Screen Free Week Observations

Last week children, families, entire schools, and communities across the nation participated in Screen Free Week, endeavoring to not use any screens during non school and work hours. That meant no smart phones, no video games, no TV, no computers, no screens of any kind. Several of us here at Happy Dancing Turtle participated as well, including me and my two daughters, 8 year old K, and 6 year old B.

Screen Free Week started on Monday, April 30, so the Saturday before that I told them all about it and that we would be participating. This news was met with some protest and with the girls watching TV or using their tablets every spare second they could! On Monday, I had an afternoon appointment, so their grandma picked them up from daycare and brought them home. When I arrived home, the girls were happily playing outside on the swing set. After a quick supper, we all headed back outside. The girls rode the go kart with their dad while I putzed around the yard. We headed in at 8:00 and got them ready for bed. After they were in bed, I turned to the giant pile of laundry that had amassed over the past week and got everything folded and put away. With the little time I had left until my bedtime after that massive undertaking, I finished a book I had started a few days before.

Tuesday morning, rather than watch TV like they normally do after they’re all ready for school, K and B picked out books from the book order and B worked on some of the extra worksheets she had brought home from school. I thought that I would feel less rushed in the morning since I didn’t check emails and Facebook and get pulled down internet rabbit holes like I do most mornings. I actually was a little more rushed because I sat at kitchen table and chatted with the girls and helped them with what they were working on, something I don’t usually take the time to do in the mornings because I’m preoccupied with my phone. That evening K and I went for a bike ride while B spent time swinging on the swing set until her little legs couldn’t pump any more!

The rest of the work/school week passed in much of the same way. K and B played together, and let’s be real, fought some, in the mornings and the evenings were spent playing outside until it was time to come in for bed or playing card games around the kitchen table. Our favorite card games are Golf and a game called Junk that my grandma taught the girls (I’ve also heard it called Trash and Garbage, the rules that are most similar to the way we play can be found here). We ate outside a couple times, which I think we had all been ready for after such a long winter. I read three books over the week, after the girls were asleep. There were several times when the girls whined about not being able to watch a screen, but they usually got over it pretty quickly and found another way to occupy their time. That’s not to say that they didn’t try to sneak some screen time in! Thursday morning, I came out to the living room and saw that K was hiding under a blanket on the couch. Wanting to surprise her, I crept over and pulled the blanket up, only to find her with her headphones on watching a show on her iPod! We had agreed to use iPods for listening to music and she had talked her dad into letting her use it to check the weather, then snuck under the blanket to watch a show. I really couldn’t fault her for trying!

The kids were worried that the weekend was going to get really long without any screens. I’ll have to admit, I was, too! Saturday morning we set out bright and early to hit some garage sales, one of our favorite weekend pastimes. After going out for lunch, and a quick trip to Target, of course, we headed home to put away all of our new treasures. We ran a few errands, then came home again to play in the puddles left by the brief rain shower we’d had. That evening, we hung our hammocks up in the yard and read in them until the sun faded. Sunday was another beautiful day, so the girls set up the slip n slide, although they quickly found that the water from the hose was less refreshing and more freezing! We ended screen free week Sunday at 5. The girls excitedly grabbed their tablets, put on their headphones and quickly zoned out on their tablets, watching other kids open and play with toys on YouTube (it seems absolutely ridiculous to me, but apparently it’s a big thing).

Overall, I would call the week a success. We spent a lot of time doing stuff as a family, and a lot more time outside, which we typically do once spring hits, it just took so long to get here this year. Had Screen Free Week taken place in the winter, it surely would have been more of a challenge!

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