Screen Free Week 2017 Reflections

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The first week of May, our family participated in our fifth annual Screen Free Week where we pulled out the plugs from our screen devices (tvs, laptop, tablets, and the social media on our phones) and spent the week unplugged and looking up.

At five years in, everyone in our family is pretty familiar with how the week operates and has turned into basically a standard 'holiday' week that we celebrate at this time year; like Mardi Gras or St. Patrick's Day, or Shark Week.  In fact, at these ages (with no phones or devices of their own), the kids enjoy screen free week mostly because they get us all to themselves as WE (the parents) are not stuck with our noses in our devices.

And so, as in years past, I tape up a reminder note on the television and flip off it's surge protector, I tuck the iPad on top of the fridge and let the battery waste away, I close my laptop down, and we stow our phones on the kitchen counter in hopes of forgetting about them. And we get about to living.

There is plenty of time for cooking, baking, and eating during Screen Free week.  The kids made our Taco Tuesday dinner all by themselves and the girls jumped in on helping to make Surprise monkey bread and blueberry cookies for snacks.  There is also a lot of time for sitting together and enjoying meals together.  We have a standard no devices at the dinner table rule - but often times during lunch, I'll admit, I feed the kids and eat mine at the counter 'on the go' while paying our bills online or blogging or sending emails.  This week, I just sat at the table and had lunch with them which was certainly a change of pace --so.much.endless.talking from both girls.

Also, during Screen Free Week, we read, a lot. 
We never did make to the library because by the time the girls woke up, Rust was already headed for his first nap of the day, and then by the time he woke up and lunch, and then it would be cutting it to close to the bus stop for Grey..blah blah blah, we just never made it.  But no worries as our in-home library is pretty extensive and we had plenty of reading material available to keep everyone satisfied all week.  And I logged some serious hours and finally finished the book The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison that I had been slowly (blissfully) chipping away at all year!

We did our regular weekly chores and got them all finished each day! Plus, I even threw in a few extras like wiping down baseboards and cleaning out the pantry/refrigerator of expired/un-used items, and deep cleaning the couch cushions.  Probably the second best part as a Mum about screen free week is how much gets down in terms of household duties.  It's amazing the amount of time I have when devices are removed from the picture (ugh, hate admitting that every year, but seriously).  

Besides a few little bonus chores, I also took the speedrail into crazytown.  Meaning = I loaded up all the toys into garbage bags (six of them by the end!) and hauled everything to the attic where it will stay for some other day - months from now when I have the sanity to go through it all (sorry future Tab).  

This act, then prompted a deep clean and furniture rearranging in the kids' bedrooms, playroom, and living room.  After coming home three days in a row from work where the house looked drastically different than the day before, Brandon finally said, "It's like a home renovation reveal show every time I come home from work!"  I was highly productive during the unplugged week, but also flat out, dead tired every night - so, another perk -  9:30p bedtimes on the daily. 

Lola is judging me and my descend into the 'get-rid-of-all-the-things' abyss.
The kids have been playing so much better now that the overwhelming amount of choices have been removed from their play things.  Which is what every minimalist ever has said before but is darn near impossible to believe until you see it with you own eyes.  It takes me now FIVE MINUTES to clean up the entire upstairs.  It's amazing.  They've only asked for two things that have been removed (Barbie doll house and a whole mess of babydoll clothes) and when I told them it's in the attic they say, "Oh yeah...okay." 

Oddly enough, we also spent a lot of time focused on bugs.  The girls liked using our Usborne Big Book of Bugs to try to figure out what kind of insects they were seeing.  Gemma was very interested in locating caterpillar nests outside in the trees and bushes (ew).  And we were able to move our chrysalis caterpillars into the butterfly habitat to wait for them to 'hatch.' 

We spent four evenings at the baseball diamond cheering, playing, coaching, and eating (both concession stand and our own homemade 'fast food' in tupperware containers).  It was kind of a chilly weather week though, so we had to really bundle up and hang in as all-weather fans.  Thank goodness for the baseball because our outdoor hours for the week were relying on our time there - otherwise, we were too chilly (or cleaning too much! ha!) to spend much time outside during the day.  

Another thing that always becomes glaringly obvious during screen free week are the small pockets of time that I find to squeeze in one-on-one time with each kid.  Having four can usually send me to bed each night with a guilty conscious, endlessly worried about whether or not each kid had enough of Me during the day.  Did I give enough individualized attention with personal love language to each child?!  

Inevitably, cutting out screens creates lots of little moments for paying closer and more intentional focus to normally rushed parts of our day - and since everyone is a little more tired than usual from using their own actual brains instead of zombie'ing out in front of screens - that means I get more individual time with kids while other ones are resting or napping.  

All in all, the verdict is in - we are refreshed and grateful after another year of participating in Screen Free Week.  I, personally, really needed the restart as I've felt so loaded down with the constant and overwhelming access to information; of any kind.  There's a lot of pressure to be 'in the know,' about so much today, about your social media friends and their posts and the news and television shows that get binged and the latest movies and gossip.  Gosh, it's exhausting even just writing all that.  A week away is such a strong reminder for me that it all goes on whether I'm looking or not.  

I've tried to be more conscious of my own use of screens in our regular non-holiday celebrating days.  I've found I'm much successful in avoiding mindless scrolling when my phone is left out of sight, so I park it on the kitchen counter and leave it there.  And now that the toy clutter is gone - it's lit a spark under both Brandon and I to reel in the rest of the house and all the unnecessary things that can be collected for donation (or the trash pile, honestly). 

I think the most important thing about Screen free week is that it reminds you that our relationship with screens is one that is in need of constant reflection and readjusting if necessary.  Screen awareness is always what I am reminded of after our week being unplugged.  Life feels so much more enjoyable, and real, and valuable when we're looking up and into the faces of the people we love.

Did you participate in any way? I'd love to hear about it! 

1 comment:

  1. I loved this so much. I've been extra connected to my phone with all of the home selling/buying madness and I can feel the toll. I cannot wait to unplug. Soon!