Thank goodness the Limited Screen Time tool card wasn’t two weeks ago during my boys Spring Break. I’m sure there are plenty of parents out there that can say “holy cow—that was a long week.” Recently I watched one of Oprah’s Next Chapter episodes where she did an interview with a group of Aventist Jewish women. One of the most interesting parts of the interview was when the women shared that there is no media, or any technology for that matter, in their homes. None of these women had ever seen the Oprah show—that in it-self was for me the most shocking. They went on to say that their children had never watched television before. Once again I was both shocked and fascinated at the same time. At that moment I took it upon myself to challenge my children and me to go without TV for one day.
The next day happened to be on a Tuesday when my oldest son is in school until 3:00 and my 3 ½-year old is home with me all day. My youngest son wasn’t fazed for a moment. He never noticed or cared. He’s always been easily entertained and completely self-sufficient. My oldest son on the other hand noticed five minutes after he walked in the door. His favorite thing to do after being at school all day is watching a show. I totally get it! After I’ve had a long day—especially after school or learning, I too just want to check out/tune out. I also feel more entitled and deserving of the reward of TV. Even though he was feeling angry, resentful, and didn’t understand it, I know he appreciated the quality time we spent together. It wasn’t until this day that I was reminded how much I depend on the TV to stimulate my children and therefore buy me some time to clean the house, do laundry, or have some computer time. I’m guilty of using the TV as my babysitter. Although I’ve always been mindful and very aware that TV isn’t good for kids, I would find myself justifying that the program they were watching was educational or that it was only for an hour. That TV-less Tuesday was an instant reminder that no T.V. meant stimulation from me. If I did attempt to leave the room as they played—I found that I was playing referee only minute’s later…ughhh!!! I thought several times to myself that day—at least they’re quiet and not fighting when the TV’s on. Bottom line—TV buys us time, which as parent’s, let’s face it, we all need!
My experience from that Tuesday was that my boys and I had a fun day, but at the end of the day we were all exhausted because of non-stop interaction. Although it forced us to be creative, it also made me grateful that I wasn’t completely opposed to TV. I’ve always believed that most things should be enjoyed with moderation. I was reminded that “limited screen time” is good for everyone. We spent more active and quality time together. To me “limited” means balanced instead of abstinence. I love having some time to myself while TV entertains the kids. I just have to remember to balance that time with plenty of active together time.