Screen Free Week 2014 Reflections

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We finished up our second year of participating in Screen Free Week.  And here is in a glance, what our week looked like:

If you are a regular reader, this does not look drastically different than our normal life (as per what I allow to be viewed on social media, ahem).  Well, minus all the napping - we don't normally nap this much or this easily, but that's what Screen Free Week does:  it makes for very tired (both physically and mentally) children.

The thing that is maybe less obvious in the drive-by view of our week is that all of these activities that are not so out-of-the-norm had two components that were quite out-of-the-norm.  First:  they were all done with kids that were eager to contribute to the play with their own ideas and creativity.

That's not to say that doesn't happen on a regular basis, but my kids are the go-go-go type and it feels activities last approximately 3 minutes before they are on to the next destruction.  They are not happy play-doh, crayon, paint, or lego artists - let me tell ya.  But Screen Free Week seemed to give their attention to these less-physical play an added boost.  They sat longer for craft projects, made up their own games that took place in only one location, and had more hilarious inventive ways to play independently.  Like the 36 concert and poem jam sessions I watched last week which included multiple renditions of "Let it Go" by Gemma and this precious poem:

My Mum's Love 
by Greyson (age 4)

I love my Mom
She cooks me food
I love it when 
she cooks me food
She turns on the tv
but not if it's today
but other days,
not today,
she turns on the tv

We were blessed with great weather for most of the week, so being outside after a very long, cold winter filled with lots of added screen time - it was a much needed boost of vitamin D and body moving.  We visited the playground and park, pretended the rock box was a nest ( kids are weird), washed the little playground car-wash style, laid under the trampoline and read, got royally filthy sloshing through mud, and did a lot of digging for worms and looking for other bugs.

We also talked about various parts of the Earth that I penciled in during the week for when the kids (read:  I) got bored.  We have these awesome kid-friendly encyclopedia-type books ( Explore and Learn, 6 Volume Set ) that fascinate the kids that we really don't read & look at enough.  We read the pages that coordinated with the days that we were 'studying' and learned more about the ocean, rain forests, and trees.  By far, our favorite day was Insect day, but we also got our faces painted like sea creatures (a blue whale & giant squid...again; my kids are weird), made ocean bottles, a tornado jar, and caterpillars from egg cartons.

The second component, and probably more important, that makes Screen Free Week more magical than other weeks is that the day is spent with a Mum that is significantly more calm and more patient than normal.  I took a screen hiatus myself (only using email for 'work' which translates to The Hunting Daddies stuff and my work with the CV Alumni Association).  I didn't look at facebook, pinterest, instagram, or tv for the entire week.  I did use my phone to take pictures and call/text but other than that - I was a screen free Mumma too.

One day last week, I cleared off my kitchen window sill above the sink and made a cairn out of the rocks Greyson has been collecting for me.  For no particular reason, that little rock cairn has given me unreasonable joy every time I've looked at it since.  It was like the creative window that being away from screens gave me helped me make time to clear off the windowsill and create this little zen statue of gratitude, happiness, and a bit of magic.  (is it really a surprise my kids are so weird?)

The funny realization that comes with Screen Free Week from a Mum point of view is that I really think that sitting the kids down in front of the tv for a show or two gives me all this time to get stuff done.  When in reality - it only makes me less efficient.  It's like I know that I have a good 25 minutes to do stuff without interruption, so I drag my feet and check social media and fart around and suddenly the 25 minutes is up and I didn't even get done what I had set out to do originally.

