30 Minutes 30 Days of Screen Time

30 minutes 30 days… …

 

Sounds like a work out routine…a marketing idea… an effective and simple way to reach a goal.

Let’s hope so…

The Story

We all know the statistics and the research, as parents we have seen it a thousand times. And with the huge increase in Ipad’s, tablets, flat screens, blue-ray, smart phones…. our kids have technology at their finger tips and we have a sure-fire way to get some work done…and some piece and quiet.

If your kids are like mine, and they argue and fight on the regular, “watching shows” and “playing games on the Ipad/Daddy’s phone” are life-savers… and just.plain.AWESOME.

This is the big part for me…. THEY LOVE WATCHING SHOWS AND PLAYING GAMES ON THE IPAD…. And I loved watching TV as a kid… and being able to navigate technology and learning from strategic thinking games is a plus in my book. And kid shows these days are EDUCATIONAL! They learn so many things from shows they love to watch. As a parent, this fills my soul with pure joy. 

“They didn’t have shows like this when I was a kid!” There are times I make my kids watch The Backyardigans… Can I get an adorable and positive music number anyone?…

So I am on board for my kids embracing all the different stories and characters and adventures all these shows and movies have to offer…

But I have read the research over and over, that kids over the age of 2 should only watch 1-2 hours of tv/day, if that….

Writers and researchers present over and over again that “screen time” affects our childrens’ brains… in a negative way. Even the educational shows… because kids need to be active, hands on and have social interaction.

The Brain –side note on the brain here… we know that our brains are much more malleable than previously thought, even as adults. We have the ability, through repetitive thought and meditation, to change the neuropathways of our brains…. we can literally make our brains better able to handle stress, be positive…and be happy…and healthier!

So, I am not saying that this is important to me just because research says it affects kids’ brains in a bad way. It’s important to look at every influence of our kids and how our words, actions and energy are imprinting in their minds….AND, I know that our kids have the ability to better their minds and reverse negative patterns over time.

A big Influencer for Me: Research says over use of screen time can lead to aggressive behavior…I don’t know about your house but if my kids have been watching shows, even with a warning, they get so cranky when we turn it off.

And remember that article that went around social media…the one where it said Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids use Ipads and tablets and limited their screen time, if they had any?

In the words of my 4-year-old, Theo, “What the heck?”

Every time I read articles that tell me I need to limit the amount of time my kids watch shows, I have to wonder, “Why does it have to be about the screen time? Why can’t it be about all the other moments you have with your kids and what

those minutes look like?

The Real Story

So, add everything I just wrote about above…

And throw in some emotional healing therapy 

Sprinkled with some being present with my feelings…

I found myself in an emotionally charged situation…. we were rushing out the door, barely making it to a family improv activity downtown…in the snow… which we didn’t make it to anyhow because it was downtown…we were late…and the weather was bad but I thought it’d be a good idea and the kids wanted to go….

So I have been making an effort to be present with my feelings and instead of reacting and yelling and trying to control my external, I go inward and do that work…

In these moments, I had plenty of reason to go external…

and plenty of reasons to go internal…

I turned from the oftentimes habitual act of yelling at my kids to just.plain.sobbing

It all hit me at once and I admitted how overwhelmed…frustrated…unappreciated and sad I felt.

Then I said/cried this: I just don’t want my kids to watch tv because it’s bad for them.

So….I am a believer that when we get real with ourselves, and be present with ourselves…and allow ourselves to speak what is inside…we can tend to say some pretty weird stuff…..

But we must give attention to these insights.

So after I sat in my pain…I was willing to release it and move through it…

And it’s not that the crying is because of the television…screen time means more than just the shows…it’s about our relationship with one another and our attachment to things. It’s about my ability and opportunity to be present for my kids and have sustained energy that allows me to be joyous, fun, creative, loving, willing, open, and act from a place of abundance.

As the day continued, as we all grew a little closer to ourselves….and to one another.

A few days ago, it just hit me all of a sudden…after reading an article by a writer of minimalism practices…I realized that I might actually be more available through time and energy by minimalizing screen time in a positive way.

