National Screen Free week is nearly here (next week!) and I have been busy thinking and preparing for the week ahead with no screens for my family. We participated last year and I was so worried before we began that the kids would be out of control and the week would be horribly long and difficult. And then we did it and I was surprised to find that the kids hardly noticed and I was the one that struggled the most with screen free week.
Here's the cold, hard truth: as a stay at home Mum with very young kids, there are large parts of the day that are unbearably boring. Don't get my wrong, there are parts of the day that I delight in the kids sharing or playing some amazing imaginative scenario. Other parts of the day, I'm cooking, cleaning, organizing, and planning. And definitely parts when I'm part of the play too; reading, participating, and helping. But there are also staggering moments that are endlessly mind-numbing. Like when I've watched this child do the same flip off of the same couch armrest 36 times already and yet still I get, "Mum, watch this." Oh, I know, I know. Someday I will miss their constant need for my attention, alas, that fact does not decrease the mundane-ness of the moment right now. So, in these moments of sheer boredom, Mumma scrolls. She scrolls through facebook, instagram, pinterest, and other blogs. I just need a distraction. Isn't that the sum of life these days? Distraction.
I'm not saying I'm proud of this - I ain't. like at all. But I'm just coming clean here and giving some more background for why we participate in Screen Free Week in the first place. It's less about them right now (especially since they're too young to care about texting/facebook/instagram, etc). My kids miss Netflix movies and tv shows during the week - and they forget about caring about that after Day1. Mum on the other hand, my screen free week is a wake-up call just to how much of my life is distracted by screens because it's easy, it's available, and it's distracting.
So, going into our second year of Screen Free Week, instead of scared, I am excited! Not only for myself but for the kids too. I know this week means earlier bedtimes as the kids are more tired, I know it means more creative juice pumping in my own brain, and I know that being severely conscious of my own screen distractions makes for many more moments of awareness and intention in my day.
I am probably most excited at my book list I have organized for myself to read during the week. I have been shamefully out of reading on a regular basis (except reading The Fault in Our Stars in a single day - this is why I can't read fiction outside of vacation! I become consumed.)
I have lined up some books that I've been reading the past few weeks: Same Kind of Different As Me and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business And my new reads: Thinking, Fast and Slow and Bossypants. And I also am awaiting to arrive in the mail: Cold in July which will be out in movie theaters this summer. My Dad said he'd read it after me and we'll go see the movie together.
I got the kids some new books too. Rosie Revere, Engineer and The Tiger Who Came to Tea for Gemmi and some new chapter books to read to Grey during Gemmi's naptime:
My Father's Dragon: The Bestselling Children Story , Anna Hibiscus, and SuperDuper Teddy .
I've also mapped out in my planner to make an effort to focus on different parts of the Earth during the week. Mostly because the kids are just interested in all things earth related these days. So we'll be talking about the ocean, the rainforest, trees, bugs, and the weather for the week. I'm using my current screentime to look up science and craft projects that align to those topics as back ups for the week if anyone gets bored (ahem, Me). And we'll be having no lights at night - something the kids like doing anyway that makes evening and bedtime more fun; using candles instead of lights.
I recently read this quote from Kim John Payne (Author of Simplicity Parenting) that inspires me for both my kids' and my creative process in the upcoming Screen Free Week (and beyond?):
"What our kids see on a screen is someone else's creativity. It is not their own. Our children are growing up into a world where they will more than ever need to be innovative, adaptable, and above all, creative. Having the courage to question the new normal of screen saturation in our kids' lives and allowing our homes to be low or no screen environments will give them the hugest advantage in their lives to come - because it gives them the space and time to transform passive consuming into active creativity."To get the kids talking about Screen Free Week, we created this list together of things we can do instead of TV/Movies next week.
If you're asking yourself, "Geez, Tab, if you love Screen Free week so much, why don't you marry it?" (haha, or do it all the time, rather). The answer is that we need to start somewhere. I do love a week of recognizing our screen dependence and how it impacts our life. We learned last year, for example, that if the kids don't watch tv after 5:30pm daily, bedtime is easier and we've repeatedly implemented that in our regular life through the year. We are anxious to see what we learn this year and hopefully move toward a more creative and less passive screen consuming life little by little.
Are you planning on going Screen Free next week too? What will you be doing? Do you already live a low screen lifestyle at your home? Any tips?