it’s infiltrated too much of our lives.
While we have re-introduced the technology, we have reset expectations for how much we would use it. We introduced the “phone stack” and they sit on the counter until the kids go to bed. We all know how hard it is to find “balance” when we think about fitness and the demands of life but the same challenge exists in this realm.
We’re not perfect parents but I realize now I need to try a little harder.