February 5, 2013

in the evenings

We are trying something new around here. And I'll be totally honest, it's been a hard sell. 25% of our family is still not really all the way on board. Not when he stops to think about the injustice of it all. When he's not thinking about that, however, he shows every sign of enjoying our new habit (er, rule?) decreeing no screen time (outside of homework needs) during the week. On weekends we revert back to our normal time limits of time in front of a computer or tv or phone. But Monday- Friday (Friday we do have family movie night, it should be noted) no screens at all.

As I said, it's been a hard sell. We've always been pretty strict with the time they can spend in front of a screen, limiting them to an hour a day, except for special things like movies, but over the past year or so we've noticed that our kids, and more particularly one of our kids (that would be the 25% holdout) becomes very easily obsessed with screen time. When he hasn't had his hour, he's thinking about it. When it's over there is nothing else to do I'm so bored can't I watch more TV/ play more Wii/ computer?

So we nixed it entirely.

And the result has been wonderful, really. We play. PLAY in the evenings. Taking away that one hour seems to have stretched our afternoon/evening time by two or three hours. Because the whining for more more more TV isn't there. (Ok, we still get some whines, but they are getting less and less the longer we go down this path. I think they've figured out we're serious.)

I love it. We play card games and sew and read and PLAY together. I feel like we don't have that many more years where we can all play together, and I want to play. It's a lot of fun. I know a lot of families have no TV at all. And part of me would like to go down that path (we've been Hulu and Netfli only for several years, so I guess in a way we are TV free, except we're not, because it's still TV) but I like to watch TV. I have shows that I love and movies I want to watch again and some days I don't want to paint the hall or work on projects, I want to plunk down and watch a movie with Will. So it wasn't going to go away all together. But this limiting, I think it's good.

There are still, as I said, the occasional grumbles. But there are more moments of "hey let's go build a fort!" then there are grumbles now. Lego dragons have been built and rebuilt. Favorite animals and dolls are cuddled and dressed up and played with. The pets are getting a lot of attention (really, who needs TV when you have two kittens and a laser pen?) There's a lot of music and singing and dominoes and rummy and Wizard and Sumoku (a new acquisition but already much played). And we're on the hunt for more, if you happen to know any games that can be played by a range of ages.

I'm curious what other people do, especially with emerging tweens/teens/boys who love video games when it comes to screen time. What works and what doesn't in your house?