When I was in middle school, my parents told my older sister, Kelli, and I that if we didn’t watch TV for a whole year they would give us $500 each! Little did I know that my older sister (captain of the dance team, captain of the soccer team, part-time hostess, Key Club president, Prom Queen) didn’t have much time to watch TV. Me on the other hand, I had all the time in the world.
It was a year I’ll never forget. I like to think that is when I learned to become really creative. Since I couldn’t watch TV (the equivalent to smart phones today), I had to learn how not to be bored. I tried so many things. I learned new skills. I made crafts. I made jewelry. I read. I baked.I cooked. I cleaned. I would just lay in my bed and listen to music (this is literally where my love of music comes from). My schoolwork became a little more fun because I wasn’t rushed to finish before “Boy Meets World” started. It gave me so much freedom! It helped me learn more about myself and what I wanted to do. After the year was over, I remember I didn’t enjoy TV much because I became more interested in friends, sports, piano, dance, and extracurricular activities. The draw was gone and the habit was broken. It wasn’t until I had Aspen that I really got back into watching a lot of TV and movies.
When I had her, I quit working cold turkey and I went from 100 MPH to zero. She was the best baby ever. I just sat watching her wondering if I was supposed to be doing something or not. My older sister, Kelli (the one with 9 kids) dropped off three huge boxes of DVDs and told me to just enjoy this time.
I spent hours watching TV with little Aspen. It was heaven. There has never been another time in my life that I was so chill and just fine doing nothing. Time and season, right? Needless to say, I got right back into my habit again of relying on TV and movies to fill the blank space in my life. Ammon and I loved going out to movies instead of actually connecting on dates. We were both exhausted from being new parents, and Ammon was working and going to school full-time.
As you know, kids grow up and the only sense of relief it seems are screens! When Taggart came along 15 months after Aspen was born, my world turned upside down. Each morning, I would give Aspen our iPad so we could sleep an extra hour or two because she knew what to do with it! It was our free babysitter. Taggart was a good baby too, but having two kids under 15 months is a lot!
I learned quickly that having screens was a dangerous, lovely, amazing, and terrifying tool. I also noticed that after they watched, they became little demons. Was it worth the free time to have to deal with little demons the rest of the day?
As you may or may not know, this last September we decided to do a no screen month for all of us (Including Ammon and me)! It was the best month ever! I can’t explain the actual benefits other than magical.The first couple days were rough, but after adjusting, it was simply magical.
Here are a few things I wrote down in my notes as I noticed things throughout the month:
Our kids stopped fighting almost all together.
I haven’t felt as connected to my family as I have during that month and I think it’s because the TV and screens are off.
My kids are happier.
Taggart is the sweetest person. Today he sang and read to Helen, and they spent hours playing nicely in their room. What a miracle.
Taggart isn’t as loud as he has been.
Helen’s imagination has exploded. She has started talking for her toys and creates these magical worlds with her little Hatchimals. I keep thinking if she were in front of a TV watching Frozen for the millionth time what I’d be robbing her of.
My kids haven’t needed me as often surprisingly. I haven’t needed to help them out of their boredom because they already have fun things they want to do like scootering, coloring, etc.
I have been able to get so much more done. Instead of watching a show to calm down or veg out, I am writing and creating more.
I have been able to read two books! What! The last time I read was literally when Aspen was born.
As they have gotten older and I have learned more and more. I realize that they can handle screens but there has to be rules. We have slowly introduced the TV back into our home and honestly I want to go back already. We watch a family movie on Fridays or Sundays, but we can go without.
I know it sounds drastic, but giving up the TV and screens has given all of us our personality and ambitions a huge boost. I love not having it. I have loved who my kids are without it and I love connecting with Ammon and talking in bed instead of mindlessly watching our screens.
If you try a no screen month, I want to hear your experience! And for those of you who don’t have screens in your home, I am seriously so jealous that I didn’t learn this sooner!
Love you guys!