By the time I was thirty weeks pregnant with my third child I was in major survival mode. My husband worked all the time, I had a busy four year old, and an almost two year old son. I have no family who lives nearby so it was a crazy and exhausting time to say the least. I felt like my feet had been stomped on by a herd of elephants and I was having a hard time even walking. Then when my baby was born the chaos changed, but the need for survival mode was even greater. I always said I felt like I was on a sinking ship, taking in water and trying to shovel it out with a Dixie cup. I am not one of those women who ever really mastered the nurse in the carrier technique. So I needed to sit to nurse. I used television and my phone to entertain my children while I nursed, made dinner, did laundry, rocked the baby, etc. etc. survived. My oldest daughter can literally talk all day. She’s been this way as long as I can remember. Between the sleep deprivation, a crying newborn, a two year old and a chatterbox I was desperate to just make the house quiet.
So I’d plug my daughter into a YouTube video, it was the only thing that would make her still and turn on a movie or baseball for my son. Obviously now, looking back that was a mistake.
Tiny Consumer Monster
YouTube toy videos……if you’ve never heard of them, they are videos of adults with nice manicures opening little toys and describing them in a super high pitch voice. Strange, but my daughter loved them! She had become this tiny consumer monster, always wanting the toy she saw on the videos and talking about it non stop! Then she would get a new toy and would hardly play with it before she was asking for another. She literally just got joy out of buying it and opening it. It’s amazing marketing, there’s a reason why the makers of these videos receive free toys to show from companies. Our children are targeted everywhere they go by marketing. The cereal aisle, commercials, YouTube, clothing. Constantly told to WANT. It’s a slippery slope when the wants and needs become blurry, especially for a child. Since we’ve been on our minimalism journey I have done little experiments to see if the kids notice when something isn’t there anymore. I can basically determine its use and value to them by how long it takes. My son is more observant with it, my daughter on the other hand, TWO months to notice the barbies were gone, and one month to notice her shopkins were gone. I hung onto them during this time, then we had a discussion when she realized they were gone. Surprisingly she was fine with them going.
Time to Make a Change
One day I decided enough was enough. I deleted YouTube and all games from my phone, I canceled cable, and we didn’t watch television or anything on the phone for two weeks. It was painful at first, my children were addicted to screens like I am to coffee! I relied on it way more than I had consciously realized. They were cranky and whiny, and couldn’t entertain themselves. The idea of being bored was so foreign to them. By day three of our “screen cleanse” I noticed such a big change in my son. He was a late talker, didn’t like getting dirty and was perfectly happy zoning out on TV as long as he had his “Snuggie.” As the days went on he started talking more, engaging more, he started playing outside more, and pretending with his toys. Overall we started having better conversations in the morning and sitting around the table longer. I like to keep the lights low and light a candle. It feels cozy and everyone zones out watching the candle flicker. Now my kids don’t rely on me to be their entertainment director anymore and pretend play a lot together. Best of all I am not constantly being asked for new toys!
➕➕➕➕FIRST ATTEMPT AT NO TV OR YOUTUBE (5/2017) (I failed)➕➕➕➕➕
My first attempt at no screens was a failure. I caved by 2:00pm, overwhelmed and feeling defeated. The second time I ripped off the band aid if you will. There’s no turning back that way! Presently we are not a 100% screen free family. There are days we don’t watch anything and there are days where I put on a show while I sit down and have a quick coffee break. That tends to happen more when my husband is gone a lot and I’m desperate for a break. We also have Friday family movie night. We have made it a family tradition, we order pizza, get some a candy and snuggle up for some family time.
I mentioned in my post “Pressure Cooker” how minimalism started to spill over into all aspects of my life. Technology is one of them! So if you are interested in doing a technology cleanse here are some quick tips!
- Just rip off the band aid! There’s no easing into it.
- Cancel cable. The commercials on all the kids channels are so annoying and just make kids want, want, want! Plus you save money!
- If you really want TV , try Netflix or an amazon fire stick. Amazon is great because you can also use Audible which is awesome for audio books plus you still so many things to watch and all you need is internet. Perk, no commercials!
- Delete YouTube and kids games on your phone. It’s so tempting to just pull it out when the kids are losing it in the restaurant, grocery store, doctors appointments, the car or wherever (trust me, they eventually find other things to do).
- I’d recommend at least two weeks of no screens! No TV, no phone, no video games, no computer! Give them time to adjust, and yourself!
- Be patient! It’s hard at first, it feels overwhelming especially if you rely on it like I did.
- After two weeks, try adding a family movie night! It’s fun and everyone looks forward to it. I find with meal planning, knowing I don’t cook on Fridays is so nice.
- You have to find balance, and this is really different for every house hold.
* I wanted to reiterate that this cleanse is for the kids but is really great for the whole family to step back, look up from the phone and turn off the TV. Nothing beats connecting with your kids or your partner or having conversations with people who are actually looking at you and actively listening. There is plenty of research showing the affects that technology has on our children’s young minds. I will post a few links at the bottom if you are curious. Part of the Waldorf education is zero technology in the lower grades. There is not even one computer at the school. Some might gasp at this idea. However, I applaud it. I hope everyone has a great week!!! 🌸