Recap: Screen Free Week 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

We made it.  Well, mostly I made it.  That's the real accomplishment here, let's be  honest.  We made it through our first ever Screen Free Week and lived to tell about it. I promised to cover our week in a tell-all post- so here it goes, embarrassing soul searches, cheats, and all!

The good.

It was a lot easier than I was expecting to be - like a.lot.  Clearly, from my planned out maniacal themed days of the week post-its that I had plastered all through my planner last week, I was expecting the worst.  And we literally did maybe one activity a day (if even!) because it was so much easier than we thought it would be.  Grey asked to watch tv one time.  ONCE!  On Wednesday morning and when I told him the tv was still broken he said, "oh, okay."

No tv after dinner meant for the first time in a year (!) we didn't have to negotiate bedtime with Greyson.  He was ready for bed at 8:30p every.single.night.  (He still wakes up in the middle of the night to come into our bed every night but) there was no complaining, no bartering for later bedtimes, just a kiss and up he went to lay with whichever parent he picked that night.  It was insanity.

The bad.

We cheated.  Not the kids.  We - the parents.  We cheated a few times because we are totally lame and have no backbone apparently.  I had to pin-lookup a recipe one day.  By Wednesday, I was justifying glancing at my personal email just in case I needed to answer something urgent (hah! who was I kidding?) and refreshing my blogger page just to see if life was going on without me (um, duh)  And Bud checked facebook on long drives (super safe?!?)

It took about 1 full day to realize that Screen Free Week had almost nothing to do with the kids and about 95% to do with ME and a measly 5% to do with Brandon.  The kids hardly noticed and I was practically climbing the walls without screens in my life.  (ugh, shameful).

The things we got to do just because it was Screen Free Week...that maybe we would not have taken the time to do otherwise:

  • took three days off this week from work to be totally focused on the kids and having fun with no particular vacation or event planned otherwise
  • made a sock puppet that Grey named "Ni-jo" and who has made our kids laugh at least once a day since

  • read the book A Bear and His Boy so many times that Grey knows all the words, including "running around like a maniac!" which makes us all laugh every single time
  • read the book No, David! so many times that Gemma now says, "No, no, no!" as she flips the pages when she's playing alone
  • caught up on our March Kindness to make cookies for the local Fire department (because we hadn't done it yet!) and delivered them
  • hosted my first ever Mom's group event at the Quemahoming Dam and spent the afternoon running after kids and talking to a real life grown up Mom (hi, Angie!)
  • Learned the Grey is big enough to pull Gem in the wagon himself and learned that Gem loves being pulled around in the wagon
  • took these pictures of the kids on the trampoline with their faces painted on Friday afternoon

The unexpected.

We, the parents, were thoroughly exhausted.  What is the deal that once you put the kids to bed and don't have tv or computers to distract you that you just go to bed and (gasp) fall asleep?  We were in bed and asleep almost every night by 10p.  It was seriously great to get that much sleep, but we were also going above our normal activity level (both physical and emotional) by entertaining the kids more than normal - so we were super tired too.

The learned.

I have almost no ability to just relax my mind without screens.  This is an awful thing to admit to you all - and clearly a big red flag that I need to get more serious about mediation.  But honestly, without screens to help me just zone out (scrolling through pins or statuses, or flipping on the tv), it felt like my brain was running a million miles an hour.  And although that was awesome for a few things (like getting a jumpstart on our maids of honor speech! and brainstorming games and plans for beer olympics) it was also making me very tired and have low-grade headache.

The things I missed.

writing my blog
reading your blogs
The Good Men Project
Googling anything that comes into my brain

The things I didn't miss (all surprising to me as they are daily regulars).

tv (except Dawson's Creek on Netflix because I'm still secretly 15 years old apparently)
new movie trailers

The serious soul-searching stuff

So, brace yourself for some dramatics.
Monday was exciting and new.  I didn't mind and it was sort of a thrill to catch myself about to mindlessly tap instagram and then stop myself smiling like, 'na, na, no - mumma.'  Tuesday was more difficult and super tempting.  I wanted to keep googling things from my restless brain, I was starting to wonder what was happening out there in social media land.  This was the beginning of the realization that I don't know how to turn my own brain off without the use of technology.  By Wednesday night I had moved into contemplating existential questions about myself and the true meaning of my involvement in social media.  The conversation with Brandon went something like this:

