Technology in my house, and our addiction to it is out of control. It’s not just my children, either. After all, I write a blog and I am a co-founder in an online Facebook group, Moms4Moms. So I too am on my phone or my computer a lot. Probably even more than I realize. So, my husband and I decided that as of 5 p.m. last Friday, most electronics were forbidden until 9 a.m. Sunday.
Here were the rules:
1. No television including videos, video games etc.
2. No portable electronics. No PSP, no GameBoy, no Ipads, Itouches, or Iphones (unless it is being used to make a phone call).
3. No computers, other than a brief reprieve for my husband on Saturday to check his work e-mail.
So in short, no Twitter, no Facebook, no texting, no e-mails. Nothing. We just sat my kids down and explained this to them. Here is my 5 year-olds reaction. http://youtu.be/RbYzGBe98XQ.
Fortunately, we had plans for Friday night already. We took my kids to try out a circus class at The Circus Place, and they loved it!
After the class, we met friends in a neighboring town for pizza and an antique car show. It was a beautiful night, and it was quite liberating not to have my phone with me. I am a bit of a phone addict, checking my e-mail every few minutes, texting my clients and friends, in short, not really being present in the moment with my kids. After the car show we wandered into an antique shop and I bought the most amazing beads! It was a great night!
By the time we got home, everyone was exhausted so we had a brief chat about the best part of our day (a tradition we do every evening in my house). My son said the best part was the Car Show, and my daughter said it was swimming (we had done that earlier in the day). Then we chatted about plans for Saturday. My daughter started whining about not being able to watch television , and to her I replied, "It is going to be great." To which she replied, "This will be great for you cause you are the parents, not great for us cause we are the kids." Oh boy.
My daughter asked if we could play tennis on Saturday, and I said maybe depending on the weather. Then my son, Chase, said "how will we know the weather?" I thought for a second, because here is where I would have reached for weather.com, or turned on the news. Then he said, "Oh mom, I know, we can spit into the wind, then we will know the weather." Ok.
I woke up around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, and reached for the remote. Then I realized I couldn't turn the news on. Hmmm. So I grabbed my book, Gone Girl. I realized the key to doing this type of weekend is making sure each person has a great book for down time (instead of t.v.). As I was reading my book, my kids climbed into bed with me and start whining and fighting - normally they would have gone to the playroom and turned on the television. That's when I realized I needed a plan, because I was starting to have second thoughts. We all went into the kitchen and made homemade pancakes. Then after breakfast, I gave them the chore of cleaning their playroom. By 9:30 the playroom was straightened up, and they sat down at the craft table and began to play Wiki Sticks, without my prompting!
They played together until 3 p.m.! Not just played, but played well! No fighting, no problems, nothing! I know other moms are reading this with their jaws open - that's how I spent most of Saturday - waiting for them to start fighting! But no, I read my book and cleaned the house in total peacefulness. Around 3 p.m., my son was swinging my daughters American Girl in the air, and he broke the leg off. Lots of tears. So that's when we needed a distraction, and here is where I would have normally turned to the television. We decided to go for a walk, and turned it into a scavenger hunt! I gave each of my kids a list of 5 things they needed to find on the walk, and at every corner each took a turn determining which way we would walk. We just sort of got lost in my neighborhood for an hour, and it was great.
When we got home, we made chocolate chip cookies, then the kids played outside with my husband for a bit while I prepared dinner. At dinner, again we asked what the best part of the day was.
Blake "Playing tennis outside with daddy."
Chase "The scavenger hunt. Oh and can we keep the t.v's off tomorrow too?"
After dinner, we cleaned up and played Charades. Then they asked if they could have a sleepover in each other's bedroom. Wow, no fighting all day, and they still want to be together?
Here is what I learned
I should start by saying that we did this to get my children away from the televisions, computers and video games. To teach them that you can survive without all of these modern conveniences. What ended up happening though, was I was taught a much more valuable lesson.
My kids deserve my attention just as much, if not more than my businesses do. After all, I don't teach a client while distracted by my children, so why should I be with my children while I am distracted by my phone, or my computer? I can't tell you how many times I have been sitting at my computer, writing a blog post, setting up a workout, downloading music for my classes, and my children will say, "Mom, mom, mom, can you listen to me?" This weekend, they had my undivided attention. Shouldn't we try for it always to be that way? When we are working, we should be present with that, and when we are with our kids, we should be present with them. Technology is an amazing thing, but maybe we don't need to be connected to it 24/7, because being connected to Facebook, and Twitter and e-mail affects the connections that really matter. This "experiment" forced us to find activities as a family that maybe we would not have done because we all would have been in separate rooms, watching t.v., on the computer, or playing video games.
The outside world will not fall apart without me. I don't need to answer an e-mail the second I receive it. I won't miss out on anything if I don't check my Facebook ten times a day, but I might miss out on something bigger if I do.
As an at home "working mother", it is very hard not to have my work infiltrate my family time. I don't have an outside office I go to, it is all done at home, so I don't have an "off" button. But I realized I need to find one, so I have decided that I will try to set aside work time, when my kids know that I need to concentrate on my work, and I will set aside family time, where my kids know it's about them.
My husband and I are seriously considering working weekends like this into our regular routine, and I think it would be great for every family to try it. For us, it was just the "reset button" we needed as a family.