5 Things I learned after Ten Days without technology5:00 AM
The last time I blogged I vowed to go ten days without technology. With that being said, I meant "screen time"-- Michael playing games on the phone, or watching TV, or watching anything for that matter. And although I ended up turning on the TV, I would call this cleanse/experiment a success.
Here are five things I learned:
1. I payed attention more. Let's be real. It's super easy to get sucked in to doing things and letting our littles watch TV or play a game on the phone. While getting into the groove of having two little guys, I found myself letting Michael watch more and more, or play more and more, just to get a moment of peace-- or get five minutes to talk with the hubs without being interrupted. This isn't always a bad thing (wait for the next thing I learned!), but doing it every day, multiple times (a number I'm too ashamed to share) IS.
So, when cutting out the middle-man-babysitter that is the TV or game, I realized that I listened more to Michael. I payed attention more. I didn't think the silly things he was doing were annoying or too loud. In fact, most of them were REALLY silly... and I had been missing them. It takes a lot for to admit on here that I had started missing out on Michael once Levi was born. Now I'm finding a much better balance.
2. It's OK to need a moment. By Day Four, I needed a moment. I had to reset. Admittedly, I was texting a lot of people and trying to get in some grown-up communication (does texting count?) with some friends when Michael asked for a show and I gave in. But I saw it. I knew what it was. It was that I was staring at a screen, which can't seem like communication to an almost-four-year-old, so he wanted to zone out, too.
But then on Day Seven when Michael watched a movie, I didn't feel guilty for not sticking it out. In fact, I realized it was OK for me to let him watch a show in order for us to both have some down time/ quiet time. We did A LOT (which is coming next), so I didn't feel guilty when I needed a moment. Unlike beforehand, when I felt guilty because I KNEW he was watching too much TV.
3. We got out more. No TV meant having more of a plan, and it worked so well in our favor. We were up early every morning, and I couldn't turn on the TV to get a moment to wake up... so we would walk to the park instead. Or play in the sprinkler. Or go to the library. Or go to the store and walk around (which can be dangerous, I know). But it made me feel so much better to get out and be active and DO MORE. Getting out didn't always mean getting in the car, but it did mean finding more ways to exercise our brains/bodies. And I loved it.
4. We snacked less and slept more. As soon as our ten-day-challenge ended, I am sad to admit I gave in almost immediately and turned the tube back on a bit too much. But after that ONE DAY of giving in, we went back to cutting out the screens. Because neither of us liked it.
I realized that when the TV was on, we were both more inclined to think we were hungry and snack. And snack. And snack. But when it was off, we were so busy we weren't thinking that we WANTED to eat (because that's what most of it was).
And if the TV was on a lot, we didn't sleep as well. When he wasn't dependent on shows and movies as babysitters, we were doing more and that meant we were sleeping more (and better!). Granted, we went to bed earlier and got up earlier... but I really didn't mind it that much. It just meant adjusting our schedules.
5. I had to have a plan. I will openly admit that I'm a planner, and yet I'm awful at planning. When it comes to Michael's routine, I used to just go with the flow and nothing seemed to work out. Knowing there wasn't going to be TV to fill in the gaps meant finding more things to do. We did experiments, learned to play more games, cleaned more, talked more... there was so much MORE when there was less technology.
But the point was: I had to have a plan.
I had "extras" for the week in case one of our days lagged, or gave in to baking even though I'm trying to eat better. It meant making choices and following through with what I said we were going to do. There was no, "Well, we can't go outside so we'll watch a show." It was "It's too hot outside, so how about we make something special." That "something special" was anything from a craft to cookies. But it was worth the mess, and ultimately part of the plan.
The conclusion of all this is: WE SURVIVED! And we are better for it. Reviewing this post I realize how dumb some of this sounds. I mean, DUH. But I had given in. It's so easy to lose track when you watch more TV, or hand over your phone or the video games. We live in a technological time, after all.
I'm not saying technology for kids is a bad thing by any means. I'm SO not one of those people.
But I am saying that portion control (why can't I think of any other phrase for it?) is everything. Because if I gave in and let Michael watch as much TV as he used to ask for, then his brain would "turn to mush" and I wouldn't be parenting. At least, that's my opinion. I'm so thankful for my boys and every minute I get to spend with them. Somewhere along the way, I started forgetting that and just started focusing on what I "needed" rather than the big picture of parenthood/family.
I can say that if we lose track of what we learned (which I sincerely hope we don't), I'll be more ready and willing to do this again.