So lately, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that we went through a little “screen detox” this last week. I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t easy. We did pretty good, but every day at least a few times a day I heard questions like “Can I play the Wii?” “Can we watch a movie?” “I wanna play with your phone!”
I had a few of you ask for me to share what I was doing to be screen free so I thought I would share the whole process!
Why the “screen detox?”
Well, over here every 6 weeks the schools have a 2 week break. They have winter (February), Spring (April), Summer break like normal, then Fall (October), and Christmas (December). Oh and they never go to school on Wednesdays. And there are two hour lunch breaks at school where you go and pick up your kids for lunch.
Phew, well, we were just on the February winter break and it was cold. Our friends weren’t in town and we don’t know too many other kids. So we ended up staying inside. A lot. We watched movies, played the Wii, downloaded a few new games on the iPhone. Sure we played real games and did other stuff, but honestly the screen time was too much. It was becoming all they asked for and it was driving me crazy.
School started last Monday and I just decided, we’re doing a screen detox. I was determined!
Now we don’t have a lot of gadgets. We have a TV, iPhone, and Wii. That’s it. And it’s funny how with just those three we managed to over-do it.
Now please, oh please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think any of these things are bad. We’re a big movie family and love watching them together. It’s just that life is one big balancing act and we were a little out of balance. Trust me, I can’t wait to put a movie on for them this weekend!
How did it work?
So my idea was that we wouldn’t use any screens at all. Now for my 5 year old this wasn’t that hard. He goes to school, doesn’t get back until 4:30 and then it’s homework, dinner, shower, bed. There wasn’t much time for it. My toddler who is 2 going on 3 next month, was harder. He stays home with me and has a lot more time to ask and ask and ask for the electronics. He was a little more tricky.
If I was going to do this, I had to have a plan. I decided to make sure my day was scheduled so I could still get things done without taking too much time away from Eli. Here was my schedule:
- 6:00 – 7:30 – Wake up & devos for just me. By myself. I love this time!
- 7:30 – 8:30 – Get ready for school & take Tae.
- 8:30 – 11:30 – Eli time
- 11:30 – 1:30 – Lunch time. This is when we get Tae from school & all eat together at home.
- 1:30 – 2:30 – Nap time for Eli, work time for me.
- 2:30 – 4:30 – Work time for momma, color, read, play time for Eli.
- 4:30 – 7:30 – Homework, dinner, showers, reading/family devos, bed time.
- 7:30 – 9:30 – Work & hubby time.
- 9:30 – 10:00 – Wash up, read, bed.
Now in order to make my plan work, I had to follow this pretty closely. Because let’s say I started working earlier in the morning, then I’m not spending time with Eli, and he’s also probably bugging me, and it’s just easier to turn on a movie. But if he has my attention, he won’t ask to watch a movie. Well, he’ll probably still ask, it’ll just be easier for me to say no.
Did it work?
Yes, yes, and yes. Did my boys stop asking to watch or play something? No. But did they play/do other things? Yes! And if I’m being completely honest, it turned out that this screen detox was more for my benefit. I think the boys needed it too, but it forced me to schedule my day better and stick to it and also to be more purposeful with the non-screen time.
Like right now, I am working with Eli sitting next to me coloring/singing (the kid is always singing!). However, I don’t feel bad that he doesn’t have my total attention because we spent the morning together doing some fun things. And I am still with him, helping him when he needs it and looking at his pictures.
I also realized that when I allow myself to get unscheduled and not spend focused time with my kids, I’m missing out! Eli and I have had so much fun together playing, laughing, cooking, being silly. He’ll be off to school next year and I won’t have these chances. I am so thankful I am learning this lesson not too, too late.
What did we do?
Okay. Now let’s be real. It’s hard to play with a toddler all day. I love my kids but sometimes I don’t want to play super heroes. I had to try to think of actually activities to help us get through the time. Here’s a few I did and some other ideas I thought of but couldn’t do. Hopefully it helps!
- Baking – Eli, well actually both the boys love to help me bake. So I let them! Things are a little messier and take a little longer but they feel so helpful through the process & you get to spend some fun time together!
- Cleaning - I don’t know what happened the first night of the detox, but Eli started ‘helping’ with the dishes and then Tae started sweeping. They felt so helpful they cleaned their rooms & tried to clean the bathroom (which ended up with laundry detergent everywhere…). I’m not sure it was entirely helpful, but it kept them busy & they felt helpful.
- Take a walk - One afternoon before we had to get Tae, Eli and I just left the house with nothing really to do and took a walk. It was nice! For me and for him and it killed time.
- Ant Farm - Okay, I saw this from Craft Interrupted on Instagram and thought it was an excellent idea. Specially for boys although I suppose it could keep girls busy too. I am going to see if I can find one!
- Card Board Boxes - Another one I saw from Jaimee on Instagram! It’s so perfect, it keeps them busy and helps them be creative. I love it!
- Color/paint/create – Self explanatory, really. We took a canvas for each keep and I taped their name on it. Them I poured the paints of their choices on the canvas and let them have at it! Messy and all, it was perfect!
- Read - Also obvious, but fun and hey, reading is fundamental! It’s also nice because I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m tired and I just want to sit but he needs/wants my attention. So sitting and reading is easy!
- Games - We’re a big gaming house. We loves games, me and the hubs, us and the kids, whatever, it’s always fun. Well, we’re really competitive, so it’s almost always fun. Sometimes it ends in tears… And it’s not always the kids’ tears… (I’ll give you a hint – not my husband’s either…)
- Paint faces - My boys love their faces painted as tigers. And if there’s no school or anything to do for the day, why not?
- Build forts - Boys + forts = true love. One day we turned our entire living room into a lions den. Well, I guess it was actually a tiger’s den since their faces were painted as tigers!
- Paper Airplanes - This has passed quite a bit of time, actually! I made them paper airplanes and then left them color them. They were flying them down the hall for about an hour! Sometimes it’s the simple things!
- Quiet Time - Do not underestimate the time kids need to sit by themselves and be quiet. It is in my opinion that kids do not need to be entertained every hour of the day. Let them sit by themselves, read, have some quiet time alone. It is also good for them to learn to play by themselves.
It’s so funny because when I started to write this post or at least prepare for it, I thought it was all for my kids. In reality, like I said, it was more for me! I am really glad I did it as it made me realize a few things:
- Time management is important and helps you get through the day & get things done!
- Having a schedule and keeping will help you feel less guilty if you have to work while your kids are awake.
- I kept an idea notebook by me throughout the day. This way if I’m playing with Eli or something and I have an idea I just jot it down in my notebook and get back to it later. I have a horrible memory so sometimes I feel like if I want to get something done, I need to do it right then otherwise I’d forget. Which is probably true. But if I just write it down I don’t have to stop what I’m doing!
And there you have it! Overall, I liked it and will continue to do it throughout the week. But as I write this now (Sunday afternoon) my boys are watching a movie… So ya, it’s all about balance, right?
So what do you think? Would you do a screen detox? Any other ideas to add to the ‘things to do list?’ I could really use some more!