No screen days. You’ve heard of them. But are they possible? No texting, TV, iPads, etc. If you don’t have a landline you can receive calls, but that’s it. Can you do it? I cannot remember a day when my kids did not have TV time or I was not able to join in on a string of texts. Then again, neither can my kids nor my husband.
I dare you to open your Facebook and look at your history for the last day. Its OK, its going to look like everyone else’s: like, reaction, comment, message. Other than ‘keeping in touch’ what was essential in one day? (If so and so has their baby and you see it a day late, did they still have their baby???!!?!)
Now look at your email and your texts. Was there anything that DEMANDED attention in the last 24 hours? Any bill that had to be paid online IMMEDIATELY? Any last minute note from school that would have been crucial to ignore?
No screen Saturdays. This is my resolution… but starting February. Seriously, I need to prep. To have a family no-screen day. Without hiding from them to steal peaks. They say excessive screen time can be damaging to kids, but what about adults? Hiding my shyness by staring into my phone isn’t that great for me, if I’m being honest.
My kids are small. God willing, these kids will be teenagers. If they see me with my attention always drawn to a smartphone, do you think they will know any other social interaction?
I’m serious. I’m majorly attached to my devices and you know you are too. But the benefits of Screen Free Sundays, I suspect, could be huge.
- Being more present to my kids – Look, kids should not have our undivided attention 24/7. I am not their maid, helicopter or otherwise. But when they need me, it shouldn’t be interrupted with the ping of my phone. Interruption, not making eye contact. I’m modeling bad manners. And no, putting my phone on silent doesn’t count because I’m still checking who responded to that cute picture I posted after 54 takes. (BE STILL THIS IS GOING ON FACEBOOK!!) When I can be present, I should be. And devices make that impossible.
- Being more present to my spouse – Same thing, but it has its own terminology: phubbing. The art of ignoring your spouse to check your tech. Very common, very detrimental to modern relationships according to a recent CNN article. Yes, they do it too… I would try to convince them to do a no device day. It’s your idea so don’t nag them for cheating in the bathroom. I wouldn’t hold my breath. But remember, this is your challenge. How present can you be?
- Embrace silence – When we have downtime – naps, bathroom, any – we check our tech. We Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. But when do we just sit? This is a lost art, people! How often do we have time to reflect? Meditate, pray, sit in silence? We read and re-post those inspiring articles online (like this one?). And yet how many Facebook posts lament the ‘I have no time I’m a mom’ mentality??? There’s time, people. It’s time for us to claim it. Besides, aren’t you interested in what is going on with YOU, when you finally quiet the noise in your life?
- Love yourself – OK, this is sounding like psychobabble. But you’d be amazed by how many moms think they are what is on their screen. And I fall into that trap too! I’ve got so many stories from my former life on Facebook! ‘Like’ what is in your life. Comment on what is actually there. You have nothing to compare if you have nothing to click on.
I’m going to suggest Saturday, February 4th. Prepare friends and family by telling them where they can call you and why. Pay any bills ahead of time that could be dire. This gives you one day to catch up on emails (Sunday). They can reach you by calling or showing up at your home IRL.
Can’t do a all weekend day? Then do a weeknight. Put the cell away, lockup the tablet. Go from when you get in the house with the kids until your bedtime. Yours, not theirs:). Can you be fully present for 5 hours? I dare you… and I’m giving you time to prepare.
And yes, there is irony in an online plea to go offline. But if each of us were more present in our lives… what’s the worst that would happen? I’m going to journal about this and publish it in a few weeks when it’s done. I’ll let you know if in fact I could do it. I suspect I’ll survive, but I’ll let you know.
Monica Simpson lives on the East Side of Madison with her amazing Brit of a husband, Richard and their 5 kids under 9. She has her BA in theatre from Viterbo University and MBA from Edgewood College. In her spare time (HA!) she enjoys reading presidential biographies, writing, exploring her faith, those new adult coloring books and anything that tastes like coffee.