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Screen-Free Week, Day 2: Entertaining the Kids When Dad Works Late

Without 'virtual babysitters,' mom looked for ways to keep the kids engaged while dad was teaching. Find out how this screen-free day went!

HORRIBLE!!! HORRIBLE!!! HORRIBLE!!!

That's how my 8-year-old son wanted me to describe Screen-Free Week in this blog, "in all caps, with lots of exclamation points in between."

On our second full day he was still stubbornly fighting the challenge, even though he seemed to be having a fine time finding other things to do.

I thought Tuesday would be tough because my husband works late teaching a video game design class at Lawrence Tech (the irony is not lost). I usually let the kids play more Minecraft than usual while I putz around the kitchen cooking and cleaning, or get on the computer myself. Yes, I readily admit to using screens as virtual babysitters when it suits me.

As it turns out, the afternoon went by quickly because I had volunteered to help my kids' gym teacher with a golf unit, so the kids stayed after school for more than an hour while he trained me on the equipment. They played in the playground, and my daughter drew while my son finished his homework.

By the time we got home with take-out food the evening was well under way. The kids associate Jimmy John's with TV because they usually take their subs into the living room and watch shows while they eat. Instead, we sat at the dining room table and ate together, something we never do when dad's not home.

When dinner was done, Verick went down the street to see if his new neighborhood friend could come and play. The boys spent a couple hours jumping on the trampoline and running around the yard with swords. Knowing video games were off-limits, they never once asked to play.

Meanwhile, my daughter made a flower collage and I worked on my cross stitch.

When my husband finally got home we listened to public radio instead of watching TV and were surprised to hear Julia Elliott, my editor at Metro Parent, come on the Craig Fahle Show and talk about my Screen-Free Week article. The response from listeners was amazing. So many parents called in with their opinions about how devices and media are affecting their families. The issue seems to really resonate, although many said they are not willing to go screen-free.

I must say, it can be daunting.

When it was time for my husband and I to go to bed, I actually became anxious that I couldn't grab my smartphone or suggest one of our favorite shows. I realized that I might use media as a shield to avoid intimacy. Yikes!

We ended up having a nice night though, and I fell asleep in his arms.

Now he's going to suggest going screen-free all the time!

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