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The Weekend Lens And The Photos I Didn't Take

Pretty quiet weekend with the kids here at home.

Actually very quiet when you consider that we had a no screen-time weekend. NONE. No movies. No TV. No computer time. No ipad. No iphone. It all started as a consequence for a behavior issue Simon had at school on Friday (and the established consequence in advance was the removal of screen-time).

If you are a kid and you wake up on Saturday morning and don't immediately turn on the TV what do you do?

They found things to do: legos, games, books, playing outside, helping with the dishes, weeding, chasing each other, making up stuff to play.

I liked the pace. But it was also admittedly a challenge. I had to be more engaged. I (selfishly) didn't get as much downtime and didn't feel like I was able to begin the week rested. I think honestly there was a bit of withdrawal in this scenario for each of us. And it's not even that we have a screen on all day during the week or on the weekends but we are definitely used to it as something to turn to - a distraction, a salve, a babysitter, an entertainer.

On Sunday afternoon I made the executive decision to unhook the cable box. I've been thinking about doing this for quite awhile and just hadn't made the move - the experience this weekend pushed me over the edge. We'll still have Netflix (via Apple TV and on computers) and other DVD's as options so in reality it's not that big of a move - but it is definitely "action" in terms of regaining control over screen-time.

And really, all this regaining control started with the chart a few months back. It's all a process.

Here's some of the other goings-on that I didn't capture on film:

- Napping on the couch on Saturday and on Sunday. On Saturday Simon broke the no-screentime rule while I was taking a nap (found him in Anna's room watching a movie on the ipad) with the consequence being the elimination of the planned movie we were going to watch on Sunday evening. My nap on Sunday included Anna and George (the cat).

- Attending mass for the first time in years. Both kids asked a million questions and fidgeted through the whole thing. The priest gave each of them as a fist-bump as he entered and exited.

- Yelling at Anna in the car about her not-listening-to-whatever-I-had-just-told-her-to-do and her complaining about listening to The Muppets. The next time we got into the car the only thing she wanted to listen to was The Muppets. It's a constant push and pull between Simon wanting to sing/Anna wanting to sing and/or Simon wanting it quiet/Anna wanting it quiet. It feels really rare (and like something to celebrate) when they want the same thing. I posted that last image of Anna and I napping on the couch (took it after I woke up) on Instagram with the following caption: "Finally got her to rest with me on the couch. She's busy and opinionated and independent and smart and sometimes I'm at a loss over how to guide her in the "right" direction and lovingly communicate with her best."

- Melting-down on Saturday night before bed (both kids). Possible withdrawal symptom from screen-time or side-effect of the cold/allergies that seem to be plaguing each one of us to different degrees. Possibly just done with each other. I was super done with the day by that time.

- Reading Zero Waste Home, Sunset and Country Living (which seemed especially awesome thing month).

- Thinking about what it meant to have no screen-time for them and for me. Considering doing it again, or at least nothing during the day with one movie in the evening. Thinking about the ways in which we connect with one another. Thinking about how much I liked having them help me in the yard and that I need to invite them more. Thinking a lot about my own growing up - our down times (forced "quiet" times) around the house, the sports, working/helping/watching my parents work in the yard, playing golf, hot dogs and cokes for weekend lunches.

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82 thoughts

  1. A. Sanborn says…
    04/23/2013

    Love the - realness - of this post!

    Reminds me of the summer I took the TV away! Purchased a membership to a larger town library (still maintain) along with our local library. Since we're not computer, tablet, X-Box, Wii, ipod/ipad crazed family we spend lots of time reading in the same room together, board games and Family DVD movie night/time chosen from netflix, personal collection or FREE from the library.

    Great move with disconnecting from outside distractions, Ali. It gets easier...

    Have a beautiful week!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Jo-Anne from ZA says…
    04/23/2013

    Lovely post Ali!

    I have a 2 year old who gets VERY EXCITED when i say 'Do you want to watch a DVD?' To be honest it is a relief becasuse that frees me up to start the cooking etc etc. You are right, it is definately more challenging and exhausting to switch the TV off and engage ourselves. But i truly believe in the end it will definately pay off in regards to the relationships we have with our loved ones and the quality time we spend with them. I know it is hard work:-)

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Gaele says…
    04/23/2013

    My kids (two boys aged almost 5 and 8) can only have screen-time on no-school days, which means Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. And the rule is that they get to watch ONE movie OR documentary (tv or DVD) per day, and NEVER in the morning, it's usually after the shower and before dinner. They have to choose what they want to see, and more often than not they fight over a DVD. I understand that they do not like/want to see the same things, so we have a small tv in our masterbedroom with a DVD player that only serves that purpose. They sometimes complaint because they never get to watch tv before school/after school, can't watch cartoon networks. Yes, we are very strict on the subject of TV and screen time. So far we haven't allowed WII or playstations in the house. But I introduce them to different kind of movies, the ones I used to watch when I was their age, we go to the movie theater twice a month, we watch documentaries on animals together. It's definitely not easy and I often find myslef explaining again and again to them our choices as parents. I'm glad spring is finally here; it's a lot easier to forget the TV when you can play outside. Isometimes used TV to keep the kids quiet when I had to grade papers this winter. My 8-year-old told me last Sunday "I didn't even think about tv because I had too much fun playing outside with my bike/my football/ my skateboard". If it was up to me I wouldn't even have tv in the house but I have a husband who likes to watch sports or news and doesn't want to give up on the tv. But we chose to have a separate TV-room that no one enters except for that purpose... it's a lot easier to forget about it when we don't see it everyday!

