Screen-Free Week: 5 reasons why my family is going screen-free

Screen-Free Week is coming up next week (May 5-11), and as soon as I heard about it, I knew immediately that it was something I wanted our family to do. Here are five reasons why my family is participating:

1.  I’m tired of the screens being their priority. My kids want screens the minute they wake up in the morning and the second they get off the school bus in the afternoon. I can’t tell you how many times my children have woken me up in the morning with

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rowley-1“Mom … can I play on the iPad?” Or, “Mom … mom … MOM! Can I play on the computer?” Or maybe they’ve left me to sleep, found something to do on their own, but have later woken me up with, “Mom! So-and-so won’t let me have a turn on Minecraft!” Really, boys? THAT’S the first thing you want to bug me with? I finally had to tell them (after I let this go on for way, way, way too long) that when they do that, it immediately puts Mommy in a bad mood and that it needed to stop. And they have stopped – but, take the screens away, and it’s not even something any of us have to worry about anymore.

2.  The morale of the family is way better when screens aren’t distracting us. We recently had our own screen-free week – not by choice, though. My oldest son put the screens ahead of a school project, and ALL of the screens got taken away from ALL of my kids. They all had to work together to earn the screens back. Over those 10+ days that they spent trying to earn their screens back, they got along better. You’d think that by spending more time together there would be more arguments, but there weren’t. They got along better. They were nicer to each other. Of course there was an occasional power struggle over a favorite toy or Lego piece, but for the most part, it was wonderful!

Not only were the kids happier, Mommy was happier. I wasn’t constantly being bombarded with the questions about the screens, and I wasn’t having to break up fights over whose turn it was on which device. It was one less thing this busy mommy had to manage. I will gladly welcome a happier home for a week without screens!

3.  I need to show my kids that I can go without screens, too. 2014Apr011cLet’s face it, between using the computer for my photography and a new adventure in sales, I’m on the computer A LOT – and that’s not counting the time I spend blogging on my personal blog or the countless times I log into Facebook for no reason at all (aside from the fact that I’m putting off chores, or wanting to connect to the outside world). It’s also not counting the times I pick up my phone to waste time scrolling through Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook some more. I’m as guilty, if not more guilty, of being connected to the screens. As parents, we are who they look to as an example for everything. Children mirror our behavior because they are so impressionable and they look to us to know how to get through life. I know that by going screen-free for a week (or more) I can show my children that there is more to life, more to me, than the device I’m connected to.

4.  No screens = quieter house. My family consists of four little boys, ages 9 to 4, and one 15-month-old little girl. My children, in and of themselves, are noisy. There are five of them … of COURSE they are noisy! And I can handle that noise (usually) – but add in one or two TVs, the iPad(s), my phone going off with texts, emails, and notifications, as well as the timers we set for the kids when they are on the screens, AND the noise from the kids yelling about whose turn it is to do this, that, or the other thing in regards to the screens … it just gets to be too much. Take away the screens, and sure, we will still have a noisy house – but it will not be nearly as auditorily overstimulating.

5.  To open the lines of communication. All of the moments that would normally be filled with me browsing on my phone, or my kids playing on the iPad, or my husband watching TV… I want to fill with words. I want to facilitate discussions with my children: learn about what’s on their mind, know what they are thinking about, tell them about the things I think about and hope for. I want to have one-on-one conversations with each of my kids and I want to have the kind of talks where we all contribute. I want to spend those times where we tune each other out, tuning into  one another.

I’m not saying that our family doesn’t talk, because we do! I just want MORE of that. One of my biggest fears is that my kids will get to be teenagers and they won’t talk to me … that they won’t want to share anything with me. As a mother, that worry eats away at me! I know that in order to prevent that from happening, I have to make sure the lines of communication are open now. We often get caught up in the day to day tasks, making sure everything is getting done, that there is little room for extra dialogue. With screens in the picture, good and meaningful conversation is practically minimal.

As much as the screens drive me nuts, I do know that there are some benefits to having them (they have helped my mental health on several occasions). I’m not saying they are evil and should be abolished – but cutting down on screen time or committing to Screen-Free Week will definitely do our family some good! I’m looking forward to May 5th and I hope you will take the pledge, as well!

meredith-rowleyMeredith is wife to Eric and mommy to Jackson (9), Wyatt (7), Logan (6), Cohen (4), and Piper (1).  She moved to KC in 2005, after being born and raised in St. Louis. Having graduated from the University of Missouri, she still finds it really interesting, and a little unsettling, that KU gear is sold in the stores right along side of the MU gear!

Meredith wears many hats; not only is she a busy mom shuttling her kids to and from cub scout meetings and soccer practices, but she runs her own photography business, meredithrae photography, blogs over at My 4 Misters And Their Sister, and is also a labor and delivery RN who recently hung up the nurse’s cap temporarily to concentrate on taking care of her family while her hubby travels the world on business.  She also likes to cook, bake, sew, decorate, craft, and even swing a hammer from time to time.

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