It seems like there was a lot of build up to this moment. 14 days without screens ended on Friday, Elliott’s birthday and the day we left for a weekend in Gatlinburg. We didn’t use screens on the way there and I noticed lively (and loud) car games being made up in the backseat as we drove along. There were moments when I missed the silence of screen time in the car but I pressed on for the greater good. At this point we still weren’t sure what kind of TV viewing/screen using we wanted to return to. I had planned to let them watch a movie in the cabin that evening after all the exploring, swimming and birthday partying was over.
Once we arrived at the cabin the kids let loose exploring the bedrooms and game room and porches with breath-taking views. We went for a swim and then returned to the cabin to prepare the birthday dinner and dessert. (This was interrupted, in a good way, by a surprise visit from my sister and law with my brand new nephew) Who needs TV when you have a newborn to hold! The kids were enamored with little Jonah and enjoyed every moment of his little baby ways.
The kids did end up watching a bit of TV before they fell asleep that night. It was a treat, each room had a big television and it felt almost like their own personal movie theater. They were allowed to do the same thing the next evening. On the way home I did not allow them to use screens. Rather they made up games and talked about the fun things they had experienced that weekend. We dreamed about future adventures and asked each other questions.
Once home, with screen usage on the table again, it was time to set forth the new guidelines. The old guidelines were no TV or screens on week days. TV/Screens were allowed on Saturday and Sunday in moderation. However, as we said before… controlling that moderation sometimes got out of hand.
Our new guidelines are as follows:
No TV/Screens on week days. Instead choose books, building materials, crafts, science experiments, sports, books on tape or imaginary play.
One family movie night per weekend. This is a family event, something we choose together, make special snacks etc.
Possible 30 minutes of TV or screen on Saturday morning. This does hinge on behavior and attitude.
When we were detoxing we noticed better sleep patterns, more self-starting behaviors, less whining, and less melt-downs. And above all, we found better things to do. That’s the bottom line as a family with small children. There are much better things to spend our time doing than watching a screen. It’s not necessarily the easiest choice… our house is messier, our intentional interaction with four children must increase and we have to watch our own screen usage as well. The best choices for our family are not always the easiest, but I feel certain that we will continue to see the fruit of our labor when we intentionally invest in the lives of our children.