    Gaele

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Jo-Anne from ZA says…
    04/23/2013

    When i think back on my childhood memories it's not the ones spent behind the screen that come back to me but the happy one's spent outside with my family, playing in the wendyhouse (we were 4 girls), swimming and playing under the apple tree in the garden pretending we were swimming in the ocean.

    We can only do our kids a favour by spending less time behind the screen and more time building wonderful memories together as a family. Hard work i know for Mom but definately worth it:-)

    Love the photos by the way!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Gaele says…
    04/23/2013

    Oups, my eldest is eight years old!!

    Ali, is that a new corner of your house? love the map

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Nicky from Okotoks says…
      04/23/2013

      Love the reading room - love the orange and green

      Wonderful life sharing

    2. Ali says…
      04/23/2013

      It's Chris' old office. Now it's a nice little reading room.

  6. Thea says…
    04/23/2013

    When our 2 were in primary school, we had a no TV policy during term. It was great! They got on so much better together. We would notice a real increase in tension, spats, etc, when the TV viewing increased. I would be so much happier to not have television at all. I would also like to get rid of computer games, too. I know I would be much more productive and engaged if I got rid of my Internet access, too, and maybe I will, one day.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Andi R says…
    04/23/2013

    We cut cable 2 years ago and it's awesome. We have Netflix and Hulu and because we live in tornado alley (I'm in Oklahoma) we have an attenia to get the local channels. We never looked back. Best decision ever! Saved us about about $50 a month too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Judy Webb says…
    04/23/2013

    Love the map and colors and sofa cushions that match.
    Seeing your garden boxes reminded me that you show the boxes and planting part, but I do not remember seeing them or harvest later on. . . .Also, love seeing Anna, independent and looking out for herself (filling up her water bottle). Happy Spring

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      04/23/2013

      I'll have to be more intentional with posting the results this year on my blog. I know I included images in Project Life last year.

  9. Lisa W. says…
    04/23/2013

    The picture of you and Anna are priceless...so many memories of the push and the pull's of raising a child. Tiredness it sure is, but all so very worth it when you see them come into their own and be responsible kind, hard~working loving adults!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Pidgen says…
    04/23/2013

    I don't know if this is the same situation, but my middle sister and my mother always had a strained relationship {not bad, she lived at home until she married} but she was super inderpendent and my mother just wants to, well mother. Once my sister got married, their relationship budded. They always loved each other, they just struggled with "appreciation" from their point of views. I guess I say all of that, to say this: tension does not mean that she doesn't love you. And even if it becomes harder to see, but it's still there - and it's obvious in the little things.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      04/23/2013

      My hope is to not create that kind of relationship by the words I use and the way I treat her. Working really intentionally to find a way to connect with her - just like I've done/continue to do with Simon.

  11. Lachalle says…
    04/23/2013

    I started last yearwith no screen time (no video games as well)and only borrowed movies for library and from our stash for the whole summer. It was the BEST decision I ever had made ever. Yes I found it very hard at first .we had the royal melt downs at the start as well ,it truly I believe is a addiction and they do go through withdrawal .crazy yes but I found that's just what happens. I showed my kids the world of exploring , reading deep(they were already book lovers), board games and outside time went off the wall I was begging them to come in at the end of the day . They were better little people for it. Then the problem I had was this was our summer thing when fall came I didn't know how we applied bring it back with out overwhelming us all. So we decided not to bring back out TV program although we have decided to buy and try Apple TV . Which I love for there is no commercials brain washing my children with their advertisements and the screen time is limited its on a every day thing and honestly they know how to live with out its probably more like 4-6hours a week at this point. I love your REAL life sharing .
    ~L~

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Ruth says…
    04/23/2013

    My 6-year-old boy (with high-functioning autism) loves YouTube videos on the iPad and recently I took the step to say no iPad during the week and I'm convinced he's better for it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Alicia says…
    04/23/2013

    Love the truth in here! Thanks for this post and reminding us that we are not the only ones who have those days where we are 'done' by the end of it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Kathy says…
    04/23/2013

    I think every mother can relate to your weekend and the highs and lows of tv/screen time. We had been experiencing the sibling bickering that it seriously was driving me crazy. I ended up buying monopoly (the old fashioned original game) and we set it up and played the same game over a week of the school holidays. It really helped bond and be a family since there is only the 2kids and myself in our home as well. If at all possible try bringing the bedtime routine forward by 15 or 30 mins for a few days in a row and it does make a huge difference to their being able to cope. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      04/23/2013

      We do a pretty early bedtime - between 7:30 and 8pm already (definitely think that is important).

