We are starting something new in our household, something that is long overdue- the no screen time challenge.
I’ve pulled the plug on ALL screens – this includes the TV and the overly loved iPad. We are Day 5 into the adventure and things are starting to calm down. The whining for television is lessening, board games cover the coffee table and legos once again blanket my girls bedroom floor (ouch!!).
How did we get here? Why are we doing this?
My 4 year old, as creative and rambunctious as she can be, is a screen junkie. I have no one to blame but myself and I take full responsibility for the situation. When my eldest was born, I had a strict ‘no screen’ rule that morphed and changed as she grew. By the time my youngest was born, that strict rule was a loose guideline that slipped even further as the stresses of motherhood and life piled up.
That lofty goal was far behind me and we were knee deep in everything I had once wanted to avoid. While the screens played and the house was blessedly quiet, I justified it by telling myself we didn’t watch screens ALL the time, or that the shows I chose were educational. I even found comfort in recent studies and articles that blunted that sharp edge of judgement, like this one that faces the fact that some screen time is almost unavoidable, and stresses that limited quantity combined high quality should be the goal. Honestly speaking, most households can do with some screen time with ill affect, yet I was starting to suspect that MY household might not fit that mold.
Something had to change
The mood of my brood had grown surly and tense, spilling over all of us and leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Tantrums, yelling, meltdown after meltdown… you get the picture. I am sure much of that is due to age, timing and a schedule that allows for little downtime, yet I felt there was something more.
After losing my mind and a good chunk of my hair in frustration, I had an epiphany: the few days we spent screen free were easier. Oh, there were more wails of ‘I’m bored!’ and whining, but overall, things were almost pleasant. The girls got along better, they listened to me more and we actually played. It was time for a household adjustment.
For 30 days we will have a “screen free under 10” house – this includes the TV, the Fires and the iPad. I’m considering this both a test and a challenge – for them and for me. I admit, I use the television sometimes to gain a few minutes of peace and quiet, but if the time truly is harming them, then I’ve got to let it go.
In 30 days we will reevaluate our situation and decide if we should start dolling out a show here or there, or if screen time will remain a precious, and sparse, commodity. Maybe I will learn that it has NOTHING to do with their behavior and I am searching for answers in the wrong direction.
I’ll let you know….