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.

75 thoughts

  1. cher in MI

    2013-04-23 18:41:10 -0400

    we ditched the tV for 2 solid years...NONE! when my kids were 7 and thing we ever did...I couldnt take the battles...I hated how intense they watched the damn matter what was on...hubby and I are not big tv folks either...still aren't... when it got turned back on when kids friends were over they were amazed...and not very interested...they had the video games...mario cart always a hit...but I didnt allow the war games, etc ever. the result? I have 2 son just purchased a tv at the ripe old age of 24... my daughter also has one now but rarely watches it...we call that success! You stand your ground...summer coming...much to do OUTdoors, with OTHERs, and solitude enlightens me on that.

  2. Kimmie

    2013-04-23 18:43:26 -0400

    We moved recently and chose not to hook up cable, we have netflix & hulu plus. We all have went through withdrawls of some of our shows, but I find I am so much happier without all the mindless shows, Dance Moms, Real Housewives of whatever....reading more, creating more, sitting out on our porch more. I know my kiddos feel the same way, they can't just verbalize it :)

  3. J3SS1C4

    2013-04-23 19:08:40 -0400

    Your daffodils look amazing! I love the pics you share each week. And while no screen time means you have to engage more, if it becomes the normal mode in your house, then I'm sure you and your kids will manage to bond in amazing ways!

  4. Myriam

    2013-04-23 19:35:29 -0400

    Hey! Congrats on unplugging the "box". We have not had TV in years...(8 or 9 for sure). And we never looked back. Yes, DVD's are fun, Netflix is commercial free, so it's not completely screen free, but it's awesome. Hope you find the strengh to keep it that way. Kids are challenging for sure ( I have 3), but they don't miss TV either, heck, my youngest has nevr watched it!
    Good luck!

  5. Siri

    2013-04-23 19:40:37 -0400

    I am single, have no kids, just a dog that loves Animal Planet. But I do think I should make a conseous decision about screentime for my self. Specially after getting the iPad my screen time has rocketed. Now, that is mostly because I read books using the kindle app... Maybe I should challenge myself to 1 hour a day with no screen. I'm assuming music would be OK, but thatp would be on Spotify... And that is a screen.... Could any of you give me some advice on this?

  6. Gaele

    2013-04-23 20:02:42 -0400

    I remember reading a blog post about your rythm as a work-at-home mother a few years ago and I was thinking that it'd be interesting to see how that has evolved over the past year with the kids growing and your family situation changing and all that.

  7. Jasmine

    2013-04-23 20:20:29 -0400

    Your little girl sounds so much like mine! Independent, opinionated, energetic, smart, talkative... I'm trying to find better ways to lovingly guide her & stay connected. We (myself + 2 kids) are up & down with technology. We do screen free time a lot & we usually have boundaries in place (in the form of limited tokens that they exchange for 30mins, max 3 tokens per day after chores etc). But being a busy single mum, working & studying I've relaxed on screen time while we've been on school holidays for the past 2 weeks. I thought it would help me to catch up on my Uni assignments. But it's been the opposite - the kids have been clashing SO much and their attitudes in general haven't been great. So it's time to rethink screen time again and find a good balance.

  8. Brooke

    2013-04-23 22:06:45 -0400

    I'm just beginning to experience the screen time thing from the other side. With the start of school my son (almost 5) is now quite into the computer, ipad (at school) and an old nintendo DS we have here at home. I've witnessed the shift from him playing spontaneously with toys and crafts around the house to him waking up asking to play some kind of computer/nintendo game. I see him finding it harder to come up with things to do that aren't screen related. I do welcome the challenge to keep it interesting for both of us - like creating a craft box he can go to on his own when I'm busy with other things like dinner.

  9. Hands Free Mama

    2013-04-23 22:15:52 -0400

    Oh, this was simply beautiful! The way you wrote this piece I felt like I was there ... a weekend when the simple, beautiful things in life came into full focus. Thank you for your honesty. This "letting go" process isn't easy, but the rewards are great. I am so honored to share this journey with you. Thank you for reaching out today. It was a blessing to read your words.