  15. Karen S-R says…
    04/23/2013

    I just turned 47 and as I look back on my childhood the most memorable moments for me were not those spent in front of the TV. Riding my bike, climbing trees, playing with my dolls and cat were the fun times. Even the activities I didn't choose (and actually hated), like camping with the family or working in the garden, were beneficial to me then and now. I learned about nature and having an appreciation for fresh food. As much as I hated getting up at first light to pick vegetables, shuck corn, and help my mom can, it WAS character-building. I also read a lot which improved my vocabulary and allowed me to experience many things that expanded my views. I'm a voracious reader to this day. I was lucky to grow up in a time when parents could send their kids outside and we were safe. We had to learn to entertain ourselves all day. Kids now always feel like they have to be entertained and can't stand a minute of quiet. But that's so important. That's the time to think and wonder, dream and hope. Those are the best gifts you can give your child.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Christine says…
    04/23/2013

    We had a screen-free week a couple of years ago in my family. Next week happens to be screen-free week. It was an interesting challenge.
    The fifth-graders at my school are showing signs of being “done” and wanting to leave elementary school asap.

    http://www.screenfree.org

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Felecia says…
    04/23/2013

    LOVE this...we turned off our cable over two years ago. It was an experiment at first. Like you, there are other entertainment options if we so choose. But honestly, the most used entertainment in our house is now Pandora. While my children do get TV at grandma's house, they don't have an expectation after all this time. Their first move is to get a book, turn on some music, play cars, play legos, go outside and swing or play baseball, or the house favorite, color and create at the kitchen table. The pace is most certainly different - for ALL of us. Less garbage in. We like the vibe.

    We have that singing "tug of war" in our car too - I often try to tell coach myself that its a high quality problem when the children fight over who will be the next to sing in the back seat. BUT sometimes, we have to institute silence or conversation.

    This post brought a RUSH of memories for me...about my own childhood and about the last 6 years of being a parent myself. THANKS for your transparency.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Teresa Cotterman says…
    04/23/2013

    During the school months it is an on going rule that there is no TV on school nights. This starts at dinner time on Sunday night and extends until all homework and chores are completed on Friday night/Saturday morning. The kids know that if there is something special on, or we want to do something as a family we parents are in charge. It is difficult, but seems to do the trick. It is getting a bit harder as the kids are getting older (my son eats, sleeps, and breathes basketball), but we can reward them for good behavior etc. as needed. We also have the right to declare a "No TV Day" (weather and behavior dependent) on the weekends. We are still figuring out our new technology in this process. Always seems to be a work in process.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Debbie S. says…
    04/23/2013

    I struggle with screen time, too, with my two kids on the weekends. And my husband and I aren't very good models. It's a tough tough tough one. And I can relate to your struggles with the independent little girl. My youngest is the same, and sometimes I am afraid I will end up being her only friend! :D But I'm in it for the long haul, and at 7 she is getting a teensy bit better. Happy week to you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Latrice says…
    04/23/2013

    Love this no screen time. I need to try it. Yes I selfishly would feel the same way. You've hit it under control and i love that. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Kris says…
    04/23/2013

    I'm so happy to read that you went to mass. And, it seems that the priest didn't scold you or the kids - he was happy to see you there! So - please put away whatever reason you had for avoiding mass and continue to attend!
    I'll be praying that a closer connection to your faith will help you through your family issues.
    God Bless!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. molly says…
    04/23/2013

    Ali, the fact that you said mass and priest makes me think Catholic. If so, welcome home friend. Listen to that call. Also, getting rid of cable was a life-changer for us not only in terms of how we spend time, but in taking back the influences on our family. I love the photo of Simon's foot on the shovel. What a great post!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Suz says…
    04/23/2013

    We just had the very same discussion yesterday as our media package is about to expire and the new package will increase our bill substantially. I am ready to completely stop the media package and just utilize Redbox and Amazon Prime/Hulu when we want to watch something. I think my DH and I have come to a compromise and may drop down to local channels only and re-evaluate in a few months.

    Thanks for sharing Ali. Great stuff. Real stuff. Always appreciate your authenticity and honesty.
    Take care you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Ruth G says…
    04/23/2013

    I can totally relate to how hard life is without any electronics. You have to be engaged, you have to watch behaviors more (since they are likely to be more active and thus getting wound up!) It's much harder especially when it's just you and the kids. So glad you all survived and I'm sure the next time it'll be that much easier. And what a great idea to get back into attending mass. You give me courage and inspiration, Ali! Thanks for that!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. breeoxd says…
    04/23/2013

    Good for you! We cut the cable box recently and I am so excited. The odd thing is that I think I actually watch more tv than i used to, but I am more connected with the tv choices I make. Because there is less random noise with commercials and random shows we are much more conscious of what we are watching; we talk about everything and how we are liking it. Don't know why the strange side effect, all I know is that we are bonding with our family/tv better than ever. Plus the saving 180 bucks a month ROCKS!

    Reply 0 Replies

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