Screen-Free Week, Day 4: Preparing for a Television-Free Weekend

Our 5-year-old daughter is home sick again today, but it wasn’t as hard to keep her busy yesterday sans screens as I imagined it would be. Even though my husband was working from home, I cancelled my plans to take care of her. We played Life, read fairy tales and she helped me sort her classmates’ papers and stuff the Kindergarten Friday folders. I bought her a princess Color Wonder book and some popsicles, and ran her a nice bath.

My husband also took her to the doctor, which used up most of the afternoon.

Meanwhile our 8-year-old son rode the bus home with friends for a play date. I texted the twins’ mom to let her know we are participating in Screen-Free Week and it would be great if she could encourage the kids to save their video games until they get together again on Monday. It was a beautiful day and from what I hear they played outside the whole time.

My son still insists this is the worst week of his life but when my daughter asks how many days are left in the challenge it’s because she has so many plans offline she wants Screen-Free Week to last forever.

Unfortunately for my son, tonight will mark the crux of the challenge. Ever since he was small he and his dad have bonded over video games and Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes every Friday night. They stay up late, make chocolate milk and trash talk each other while my daughter and I retreat upstairs to watch The Goodnight Show.

We’ll order our usual pizza see how it goes with board games and good old-fashioned conversation instead. My husband and I already have our 1,000-piece Ravensburger puzzle poured onto the table.

As the work week comes to a close I feel like this challenge has been more of a test for the kids than my husband and I, mainly because we’ve really been online all along. Sure, we’ve missed Vikings and Mad Men, and I’ve had to fight my impulse to turn on CNN (have they found missing Malaysian flight 370 yet?), but neither of us have given up our frequent use of the Internet as a tool.

I’ve logged on to maintain my calendar, look up a recipe, check into activities for the kids, communicate with their teachers, stream music, and book my Pure Barre classes among other things. I even ordered some shoes online after I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the real world. Not to mention the work duties that have kept me on the computer for hours each day. These days it’s pretty unrealistic, and maybe even impractical, to get off the grid completely.

Yet we have not allowed the kids any screen time at all. Is this fair?

Screen-Free Week is sponsored by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and its goal is for families to “turn OFF digital entertainment and turn ON life.”

According to the CCFC, “it’s a time to unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore nature and spend time with family and friends.”

It’s up to us to help our kids strike a better balance, and it starts with our example. So hopefully our screen use frees up more time for interaction and play instead of replacing them.


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