Four weeks ago, my kids quit TV and media.
Or rather, they were forced to quit by my very sudden and rash proclamation, “THAT’ S ENOUGH! Until further notice, TV, iPad and any other source of media is prohibited!” I regretted that statement almost immediately. I have four children, one of whom is a newborn. Media was a guaranteed quiet time for this exhausted Mommy. It was a survival tactic. And poof, just like that it was gone!
My children were stunned. Still are as a matter of fact.
What was I thinking? Gulp! I wasn’t really. Their Dad and I had several conversations leading up to that moment, debating whether or not to cut back on the media, but we hadn’t come to a conclusion. At that time they had 25 minutes a day of iPad time and about an hour of TV. Although, none of the kids really adhered to that rule, especially if we were distracted, and lately we had been distracted with a cute eight-pound bundle.
Their constant arguing and bickering is really what spurred this desperate decision. Was their screen time causing a rift in their relationship or was it just normal sibling behavior? I didn’t know (although my husband assures me that sibling conflict is normal-I am choosing to believe him!). Also, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with their inability to actually be bored. I think boredom is good for a child’s development. I wanted them to play outside more, be creative, and just be kids. I was so tired of managing their screen time. Not to mention, the older these three get, the less options there are for “good” TV that doesn’t involve boyfriend/girlfriend drama, kids sassing their parents, and inappropriate, violent themes. I was so over it all.
I figured just maybe, no media would solve all my parenting whoas.
Surprise surprise! It didn’t.
The fighting hasn’t ceased. Actually, I’d venture to say that it might have actually increased do to the fact that the three bigs are always together now.
Which is worth pointing out. Because it’s probably the best part about this lifestyle change.
THEY ARE ALWAYS TOGETHER.
Because they want to be. And it is wonderful.
They make tents and engage in imaginative play.
They tested their entrepreneur skills and had a lemonade stand that they invested their own money in, earned from extra chores around the house.
They have rediscovered Legos and have made the most interesting creations. My favorite so far being a mini golfing set. They are brilliant.
Combined, the three have read at least 40 books so far this summer, and a trip to the library has become so fun.
They have baked. They have written story after story.
They sit down at the piano just because.
They ride their bikes and practice their basketball skills.
They have explored the garden for bugs and toads.
They have been BORED.
It’s been glorious. Almost a mom’s dream come true.
Almost, only because I’d be lying if somedays the lack of entertainment didn’t make me want to pull my hair out. It has, on several occasions. Sometimes daily. It sure would make parts of my day easier. Like A LOT easier. My house would probably be cleaner too. But I can’t help but wonder if the constant technology at the tips of their fingers has dulled their childhood a bit. The season of playing under the sprinklers and building forts is so short, I want them to relish in their childhood freedom, not spend it glued to a screen.
At the same time, putting the kabosh on their media is a special kind of torture to these three bigs. They are quick to tell anyone who will listen how their parents have grounded them for life (we haven’t – this isn’t a punishment, and it won’t last forever either). We may have been called the meanest parents on an occasion or two. Yikes! These kids can be hard core!
Don’t worry bigs, change is around the corner, we are just taking our time figuring it out. But, honestly, I don’t know what the balance is. I don’t want to be that parent that says no to everything, nor do I want to be the one who says yes to everything either. I want to be the parent that does the best, most healthy thing for her children. So what is the best?
For now, the break has been good. Tomorrow night we are having a movie night with the kids, accompanied with pizza and junk food. They are elated (so am I!). It’s ok to bend the rules once in awhile. Good, even.
Any seasoned mamas out there have tips for this ever-learning mama? I’d love to hear how you all handle your children’s desire for entertainment and what your family’s balance is! My kids may just thank you!