Last week I was pretty much just plain sick and tired of hearing “can I play my DS?” and “can I play the computer?” words coming out of my kids’ mouths. It was coming at me about a mile a minute and was more like fingernails on a chalkboard after a bit. I. WAS. DONE.
I think I get even more ticked when I come home and see electronics being played or the tv on when the kitchen is just a plain disaster. I am not a drill sergeant but there are certain things that should be done before some things are enjoyed…for example, the dishes piled on the counter. I have no magic wand to unload the dishwasher…this is just one of those tasks where someone needs to do the job. If you are watching tv and the dishes aren’t done, expect the mom of the house to share some words with the group. Just sayin’.
I wrote on our Facebook page that I was declaring it a “Non-Electronic Week” and my kids were going to unplug. I wrote a few things about the reasons why and shared some pretty interesting statistics about the effects of our kids being on devices. (If you have a kid…go check it out!). You can read that article at this click.
Now…the moment you have been waiting for…the truth about what my kids actually did last week without their gadgets and tv. To be completely honest…I had my doubts on how this would go. Would my kids show that they were so addicted to gadgets that they wouldn’t know how to just play? Would the kiddos remember that they can have fun with each other without needing to connect up? We are only in 1 month of summer vacation but I needed a change in our house and I wasn’t sure how much of a fight my kids were going to put up over this challenge.
We were about to find out…
My rules for “Non-Electronic Week” were simple…if it required batteries or a cord to work, my kids weren’t using it. Yes, that means no DS, no tv, no little handheld games, no computer.
How the Week Went
- Monday: We had whining, complaining and “NOTHING TO DO!”. I had to give quite a few reminders that we just weren’t using electronics today. I am guessing I sounded a bit like a broken record but throughout the day I had to say it less and less. It must have started to sink in a little bit. By the end of the day, my kids had a game of Monopoly out and were playing in their room. That would take a few days to finish. 😉
- Tuesday: I’d say that this really was the first day where the concept of “no electronics” was starting to sink in for my kids. It was almost like I saw their brains switch from needing to be entertained to realizing that they had the power to do anything that they wanted. We talked about imaginations a lot and I let them know that they have one and it helps them figure out creative things that they can do. The kids seemed to bounce from one room of the house to the other quite a bit and didn’t really settle into something to do until the late afternoon. What was picked as the “toy” was somewhat the theme for the rest of the week. Tuesday was more of the testing phase…and making phase. Paper was brought upstairs, my table was covered and folding had begun. Paper airplanes were being made and tried out…and there were a few favorites.
- Wednesday: I have no idea how we got through 2 days of no electronics but day three is finally here. I announced to the Facebook world yesterday that I put my kids and day care kids up to this challenge and it was then that I informed my husband what was going on too. I did think that today might have been tough not to have the tv on, especially while I made lunch for 6 kids, but the kids were very busy making their paper airplane industry. The airplane making and testing had been moved to the backyard and the deck was the launching area for these paper displays of flight. The kids were even trying to figure out how to sell these masterpieces made out of paper. No child asked to play any game on a gadget. No one was bored. The kids were using their minds and playing board games, card games and having fun. The whining level on the homefront was minimal and the way I liked it.
- Thursday: This was the last official day with the day care kids still in the house for the week. I wanted to make sure that the kids understood that playing doesn’t mean that we need to turn a toy “on” and that being outside has so many possibilities. We had bought a slip-n-slide and had that out…and the kids ran, jumped, slid and had a lot of fun with the water! We also had sponges and paintbrushes out and had buckets of water for the kids to use…on anything that they wanted. They stayed cool and had fun! We also played a few games of Garbage and Uno.
- Friday: Our last day for the challenge. My kids had until 5pm and then they could once again play their gadgets. Our day was so busy that we were really only home for about an hour on Friday. The kids had weekly chores that had to get done and we were getting ready to pack for the weekend family reunion. We were heading on a road trip that took about 5 hours and my deal with my kids was that they could bring their gadgets for our car ride. While we were with family and talking throughout the weekend…no gadgets. They didn’t complain or argue about that…and they did a great job. In fact, my daughter (the oldest) didn’t even bring her DS on the trip and no movies were even watched in the car.
- My kids went 6 days with no tv and gadgets and they survived!
What I thought was best about Non-Electronic Week: The questions and conversations from my kids. Their eyes and faces weren’t stuck to a device and they wanted to know answers to things, they were curious and wanted to have conversations about different topics. The tone of their voice also changed…and the competition between the kids that usually came with the griping and complaining and words like “not fair” weren’t around. It was awesome!
I did hear a few funny things though throughout the week and had to share…From the 5 year old – “I did use my imagination and it is now done working.” How can you not laugh inside when a kid says that to you?
Will we be continuing this challenge? In moderation. I know that my kids get irritable and cranky when they play electronics…it is very obvious from the challenge we did and how those qualities were lacking last week that electronics are one of the big reasons for their attitude changes.
I have my own rules and limits for my kiddos and I don’t have a problem saying the word “no”. I also want them to enjoy things that kids enjoy today. Finding that line of what kids should and shouldn’t do really is a personal preference. For us…I know that if the kiddos are cranky…the electronics need to be put away.
Resources for Other Parents: I know that this challenge isn’t something that is typical of American families today. I’ve had kids in my home that were upset that they weren’t allowed to play their handheld games all day long in my day care. I’ve had kids in my home that have their own tv in their room and when I say “we aren’t watching tv right now” a huge tantrum errupts. It is hard to be a parent and know when to say “no”, when to say “sometimes” and when to give the big glowing “yes” to our kiddos. Check out these links below that lists resources that are helpful, to the point and that also give suggestions for our families/kids that are trying to break free from the electronic addiction:
- 5 Ideas to help keep your kids active through the summer
- Crafts to do with kids from National Geographic
- 50 Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids
- Outside “think woodsy types of things” activities to do with kids
- 10 water activities for kids
Jessica is a mom to three kids, wife to 1, licensed day care provider and fitness instructor. She has had a journey of getting healthier and losing weight while being challenged with pain associated with her si joint. You can read her story here.