Last Sunday after the kids went to bed, I reluctantly taped a sign to our TV that read, “Sorry We’re Closed”. New Experience #17 was not going to be fun. There might even be a few tears. I was starting to have second thoughts, but I had already told the kids about our next experience and didn’t want to back down now. We were going to participate in Screen Free Week, the brainchild of a Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. For the entire week, the kids would not be able to use the TV, computer, or anything else with a screen. I was also participating, but in a modified way. I would not watch TV, use Facebook, or waste time on Pinterest, but I would still check my e-mail and update the blog when my children were not present. I braced myself for a tough week.
On Day 1, I was prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn. My children are early risers, so I usually let them watch a TV show (okay, sometimes 2 TV shows) when they wake up in the morning. I assumed the kids would be tugging at my sheets as soon as they woke up on Monday morning. I cannot express how surprised I was when I nearly overslept because no one came to wake me up. I peeked into the family room and found both Luke and Leah reading books on the couch. I swear I did not make that up. They didn’t even comment about the sign on the TV as I came down the stairs.
To my genuine surprise, most of the week went just as smoothly. I made an effort to make the week fun, as it is supposed to be a celebration of Screen Free time. I took the kids to Barnes and Noble to pick out a new book. We made chocolate chip cookies. I whipped up a batch of sidewalk paint that I found here. We had not one, but two Family Game Nights. We really did have fun spending time as a low-tech family.
Now, I don’t want to misguide you. The week wasn’t all hearts and flowers. There was one afternoon when Leah was ridiculously cranky. I almost caved. I was ready to rip that stupid sign off my TV and let her watch whatever show she wanted just so she’d stop whining. But, I stayed strong. After suggesting a million activities, Leah finally settled on feeding her Baby Alive. Within 5 minutes, her crankiness mysteriously disappeared and I was so proud I didn’t give up on our challenge.
The other thing that didn’t cooperate was the weather. New Jersey has gotten lower than average precipitation this year. You would have never guessed that during Screen Free Week. As luck would have it, it rained on four of our Screen Free days. To make up for it, I took the kids to an indoor playground with huge inflatable slides and bounce houses. It was the best decision I made all week. I think my kids ran the equivalent of a marathon. I just wish they let adults on those inflatable things. I bet it is an amazing workout!
Once Screen Free Week was officially over, I told the kids they could watch TV and play the Wii again, but we were going to continue Screen Free mornings. I expected a fight, but they happily agreed. I know that sounds corny, but it really is true. We survived Screen Free Week and actually changed a habit. New Experience #17 was a success!
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