I thought it was a good idea.
It seemed to be so, anyway. As I walked down the sidewalk, in the beginning, I felt proud of myself for the suggestion. This wasn’t just a good idea – it was a great one.
Those happy thoughts lasted all of thirty seconds.
It was a beautiful evening yesterday. It was the kind of Florida evening that we live for down here in the sunshine state. Now that the heat has broken, we are blessed with that perfect, 70 degree air that bathes the skin in delight.
After an afternoon spent relaxing, baby napping, kids playing their electronics, I felt that it was time for everyone to get outside and breathe in the perfect night. So I suggested a walk.
“We need to get out,” I told the family as everyone pushed their feet into flip flops. I plopped the baby into her stroller, and Lee and I together walked down the sidewalk, and I thought this was such a good thing to suggest. We were together, as a family, enjoying a beautiful Florida evening.
What could go wrong?
By the time we finally rolled back into the driveway, I sincerely regretted suggesting the walk. The children fought and bickered the whole time. They hung on Lee and I, tripping us constantly. Nothing about it was relaxing…or really even remotely fun.
I was frustrated.
As we entered the house, everyone made a beeline for their respective electronics again. Sloan grabbed his phone, Landon grabbed my phone, and Tia grabbed my computer. Before I could even get my shoes off, they were back in their solitary corners, eyes alit by the glow of the screens.
With a huff, I demanded all electronics be turned off for the duration of the evening. “This is ridiculous!” I cried, and everyone sort of laughed at me because they thought I was joking. But I was serious.
Part of me wanted to just throw my hands up and say, “Screw it!” Because, honestly, the most pleasant, relaxing moments of my days are when they’re all occupied with their screens. It’s just so easy to let them sink into the games, and the videos. Screen time drastically reduces arguing.
But it also drastically reduces imagination, bonding, interaction, and basic togetherness.
Sometimes I feel completely oppressed by electronics. I feel like I’m in a war zone. I’m charging up the banks of Normandy with a water gun in my hand.
I’m losing the battle.
And I’m not innocent in the matter. I’m as drawn to the screen as the rest of my people. It’s always there, begging me to pop it open, to check the news, Facebook, Instagram, email.
Everything is waiting for me, and it’s so easy to get pulled in. No wonder the children enjoy it so much. It requires so little of them. And it requires so little of me.
As moms, we’re constantly told to pick and choose our battles. Know when to fight, and know when to let things go. This maintains a healthy balance inside the home, and I fully and wholeheartedly embrace that wisdom.
But the fight against electronics is not one I want to lose.
We simply must teach our children the art of balance. In a world that’s growing increasingly more isolated, despite the many, many ways to remain connected, it’s not worth it to me to throw in the towel. It’s a battle worth fighting, even on the days when I don’t feel like fighting it.
But it’s hard, this battle we’re fighting as parents. And maybe you feel beaten down by it all like I do. Can I offer a challenge?
Put the screens away.
How will this look for your family?
A couple of years ago, Lee and I instituted ‘No TV during the school week’. It’s a good rule. It eliminates at least one temptation daily. But sometimes (most of the time?) I feel like it’s not enough. Because the PlayStation, the iPhones, the computer – they’re all there waiting for little eyes to latch on.
So what will we do?
I’m not sure yet. I’m chewing on it. But as we head into the Christmas season, I do know that I’m feeling so battle weary. We could all use a break from the war. Perhaps, we could even learn to be in the same room together joyfully, without electronics occupying us.
Because I’m tired of being alone together with my family.
How do you combat in the electronic battle? What rules do you have in place to keep your family from being overrun by screens? I’m up for suggestions!