By Malissa, Contributing Writer
It’s the first full week of August, and I’m tired. Adjusting to life as a family of 5 takes some effort and work. Summertime calls upon us to travel more, visit more, and do more outings- museums, camps, etc. Managing a hectic schedule creates less time for structured daily activities and chores. Tired parents lend to tired children. And honestly, I’ve gotten a little lazy.
At first it didn’t seem like a bad idea. I’d turn on the tv or Netflix just to cook dinner or get the laundry finished. Then I’d find myself sitting with the girls playing a game on my phone so that I could breast feed again, return an email that had to get taken care of immediately, or just rest for 5 minutes. Then I was asking them to use their tag readers so I could do this or to pick a movie for the van so I could run errands. The electronics began to overtake our daily life with increased frequency and duration.
Being Honest With Myself
I sat wondering the other night why I was so tired and why the girls seemed so rambunctious ALL the time. At this time last summer I was barely pregnant with Baby Boy but we were still going to parks, theme parks, zoos, etc. This year it’s a success if I get us to a museum once a week. What was different? Why with more physical energy now were we doing less? And then it hit me — last summer my iPhone was broken. I was using a pay as you go flip phone with only text and voice capabilities. No apps. No games. No internet connection. Just a device solely for communication. I was able to focus on myself and my children because none of us had any distractions.
A friend from college recently mentioned that she’d removed all electronics from her children this summer. That seemed like a grand idea to me. And while it’s too late to remove them for the whole summer, we’re removing them for the month of August. We have no tv, games, tag readers,or phones past communication at all during the day. If we need something to do, we use books, games, manipulatives, a nature walk, etc. We find something to do. We use our minds and our imaginations. Today we had a pedicure session before nap rather than a tv show or a little time playing games. Yesterday we spent 45 minutes practicing gymnastics and ballet in our hall. The girls must think of things to do and so must I.
Are there Exceptions?
Once a week we had been having movie night. This event was less about the movie and more about coming together as a family in the same space and spending quality time together. Drew and I have decided that we will do this in August as a way of showing the girls that our time as a family unit is important – no matter what the activity is that we are doing. We came to this decision with some discussion and prayer, but decided that having this event meant something to all of us and we wanted to keep that part of our family life the same. Otherwise, it’s no electronics for us.
And What about ME?
Well, I did use Facebook the first day to communicate with blogger friends. And I do still take photos and post them after the fact. But NOT having electronics has made me think through my words and actions more clearly, given me time to enjoy hobbies again, and helped me slow down the pace of our life a little.
I often think of all the thing I wish I had time to do – now is my chance to start doing those. I’m hoping that after doing this for a month, I’ll be in the habit and we’ll maintain this type of attitude in our house. More family, kinder words, and less distraction. That’s the way I want our summer to end.