  10. jenr

    2013-04-23 22:49:01 -0400

    I just wanted to comment about the Giraffe in Anna's arms by Angel Dear. Those have been the favorites of my 3.5 year old son since he was born. We have about every animal option and they are dear to his heart. The show up in his stocking, his Halloween/Easter basket, at bds, etc. I love them because he loves them.
    Your no-tech weekend has always been something I think about. I have a 13 year old DD that has a Nook and can spend hours (3-4) at a time reading. I know what she is reading because we share an account, but still tech time.
    I have a 3.5 year old (I know--10 years bt them--YIKES) that crawls into bed with me and watches PBS in the morning and gives me 20-30 minutes of more sleep or a nice, hot shower. I is a hard balance.
    Just all things to think about. I appreciate you making us think about this!!

  11. Gina Baj

    2013-04-23 23:54:25 -0400

    Dear Ali,
    Long time subscriber and reader here. I just had to stop and say a big THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for your honesty!! I have always been a "say it like it is" kind of person and often feel like either 1) my kids must be the only ungrateful/selfish kids in the world or 2) people dont like to document all their lives. I think its the 2nd one. I must say that after I read your post I had a chuckle.... I am normal!!!! Thanks so much for bringing a smile to my face and some reality to blogs.

  12. Mary

    2013-04-24 00:25:56 -0400

    Lovely post, Ali. Especially love the nap photo - those quiet moments are few and far between when they are sassy, busy little bees as 4-5 year olds are wont to be!!

  13. kelly libby

    2013-04-24 07:55:47 -0400

    This was a nice post to read, Ali. I'm not a mom, yet, but a VERY full time nanny for two small children now 4 1/2 and the "baby" is almost 2 years old. I've been a part of their family for almost two years and work between 50 - 55 hours per week Monday - Friday... I appreciate your honestly about "being done" and your continuously trying to use positive words to connect lovingly with your daughter. Girls are complicated but so amazing, right??

  14. Kirsten J

    2013-04-24 10:47:26 -0400

    Love it! My son's school had "tv turn off week". They had a kick off assembly and gave the kids a strip of yellow "caution" tape to put across the tv screen. And barnes&noble coupons for those who signed an agreement and stayed away from screens that week. They had Baskin Robbins coupons, too. At the beginning of his elementary years, most houses didn't have computers but we still dealt with video games. And we always fought with Daddy about the Mariners being ok to watch ;)
    So when my daughter started elementary school, we moved. And I was involved in PTA and brought up the idea a few times. They all looked at me like I had two heads!!! Got shot down every time. She's in 7th grade now and I think it's worse than ever. We've now added iPhones and iPads to the mix. I'm so glad she plays softball.
    Good job, Mama!

  15. MaryRose

    2013-04-24 13:11:15 -0400

    Thank GOD for this post. I mean it. Sometimes I read about all you amazing scrapbookers and see your beautiful houses and children and think, How do they do it???

    And then you posted this. It sounded JUST like my house. My boyz are 10 and 6 and LOVE and HATE each other, in varying degrees. We too struggle with screen time. It is a blessing and a curse. It is often the only guaranteed quiet time I get, but then they fight over who gets to play what or who messed up who's world on Minecraft...or who wants to watch Arthur vs. Adventure Time vs. Good Luck Charlie...etc.

    I've tried NO screen time but it is SO MUCH WORK! Sigh. Anyways, thank you for this. You made my day. (And your kids ARE beautiful.)

  16. jmbh

    2013-04-24 15:38:16 -0400

    We got rid of cable three years ago and have never looked back. Our kids are 4 and 6. They know they are only allowed to watch movies on Friday nights (and Saturdays if they have a sitter). They must AGREE on a Netflix cartoon (30 mins or less on Saturday morning). If they can't agree, they don't get it. Or they can agree to each have 30 mins on a device playing games for those 30 mins. In general they have 2 hours or less of screen time of any kind per week.

