The Screen Free Day – Apparently I Survived

We went screen free for 24 hours. There were a few tricks, some treats AND MY HUSBAND THINKS WE SHOULD DO THEM EVERY SATURDAY!!! No cell phones, no computer, no TV.  

This was honestly hardest for me. I never realized how regularly I bop onto the internet. I think my kids were weirded out by the attention.  

Here’s our journey…

Leading up to the big day, we had a kid with pneumonia and hubby was away on business. LOTS of screen time that week.  You know the drill… to distract from fever, to give yourself time to disinfect the house, to give yourself time to cry. I announced our screen free intention to the kids on Friday night – the night before. They thought it sounded weird; I think they didn’t believe me.  

There were a few excuses rearing their heads already: a possible trip to urgent care on Saturday and my brother’s college basketball tournament streaming on the internet. But I made my resolve to stand firm. There is ALWAYS going to be something.  

5:15 My eyes were open. Itching to check the news, People.com, citymom blog, email, texts. My brother had a game the night before but I knew if I checked the score it would be a  slippery slope. Of course I could call him but I don’t know his phone number?!?!

So I made coffee and read on the couch.

6:45 Kids were up and laying on the couch with us. We all snuggled together WHICH NEVER HAPPENS. There are 5 of them and most are boys. I repeat, this never happens without TV. Saturday is cartoon morning. Like candy, their minds devour them and then they feel a bit sick. Hey, its tradition and they don’t get much during the week.  

Made breakfast and began the day without incident. I have to admit there were fewer intense arguments than normal. Squabbles, yes, but there was a noticeable difference.

This is where hubby cheated. His favorite soccer team was playing so he used bathroom breaks to check the score. Kids didn’t notice and he was discreet. Soccer/football, Ok, I accept.

Went out on errands. I did take the phone as we had to take sick kid to urgent care if his fever did come back. I had some pretty specific things on my list. Yes, I was alone and could have checked without taking time away from family. But I didn’t. Finished everything in an hour and a half. My fingers were itching and my eyes were twitching but I was on a roll.

Came home and went off to urgent care, phone in tow. Brief cheat to click a photo of his extensive med chart with dosage times. There’s no way I can remember that as I run out the door.

Came home, at lunch and jotted down who to connect with tomorrow: brother re basketball tourney, cousin re Super Bowl plans (sick kid = cancel), retreat babysitters, Ineedtowritephonenumbersdownsomewhere! The weirdness came after lunch too, when I was left with the glorious naptime hour and no Netflix or internet in sight. Rest time did end earlier that day with hubby and I getting the kids up to play a board game. Again, there are five of them. We never get the kids up! But it was so pleasant.

That afternoon, just like the morning, brought less intense arguments. As I planned supper I dearly missed the ability to search things like, “can I bake potatoes in the microwave” and “easy mashed potatoes.” Fortunately I have a cookbook of the paper persuasion. And it turned out the potatoes were rotten so we pasta’d instead.  

Four o’clock is TV time so mom and dad can make dinner. Didn’t happen on Saturday. Four-year-old was running circles. We survived, but all five were super antsy by 4:40. All were more than ready for dinner by 5 though. Normally, TV ends and dinner starts and we drag our way to the table. Not tonight. No fuss/no fight.  

Bummer of the night was when a dear friend called to let me know her mom had passed away. I knew she was sick and could have had another friend let me know if anything happened – this will take some prep next time. We had a good conversation about it though.  

Bedtime came and went and my hubby and I were now on the couch staring at each other. We talked for a bit (giving up our Netflix time,) then fell asleep at 8:30, even eschewing a Carcasone game.

5:15 on Sunday I was at my computer. Two relevant but not urgent emails. The rest junk emails. Not much had changed in the world. Huh, I thought I’d miss more.

CONCLUSION? I totally and wholeheartedly recommend a screen free day. I missed the affirmative things about having online connections, but its nothing I cannot replicate IRL. Rule is no screens at all with several caveats:

-Have a list of regular contact’s phone numbers somewhere you can find it

-Day before make a list of a few people you may need to call and affirm – there’s nothing like getting a positive text, right?  You can do the same with a phone

-Mentally note extenuating reasons for someone to need to contact you and let others know you will be offline.

-Don’t cheat – you can do it!

-Hubby gladly accepted the challenge when I gave him the soccer exception.

-Maybe a hike or some activity during pre-dinner TV time

I’m super excited for this Saturday’s screen-free day. Not excited enough to toss my phone for good or block people.com (Beyonce is having twins!!!!) But it’s a change that is going to stick.


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.

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