The first official day of the challenge we cancelled our cable.
We've been planning on it for a while, but the day our contract expired just happened to coincide with Screen-Free Week, so the gesture ended up being quite symbolic. The reason behind our decision is that we are sick of all the commercials, inappropriate content and downright trash on TV, so we're going with more deliberate media choices using Amazon Prime and Netflix streaming through our XBox. We will keep the Internet and phone through our cable company, though, and still save about $90 per month!
As Screen-Free Week kicks off, our 5-year-old daughter remains unfazed but our 8-year-old son is going through the classic stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression. I am hoping he evolves into acceptance soon. He was pretty down in the morning, and without the incentive of video games, put off his homework longer than usual after school.
But we ended up having a great family night. We made a Mexican dinner to celebrate Cinco de Mayo then went outside, which we probably wouldn't have done if screens were an option. The kids jumped on the trampoline and my daughter got out our old-fashioned croquet set. While we didn't end up having time to actually play, she wrote our names on the balls and mallets and we refreshed our memory on how to set up the course (yes, by Googling it on my phone).
My husband built a long-overdue bonfire (take a peek at the photo to your right!) to burn some wood and papers that have piled up, and I planted the herb seeds that were on my to-do list. All the while, we listened to the Frozen soundtrack and Pandora (yes, on our Bluetooth speaker using my phone).
Does that break the rules?
It's amazing how our devices are just part of life now and we rely on them for music, maps, scheduling, instant information, etc. The spirit of this challenge seems not to eradicate screens completely, but to be more mindful of how we use them and not allow them to dominate our lives.
My husband and I both were on the computer during the day for work, and found we were constantly fighting online distractions. I had to log onto social media as it pertained to my job, but after completing my necessary tasks got right out of it.
My husband struggled to avoid the enticing headlines that bombard him whenever he logs onto his Microsoft Outlook e-mail account. He allowed himself to read one story related to his industry without getting sucked into a "wormhole" of irrelevant links. And without his phone, he spent a lot less time in the bathroom!
Meanwhile, I'm realizing my word game addiction is a big time waster, and if I really want to do my New York Times crossword, I can buy a paper.