It’s been a week since that night I lost my shit with my children and decided to banish them from all sorts of screen time for a week. And what a week it has been, filled with so many learnings and realizations about the huge impact screen time was having on my children and on us as a family. To the point where Walter and I have made some decisions over the past week about the way forward for our kids.
I expected there to be a lot of whining and nagging from them, about wanting to watch TV or YouTube or play games on the iPad or phone. And to be honest, there was a question or two, but nothing like the meltdowns, screams and wales I expected. By day 2 of no screen time, they had pretty much accepted the punishment with no more questions being asked and the most amazing thing started to happen….
They started playing with each other… imaginary games, dressing little teddy bears and playing pretend house with the bears…. and Ava is learning how to play chess.
They dance like crazy monkeys to songs playing on the radio, in their own worlds where no one is watching them, or laughing at them, or judging them for their crazy monkey dance moves.
They draw pictures and build puzzles and play board games together, nicely, without fighting or without demanding that Walter and I supervise them constantly.
They built a fort in the garden, using the trampoline which they turned on it’s side and covered it in towels and blankets. Spending ages in there chatting and just being little girls.
We have spent more time having meaningful interactions in the past week than ever before. Being 100% present with each other. Telling them stories about when we were little, the things we got up to, the games we played, the things we did. They were both horrified to learn that TV didn’t even exist when I was little! We only got TV towards the end of the 1970’s, I was a little kid in an era that was screen free, I did what little kids did, I rode my bike, played with the neighborhood kids, fought with and played with my brother.
And it’s been… wonderful!
So Walter and I have made a decision. From today, the TV goes back on, but only between 6pm and 8pm. And the iPad and spare iPhone which Ava loves, will remain hidden away and taken out on occasion only and not as a substitute for meaningful conversation or imaginary games.
I realize it’s become to easy to use electronics as a substitute for real and meaningful play for my children. And that surly can’t be good for their development. I never wanted to become one of those parents… but I’m afraid I have been swayed in that direction this week. No more.
They can now watch TV for a max of 2 hours a day, that two hours also includes supper time and bath time, so it equates to even less screen time than the 2 hours actually allowed.
They have even started playing with all their toys. Who knew, kids actually do play with toys when they’re not distracted by a screen.
I feel like by limiting their screen time, I am in a way helping to grown their bodies and their minds.