I began this blog with a post entitled “Social Media at Home” that described my frustration with devices that steal us away from each other and our own dreams and accomplishments. And in the time since, we’ve done well enough. There are days we all slack off, tired or not feeling well, and resort to our devices much as I would veg in front of the television when I was little.
And that’s OK. I don’t seek perfection or complete banishment. After all, I’m writing this using “technology,” and those devices that I gripe about have educational tools on them as well. There’s a time and a place for everything.
But those devices are tempting. They are quick and easy and convenient. They contain our social lives and play. They can keep going for hours and make us forget about sleep, about foot, about family. It’s frightening, really, how much time this “technology” can eat up, but the real problem is that it can make us forget. When I have time and could play the piano, I forget and go to my office because I always have work to do here. I forget about painting and pursing other loves of mine. And my girls do the same.
So when my girls start to see their little hand-held devices as the only option, when television and computers become the only time-fillers and dreams and goals become forgotten, then we have tech free weeks. Sometimes two weeks.
We put them away completely and remember all the things we’d forgotten. It was about that time again.
In November when Arianna lost her iTouch and didn’t want to tell me, she suggested a “technology free month” hoping that would give her enough time to find it (Our youth pastor called me to tell me he had it. She left it at church – busted!) After eating her entire pillowcase of Halloween candy in nearly one sitting, that same tween had suggested a “sugar free month,” so after consulting our calendar certain we didn’t want to deprive ourselves of Thanksgiving or Christmas goodies, we chose January – for both “free” months.
So January is a technology-free and sugar-free month for us, with a couple exceptions. Friday is our technology cheat movie night. Computers are OK for work and school work. And, if they have chores and homework finished AND are ready for bed at least 30 minutes early, then they can have their iTouches before bed to catch up on the social media stuff they’ve missed (Facebook, chat, games with friends, etc). It seems reasonable to me. Actually, it seems like this would be a good rule for, oh, how about forever. My favorite cheat is the newly named Sweet Sunday when we’ll bake something new to try and share. Yesterday Tiara made a copy-cat recipe for Starbucks Lemon Pound Cake that is already gone. (Counting down the days until Sunday again…)
This weekend with colder temperatures, snow on the ground, and a couple sick kids, we stayed in… but… there was a point when three were all perfectly silent cuddled up in their beds reading, one finished a couple projects that she’d been putting off. I even knocked out some random things. It was good.
When the girls are bored, they come to me.
“Mom, can I have my iTouch.”
“Can I watch TV? It will be educational.”
“Oh I need to look something up on the computer.”
“No, but you can…” And this is when I come up with a lengthy list that’s so engrained in my head that I could put it to music and sing it like Mary Poppins. Tired of the singing, I asked the girls to make lists for this month. I helped them, so there are some repeated things like chores, playing a board game, riding your bike, etc, but each girl added things specific to them too.
I asked Luci what she wanted to learn, so we put “learn to fingerknit” on her list.
I changed each item to a fun font in a large size and then printed the lists so that they can decorate them and post them in their bedrooms. Now, when they ask about the computer/iTouch/TV, I ask them to consult their list.
Today we laughed over an incredibly entertaining game of Pictionary because of that list. I like it. The list is a reminder of the things we WANT to do, not the thing that is habit to do. May be, after a month, we’ll have better habits. Possible? I think so.