“NO SCREEN TIME! For a week!”
I had been dreading this statement all summer, but I knew the time would come. It comes every summer. My kids get grouchy and lethargic and would rather play Minecraft than go to the park. They would rather watch YouTube videos than play a game together. Zoning out over Plants vs. Zombies is more intriguing than going to the pool. That, my friends, is not okay. So, they don’t get any screen time for a week. *
We love our screen time.
I get that my kids love their screen time. I love MY screen time! My favorite thing to do after they go to bed is watch Netflix or Hulu. Throughout the day I often check Facebook and Instagram. But if I would rather watch TV or check social media than do anything else…that would not be healthy.
Screen time is part of our daily routine. I have a child with sensory issues and ADHD, so keeping with a routine is key. In the summer my kids get some screen time after they do their morning chores. They get a little more screen time later in the day while I’m making dinner. It is often their reward for doing household jobs and it’s their way of chilling out at the end of the day. It is also a great motivator for my ADHD kiddo to stay on task. But lately, it’s all my boys care about! I constantly hear, “How long until screen time?” “Can I have some more screen time?” “I’m so bored, I wish it was screen time.” My boys literally sit around waiting for screen time. Just. Sitting there.
They have also been fighting like cats and dogs, which is exhausting. My theory is that screen time – and the obsession over screen time – is making them wound-up and cranky.
Yesterday after breakfast I announced that there would be no screen time for the rest of the week. I expected tears, arguing and begging. You guys…I was shocked. The little one whined a little, but then they both seemed relieved. Within the hour, one child was reading outside and the other was building Lego in his room. Magical! “But this can’t last!” I told myself. I figured they would eventually resume with the begging and complaining about being bored. But this is what happened instead:
You know, playing? Like we did when we were kids? My two smart and fun boys got creative, adventurous and they used their imaginations! Building, coloring, hide-and-seek, and games they made up themselves.
We played games.
We played a lot of games. The Game of Life (Spongebob Edition…where this came from, I have no clue), several rounds of Junior Labyrinth, many hands of Rat-A-Tat-Cat and Uglydoll. We played Cootie! When is the last time you played Cootie? Games, games, games! My dining room is now littered with games.
We went to a Chinese Garden.
For 5 years we have driven past the Seattle Chinese Garden sign, not knowing what it was. Well, we decided to find out. It was so beautiful and serene. Conifer gardens, a rose garden, a giant sundial, a koi pond and even a sensory garden! At one point my boys were both lying on the grass and my 10 year old asked, “Can we come back here tomorrow? This place makes me so happy.” Ladies, I almost cried.
We attended a book release event.
We are HUGE Harry Potter fans! Our local Barnes and Noble was celebrating the release of the new book, The Cursed Child, with some fun activities and special sales. Along with the new Harry Potter book, each kid picked out a new book to read at home.
We went for a walk after dinner
*(and played Pokemon Go)
The entire family went for a long walk in the neighborhood after dinner. It was warm and breezy and we talked about all the things we did during the day. It was a wonderful way to reconnect. I will admit that our one exception to “no screen time” is Pokemon Go. We just started playing and it is so fun! We play as a family and an adult is always in charge of the phone. The kids get to capture the Pokemon and do the activities at the Poke Stops.
Best of all, they started being nicer to each other.
Hmmm…imagine that. This really was the best part and the entire goal behind taking away their screen time. My hunch was that the screens were making them crabby. So it made sense that taking them away for awhile would help shift their focus to more important things. I don’t see our week of “no screen time” as a punishment. It’s more like a reset button and a way to refocus their attention to what matters in life. I don’t think I could take away screen time forever, but I think this little break is just what we needed.
What are the screen time rules in your house? Do you ever take screen time vacations in your family? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you!