    We once went a whole month with no screen time of any kind as a punishment. After the first three days they didn't ask again.

    While I certainly admit that this isn't for everyone it works really well for our family. Also, my kids are still pretty young and the peer pressure to know about shows and games isn't really there yet.

    My friends do laugh though because if my kids are out or at their houses they completely zone in front of any TV screen. It's the equivalent of a junk food binge. Hysterical.

  17. Kelly_S_

    2013-04-24 21:42:54 -0400

    I think your Anna and my Addy (3) would get along well. She knows how to challenge and somedays it's exhausting.

  18. Kathy L

    2013-04-24 22:53:21 -0400

    Last school year we had a no TV rule during the week. I wish that I had started it this year as well. It forces my son (8yrs) to go out and play, read, play with legos,... We have avoided the hand held games for him, they are very addicting, and I don't feel that you really relax when you are playing them. We are thinking of reintroducing some TV rules for the summer and then into next school year.

  19. Angela

    2013-04-24 23:19:25 -0400

    We eliminated cable in January for several reasons. I missed Food Network at first, but honestly I don't miss it anymore. I highly recommend also getting Amazon Prime. You get free shipping 2 day shipping on everything and lots of free movies, tv shows, etc. You can also purchase things to watch as a special treat.

  20. CJ

    2013-04-25 11:23:19 -0400

    I have found that once children are used to no screen time, they forget about it and it doesn't even occur to them to ask. When they need down time they read, even the four-year-old, who just mostly looks at the pictures. Once you get to that point, it is bliss, but I did have to go through some whingeing first!

  21. Nicole

    2013-04-25 13:28:18 -0400

    This post makes my heart smile. I know how difficult it can be to do this (I have 5 kids), but I commend you for realizing it was necessary and encourage you in knowing that the phrase "this too shall pass" is so real and true. Our oldest just turned 17 and it seems like he was just in diapers and we were struggling with some of the same issues as you are! Keep it up, Ali...your children are so worth it! :)

  22. Gayle

    2013-04-26 16:50:38 -0400

    We had a somewhat accidental several weeks without TV last summer. I was in a war with Comcast (the cable and internet provider) and refused to pay my bill until my internet was fixed. So they cut everything off. We had had backup internet for months because of the issues with Comcast, so I could still work, check the news, what have you. But there was no TV. And it was GREAT! I often cut it on as background noise when I'm home alone. I didn't realize how much the scary, sad, disturbing content was causing me to be keyed up. And it forced my daughter to find other things to do, even if it was playing her DS. I rarely watch TV anymore, I just can't take all the bad news. But it's nice to be able to sit in front of something mindless in the evening for a few minutes now and then.

  23. Project Life 2013 | Week 16 (Studio Calico May Project Life Kit) | Ali Edwards

    2013-04-28 00:00:41 -0400

    [...] One of my favorite things this month was adding a 10×8 inch insert that detailed our weekend (reflections came from this blog post). [...]

  24. KimS

    2013-05-08 08:42:52 -0400

    I grew up mostly without a TV. We didn't have one at all from when I was 9 to 12, then only a screen and video from 12 to 14, and then after that was strictly limited.

    I grew up before mobile phones and the internet, but after computers. Ours was only basic and although I played computer games (Pacman etc) at friends houses, this wasn't an option at home.

    The situation for me was slightly different as I had no siblings but was in rural NZ with a horse (very common in NZ - horses are cheap to buy and cheap to run in the North Island) and lots of friends. I rode, read, swam in the pool, made stuff (lots of stuff!), wrote stories, learned to cook, helped with the garden etc etc.

    I do love a good film or a great series, but I really do think the TV stifles creativity. It's a blessing to just switch it off sometimes for some blessed peace.

  25. Kathleen Brown

    2013-09-16 12:12:56 -0400

    Have been pondering going dark for a couple of days.....not sure I can handle it, although I would love all the reading and craft time!

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