Me:  when I was blowing bubbles in the yard today and the sky was so perfectly blue and the kids and dogs were running all around to pop them I thought to myself - 'this is a moment that I would instagram on a normal day'  What is that about?  Why do I think I need to instagram my every waking moment?
B:  um.  you want to brag about your life?
Me:  oh God - is that it?  I want to brag?  What does that say about me?  About the fiber that makes up my soul?
B:  I don't know.  I think its a pretty normal thing to want to brag about your life.
Me:  Do you not care that I just said aloud without any hint of joking, 'the fiber that makes up my soul?'
B:  no.  that's pretty normal tab-talk
Me:  uuuuuuughhhhh.  Why do I even blog then?
B:  okay drama queen, go to bed.

The dramatics passed in my sleep and by Thursday - all the way through Saturday - we were accepting of our no screen status (with the addition of gmail checks and blog refreshes of course).

But by Sunday we were back into the glazed look and DearGod-when-will-this-week-end phase.  We almost caved for the kids just to catch a moment of peace.  After a seemingly never-ending ballad of 'Fa, fa, fa, fa, fa!' from Greyson and Gemma putting her entire foot into the dog's water dish - B mouthed to me, 'movie?'  I caught a glimpse of the clock and saw that it was nearly Gemma's naptime and said with full dramatic flair, "B - if we don't stand for something, we'll fall for anything." to which he rolled his eyes and laughed because it really made no sense in relation to Screen Free Week but it sort of felt like a substantial enough pep talk for the both of us to make it through the rest of the afternoon without caving.

So the short of it was that we survived a week without screen (well, mostly without).  The kids day a whole lot better than us (so much so that it's sort of embarrassing that I thought it was going to be more for them than for me).  We learned a lot about ourselves and our own tendencies to plug in more frequently than we are generally conscious of and we'll be implementing a few changes into our daily routine (at least initially) to see if it helps make a difference in our lives - like no tv after dinner and before kid bedtime.

It may continue to get more difficult for the kids as they get older and have a real interest in screens (their own facebook, their own 'shows') but for now - our kids thought the week was a piece of cake, while we struggled and were more reflective about ourselves than we ever expected.  All in all - it was a great and challenging week that we will participate in a year :)

Anyone else participate?  Anyone else as dramatic as my Wednesday night of self-reflection?  hahha, let's hope not.


  1. We do screen free Sunday. No tablets, no phones, no computers, no tv. And we love it. Well, I love it! The big kids?? Lol, well, not so much. We have them put their tablets, laptops, phones all in a pile on the computer desk. And that's where they stay. I even take it one step further and unplug wireless and tv just so there is no temptation. Then we go outside and do yard work, or stay inside and they clean their rooms, catch up on reading, or napping or whatever they want really......just no screen stim. They would for sure cause bodily harm if I made them do it for a week!! The babies don't even notice!

    1. good to hear you have a success with it once weekly - we are thinking doing Screen Free Wednesdays too after our week long trial. thanks for the hope that it can be done:)

  2. I did "Half Ass No Screens Week"... Ha! I didn't limit my own screen time at all, but I took away the kids screen time entirely, except on Wednesday during Wyatt's nap, when I needed to pay bills and the watched Brave.

    I was super proud of myself for getting through an entire week with no TV, movies or tablets to give me a break from parenting. We got tons of school work done, and I found that the boys were actually better behaved without those distractions than when I had them as options.

    We are doing no screens this week as well. I found that I did more intentional parenting, and felt less guilty at the end of the day when we did it.

    I loved to hear what went through your mind -- and I hear you about needing to learn to meditate! We who need it most have the least time to get to it!

    1. I hear you for sure - screens are totally a break from parenting. Now that we are back into screen time here, I am feeling guilty every time I plop Grey down to watch a movie. It definitely does make for more intentional parenting and also notched a little flag in my mind the moments that are my weaknesses when I want to lean to it for relief. Two weeks in a row - you're a superhero!