Happy New Year! Welcome to 2018, y’all. I’ve been quiet on here because, well, I didn’t have much to say. Not in a bad way or anything. The end of 2018 threw us some serious curve balls that required me to be still, introspective, and check the direction that my life (and the lives of my children) was headed. In doing so, I noticed that we were spending a lot of time (5+ hours a day!) in front of screens for personal, business, and school reasons. I’m not against screens, as they do make life easier in many ways. However, they became more of a crutch for when we were bored instead of being a tool to help us follow our passions, learn new things, or to make our everyday life more efficient. The (ab)use of screens also exacerbated my five year-old son’s sensory problems because he was in front of a screen for too long. My realizations brought me to the radical decision to go screen-free for the entire year of 2018.
To clarify, when I say “screen-free,” I’m actually referring to minimizing our use of tablets, computers, smart phones, and our television. In this day and age, using a screen is a necessity, however our excessive time in front of them is not. So, how are we going to do this, you ask? Well, it’s been a full week of being screen-free, and we are doing great! Yeah, I’m surprised, too. I just knew we’d have a tough time in the first weeks of this challenge, but it’s actually been pretty easy to do. Want to know my secret?
I developed rules around when screen use is permitted, and we stick to them.
Like I mentioned earlier, my goal isn’t to be completely screen-free but to drastically decrease how much we’re on them. To do this, I created a daily schedule (yes, even on weekends) to keep us in check.
6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. — No screen time, including meal times
Keeping the morning completely screen-free is a MUST in my house. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. Before, when the boys watched screens before the day began, their attitudes were terrible, which made homeschool beyond challenging, sometimes downright exhausting. Since removing screen time from the morning, they’re in much better spirits, as am I since I also limit my screen time to keep me focused on the family instead of on social media and such.
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. — Educational screen time
The boys can only watch approved educational content during this time. Often, we watch something together on the family television. Recently, we saw this documentary on Netflix and loved it! Read this post to see how we’re getting Netflix for free!
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. — Personal screen time
The boys can be on their Kindles or the family television watching approved content. If watching the family television together, the boys have to agree on what to watch. If they fight, the television will be turned off.
3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. — No screen time, including dinner
During this time, the children have free time to do as they please for the most part. I’ve turned our homeschool room into more of a maker space where they can get creative, so they have been spending lots of time in there. I also make dinner during this time, so at least one of them joins me for that. Typically, when the weather is nice, they’re outside playing until I call them for dinner. After we eat, we start their bedtime routine, which ends with the boys in bed around 7:00 p.m. My daughter is another story. 🤦🏽♀️
As for weekends, we follow the same schedule, however I allow them two hours for personal screen time. Making sure they don’t go over their allotted time is easy because I set up their Kindles to only allow them access for one hour during the week and two hours on the weekend from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. everyday. Once their time is gone, it’s gone! No pleading for more time because it’s already set up, and they know I’m not changing it. Boom!
This change has been very much needed and has worked wonders with the boys’ attitude and overall behavior, especially when it comes to homeschooling. They’ve been much happier, more creative, and enjoying each other more than ever before. I’ll keep you all posted on the specifics of what we’re actually doing to keep busy outside of being on the screen (my goodness is there a lot!) and how it’s impacting how and what they learn. Make sure to subscribe to our blog if you’re not already and to follow us on Instagram as well.