This past week, there was no 25 minute breaks while the kids 'zombie'd' out in front of the tv or iPad.  I needed to do what I needed to do (cook, clean, general caring for human life both born and unborn) and I knew I needed to get it done while the kids were with me or playing together or independently.  And imagine my surprise when:  it all got done!  I was an efficient machine!  I even tacked on projects that I hadn't planned like sorting baby clothes, deep cleaning the truck (prompted by Grey throwing up from the stomach bug), outdoor summer clean-up tasks, and cleaning out the fridge.  Seriously, it was crazy.
20 weeks pregnant cleaning out the truck in 85+ degree weather - Yea!  I can do that!
Keeping away from screens myself, also shone light on one-on-one time that I don't normally take time to spend with the kids because I feel so 'drained.'  Grey and I made blueberry muffins when Gemma slept in.  When Grey fell asleep before 7:30pm one night (!!!!!!a miracle, people!!!!), Gemmi and I had our favorite dinner together (pb&j toast) and while Gemma napped one day, I played Candyland and Memory with Grey.

So, the point of this incredibly long post (is anyone still out there?) is that just as last year, we made some incredible discoveries during Screen Free Week this year.  First, as revealed early this week, our new baby is a girl (!), but also - more existentially - we had a big reminder that screens do not in fact make our home life easier - rather, it makes us all feel more stressed and pulled in different directions.  Taking this week as a concerted effort in sharing less, mindlessly googling less, and even being less aware of all the stuff happening outside of our little home or family life - made our life feel so much more peaceful and efficient.

Moving forward, we are trying to take these lessons and find a way to implement them into regular life.  For example, the kids like 'waking up slow,' so they have been getting some tv in the morning and then that's kind of it for the day.  We have been eating lunch together with no screens and it was the kids that suggested last night that we all play Memory together while dinner was finishing up instead of asking for screen time.

I have been working on leaving my phone in the kitchen during the day and only blogging, social media'ing in the early morning while the kids are still sleeping or still slowly waking up (aka tv time).  I'm trying to be more conscious of the times I'm passively choosing another's creativity (tv, internet in general) over exercising my own creativity (writing, journaling, planning).

Overall, it was a great week.  I hope more people continue to join in despite how daunting the task seems at first.  Check out the hashtag on instagram:  #screenfreeweek to see some inspiring photos of how others 'looked up' last week.  And just for the sake of humanity and happiness, also please look at this hashtag:  #littlefreelibrary (makes me wish we lived in a cul de sac just so we could build one!   Alas, country folk we are).

If you're interested in reading some other recaps of Screen Free Week via awesome blogs - check these awesome mommas out:

Shelly:  was so happy to read Shelly's account of how much more productive and energized she felt as I had the same experience!  Again, proof we are kindred spirits!

Melodye:  Amazing to see the creative that came out of Melodye's week!  She is awesome anyway, but it was clear proof of the difference in passively consuming creativity (via tv/internet) compared to actively being creative.  Seriously, I'm in awe.

Angie from Risky Kids:  I was inspired to see "older kids" (well at least older than mine) accept and excel in the Screen Free Week challenge.  And the pic of the whole neighborhood crew of kids playing outside together got me feeling happy and refreshed.  (check out Risky Kids chronicles of the 50 dangerous things - I'm thinking maybe we're friends in a different life, Angie!)

Did you participate in Screen Free week?  I want to hear about it!!


  1. We really, truly are kindred spirits. I felt exactly the same way you did- more efficient AND more plugged in with my kids. It was seriously magical. I am totally with you-- once they are plugged in, I am painting my nails and emailing people and checking Facebook instead of doing the dishes I was supposed to do all along!
    I am excited for summer and less TV while we're home in Washington. And if I could get to bed on time (darn sun never setting!!!) I would like to wake up before the kids everyday to enjoy my media time kid-free. I am such a better mama if I get that quiet time to myself and am not distracted by media all day.
    You are very inspirational. As always!!!

  2. PS- The view from your dining room is insane. GORGEOUS!!!

  3. Thank you for linking my blog!!! I am on day 8 of no TV during week days. Darling hubby loves to relax on the weekends by watching old movies so if I want to spend time with him, I watch too :-)

    My tote is 60% finished and I am working on a new special project for my friends who are having baby girls... (that would be you!!). I am amazed how much I get done during the day!!

    Love you my friend!!