Partly Cloudy   65.0F  |  Forecast »

Screen-Free Week, Day 3: Sick Day Struggle

It's challenging enough to keep kids happy when they're feeling ill. But it becomes even more difficult when you can't rely on television to keep them content.

When I wrote about Screen-Free Week for Metro Parent, we asked three families to do the challenge in March and interviewed them about their experience. All three said they struggled with an unexpected snow day that kept the kids home from school.

In fact, one of the families quit the challenge altogether that day, and I can totally understand why. It was a situation where the mom, Allia, had to get permission to work from home so she could watch her 7-year-old son, Jordan, for whom they had no other child care option.

Allia has a stressful job in public relations and had to stay logged in putting out fires all day. Jordan is an only child so there was no one else for him to play with, and the bitter cold prevented him from going outside. To make matters worse, the family had just moved into a new home and many of Jordan's toys were still packed away.

"He had read books, drawn pictures, done cutouts, played with the dog. I didn't have anything else for him to do," Allia told me for the article. "I hit the wall."
Allia turned on the TV and called off the challenge four days in.

I thought of Allia today (day four of our own Screen-Free Week) because our 5-year-old daughter is sick and has to stay home from school. Yet I volunteered to help the gym teacher with that ongoing golf unit for a few hours this morning, as well as stuff the kindergarten teacher's Friday Folders. Not to mention all my deadlines.

My husband works from home so he'll be here to watch her, but I can foresee the boredom and frustration that's bound to set in.

I am ashamed to confess that sick days for my children normally mean binge watching … hour after hour of shows, video games, movies, anything to keep them resting in one place. Am I alone in this? I hope not!

Without screens, what will she do today? Especially if I'm gone and my husband is in Allia's position, trying to juggle the demands of his job with distributing medicine, making meals and coming up with screen-free activities that can be done on the couch.

Here's my plan: I'm going to pack a lunch as if she were going to school, which she can eat "camping out" in the living room. That should fill up almost an hour since she eats slow. I will also stuff an activity bag with coloring books, art paper, crayons, markers, scissors and glue. I will stack some of her favorite books on the table next to the couch, including that set of audio Disney books that uses a device that looks like a smartphone – almost a screen!

Outside of that, we'll just have to have a talk with her about keeping busy in quiet ways, but even if she wants to play with her dolls, Calico Critters, or tea set it means one of us has to fetch everything and set it up for her, then put it all away.

Unfortunately that is what's great about virtual babysitters. You just press a button and the kids are occupied for hours. (I'm a terrible mom!)

Well, this is what parenting is all about, being adaptive, flexible and always available regardless of how you foresaw your day, your week or your life! Didn't I read somewhere that the average parent is "interrupted" by their children every three minutes? It's terrible to think of our children as interruptions, and Screen-Free Week is designed to flip our perception so we recognize that media is the true intrusion.

But in the days of 'working from home,' it's nearly impossible to balance job and family and do a good job with either one. Let alone preserve our own sanity.

Anyway, I'll only be gone for a few hours and tomorrow is another day.

Let's just hope she can go back to school!

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Mushroom Recipes for a Family Meal

Mushroom Recipes for a Family Meal

Mushrooms can be a tough sell with picky eaters but these dishes will entice them to try a bite – or two!

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Tennessee Law Prevents Parents from Giving Child a Hybrid Last Name

Carl Abramson and Kim Sarubbi mashed together their surnames for their first two kids, but Tennessee law says they can't use the last name 'Sabr' for baby No. 3.

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sticky Fingers Duct Tape Book Offers Easy Bow Making How-To

Sophie Maletsky's new guide, published by Zest Books, is packed with fun crafts and DIY ideas kids and families can make out of colorful duct tape.

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

Paper Craft Fun with Handprints, Garland and Kawaii Art

This versatile craft material transforms into an acorn fall creation, decorative ribbon, cute Japanese critters and cool dividers for your kid's closet.

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

How to Prevent Your Child from Choking

Mealtime can turn from pleasant to panic in a matter of seconds. Protect your child from this mishap with our list of dos and don’ts.

YouTube Moms Parody Iggy Azalea's Hit Song 'Fancy'

YouTube Moms Parody Iggy Azalea's Hit Song 'Fancy'

The rapper's had the hit of the summer, but these clever mothers made it their own, riffing on pregnancy and motherhood in some pretty funny viral videos.

Biscuit Recipes: From Classic to Chocolate

Biscuit Recipes: From Classic to Chocolate

September is National Biscuit Month, but you can bake these any time! These recipes, including classic biscuits from Betty Crocker and cornmeal biscuits from Martha Stewart, will have you reaching...

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement