It should come as no surprise to parents in 2015, that our kids are spending more time than they probably should in front of their screens. From TV’s to iPads/Tablets to various gaming systems, there are screens all around them, begging to be used.
This past summer, I admittedly had a really hard time balancing being a work-at-home-mom while having all three kids with me, all day long. At first, I was operating very “all or nothing” style…meaning, we would take one full day and be gone to the zoo or a splash pad, etc…and then the next day, we would stay in all day, so I could work. That method proved to only exhaust all of us on the busy day and make for some pretty cranky children on the next day.
So then I tried a new approach of doing half days: we would do something out of the house for part of the day and then come back home for the second part. But even still, it seemed that no matter what I did with the kids…it was never enough. The second they were left to play by themselves, I started hearing the groaning cries “I’m BORED mom!” Seriously kid? Figure it out.
And they usually did figure it out…problem was, it more than often involved a screen. And because I was desperate to get a little bit of work done, I would allow it. Now, I’m going to just say right here that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little bit of screen time. Most of the shows and apps we have on the iPads are educational and quite honestly, I’ve witnessed their teaching effect on my children.
But the problem is that as summer continued on and we carried on in this cycle, my kids, particularly my oldest, became dependent on screens. My kids have wild imaginations. I’ve seen them set up pet shops in my kitchen, using the island stools as cages and place all their stuffies in them, with names and price tags to boot. They’ve created magical kingdoms in their bedrooms where they are the king and queen and take down all kinds of evil intruders. And even when they get into my makeup (which I highly dislike), I’ve still seen them exercise a beautiful display of artistry as they play with the “forbidden fruit.”
The problem is that when they get so sucked into their screens, they stop engaging those fierce imaginations. And I’ve started to see that, especially with my oldest. It’s to a point where they no longer view it as a treat or a special quiet time but as their right to watch it whenever they want.
So, after chatting with a few friends last week, I’ve decided that I am going to try a zero screen time weekday challenge this week. I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous as I think it will mean more work for me just dealing with whining, bad attitudes and the mess that they will create once they remember how to play. But, I think it will be worth it. Getting back to the simple pleasures of childhood and forgetting the somewhat mind-numbing screens I think will do us all a bit of good.
So who’s with me? Are your kids spending a little too much time in front of the screen? Why not join me this week for a zero screen time challenge! We can do this! Let me know in the comments below if you are in and we will report back in one week to see how it went!