How it works

To create the boundaries of this practice, I must allow the foundation to be the guide. Here is the foundation and how I explain it to myself and my kids:
“Doctors and researchers on the subject say that it’s important for kids to watch shows for a short amount of time because it affects their brain. And on school days, we literally do not have the time for tv because we have activities, homework, dinner, bath time and anything else we want to do/play with friends/ free time play makes for a full schedule before bedtime.”
For Theo, during the day, it would work like this:
-30 minutes of screen time in the morning
-30 minutes of screen time after lunch
On the three days he goes to am preschool, we do just the 30 minutes after lunch.
Charlie did NOT like the fact that Theo got to watch shows while she had to go to school.
So I explained…
“I make this offering to him because when I am home with him, I am responsible for him all day. I need time to do work from my computer, read, take care of the baby, or maybe catch a little bit of Ellen or whatever show I may want to put on for that time. (We are also implementing the screen time for Sean and I, which I think is a big key here).
It’s important to me to have that time where I give him something he wants, which allows space for feeling free, for all of us.”
Charlie asked if we could implement Friday night as Movie Night. This, I agreed to, and we seemed to really work through this one in a positive way.

How it’s working so far

We are on Day 3….
I will say…
I didn’t realize how much tension I personally have over the Ipad/tablet dance.
I realized I spent so much of my time, intuitively knowing that there was a better way, and every activity I would do with Theo, would be me, in my mind, forcing a distraction that would prove to be better than a show or game.
Then I would feel defeated when he would ask to watch a show, I would get frustrated because it felt like all my kids want to do is watch shows and the mindfulness I was cultivating felt meaningless.
Why did I feel this way, you ask? I have no idea! Our minds play tricks on us all the time, and unless we get to the root of it, we can think one thing and mean another… or think one thing and mean your mother…
The big difference
 
I didn’t know what this would be like…
I figured, pretty much how I look at a lot of things, I’d just see how it goes…
And what is happening, is once I took it off the table…
 
It freed up this energy.
Energy I didn’t even know I had!
And Theo is totally cool with it!
He is all like, “Ok, Mom, let’s do 30 minutes of technology now.”
I set the timer and he is all good when it goes off!
And…brace yourself…. I even felt motivated to do activities on Pinterest…
This from the woman who doesn’t have the desire to make all that much stuff because I think kids can be creative on their own…but something came over me…and this happened:
 
Purpose: Match up the upper case letters with the lower case letters
Items needed:
-Cars
-Floor
-Duct tape
-Coffee
It took me about 20 minutes to make it…and played with it for about 5.
BUT! When Charlie got home, and our neighbor kids came over, it was a big hit.
Now, I still use the computer during the day because I share with Theo that it’s work I am doing. And if I am on my cell phone, I am literally reading articles and I share what I am doing with him. I told him I am taking a picture for my blog and I show him the pictures. So, I am intentionally including them in what I am doing.
I asked Theo if he wanted to see the pictures of him that I uploaded and he said, “No,” and is now building a puzzle.

Discipline and Screen Time

The duality of this universe is what makes it…what it is.
A personal duality of mine is what I think parenting looks like and what my intuition wants.
I think I should discipline my kids because they need to learn consequences.
My intuition tells me that natural consequences foster a relationship of trust and non resentment. I don’t like being told what to do either.
Conscious parenting and the work of authors like Dr. Shefali validate this intuition and hold the practice that natural consequences teach much more than any form of enforced consequence can.
We learn to drive a car through practice, not by someone punishing us for not using our turn signal and taking our car away for a week. We may not want to make that mistake again so we practice diligently, but our creative and intuitive force is driven and flourished through our experience and intuition, not through fear of punishment.
So, what I love about this (so far!) is that this isn’t a punishment, although it may have felt like one at first for Charlie. This is a way for us to create….and to thrive, rather than just survive!
This meets my need of feeling freedom and energy and as a result, it gives them the same thing.

 

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