Thursday, March 1, 2012

Did we survive our screen-free week?

YES! We more than survived...we THRIVED. :) Okay, so I ended up needing to check my e-mail more than once a day for business purposes and there was a day when I had a meeting to attend and Brighton was sick so I let the older kids watch a show with him while they babysat, but other than that, we did pretty darn good at not using any type of screen! And, per my last post, my kids just so rock! There was hardly any complaining, other than from the 3 year old, and everyone was able to maintain their awesome attitude all week.

We learned many things. My big boys spent hour upon hour drawing and writing (with actual pens and paper!) Fiona spent even more time than usual sitting at the piano and developing her musical talents. The two little girls played for hours on end in their room. I came up with new and innovative ideas to help entertain my poor, media obsessed pre-schooler who was concerned that maybe he could not survive without his beloved buddy, Diego. Brighton actually dealt with it pretty well when I would remind him that we weren't watching any shows for the week...there were only a few, brief fits before he found cool things to play with.

More than anything, I learned that MOM (yup, that's me...) spending too much time in front of the computer can lead to the following: impatience, frustration, and ultimately a less peaceful home. It's amazing how disconnecting myself from the screen and being available at all times makes such a difference! I found that, instead of going over to the computer for "just a few minutes" to check my e-mail or whatever, if I went and sat on the couch with no purpose in particular, suddenly sweet little children were clamoring to be by my side. :) Then older, bigger kids would follow my lead and just sit for a moment...which would lead to conversation amongst whomever was near. It was a truly beautiful testament to the value of being open and available! And what a confirming lesson in the reality that having any type of screen in front you means you are NOT open and, even though you may think you are, you are not really available to your children and to life in general.

So how have our lives changed since that week? My big boys are still spending hours every day drawing and writing (with actual pens and paper!) in addition to their drawing and writing on the computer. Now I have children who argue about their turn to play on the piano, instead of just arguing about the Ipad or computer. we added new arguing? Oh well, it's for a good cause, so I'm fine with it. :) More than anything, I learned how important it is for me as The Mom to not take the easy way out and not turn to the computer for a distraction here and there through out the day. When I find myself starting to head in that direction, I purposefully chose to turn away and engage in my actual life, as opposed to my virtual one....I choose my children and our relationship...I choose my inner peace...I choose to, for the most part, be a more active participant in reality and just "be" rather than trying to escape.

As an added bonus, I have learned that I use the words "really" and "just" way too often. Just from this post alone, I have deleted approximately 9 "just"'s...but really, I don't think you can just avoid their use...I really just like those words!

And, oh my heck, another bonus! I actually spelled the word "approximately" correctly all by myself with no spell check correcting neccessary!! As a hopelessly horrible speller, I really just feel good about that! :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I have some of the best kids on the planet!

Here is a picture of my awesome kids this one of a screen-free life. (Yes, most of them are holding some sort of reptile...)

Last night, when I announced that we would be embarking on a week with no t.v., computers, netflix or a screen of any kind I assumed there would be mumblings and grumblings. To my sheer joy and excitement, the first thing I heard was "yay!" One of my girls was happy there was not going to be any screen time! Then, one by one, other kids chimed in with "I guess that's a good idea" and "ya, that will be good for us" and similar sentiments!! They were all so mature and knew that from this experience we would grow as individuals and as a family and break some bad habits.

My kids are just the best kids on the planet! :) I am so grateful for their willing, positive attitudes! I am so thankful for how thankful they choose to be! :) This is going to be a great week!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A week with no internet, tv, video games, computer games or netflix...will we survive?

As a family, we are going to go without the use of the Internet, television, video and computer games or netflix for a whole week. We all know that less screen time is a good, healthy thing...but most of us don't regulate it for ourselves or our families as much as we should. It's just so darn easy to let kids sit in front of the t.v. or the computer to keep them's even easier for us Mom's to plop ourselves in front of either of those to escape our messy lives for a few minutes...or 20...
During the coming week, I we will allow ourselves about 10 minutes every morning to check our e-mail and I will be blogging, but that is where it ends. There are many reasons I feel we need this technology break, most of which I will blog about. Today, though, my thoughts are focused on one of the main reasons I, personally, need the break.
There are several things I just do not like about the Internet. First of all, it's so easy for people to find support and encouragement for things that should NOT be supported nor encouraged!! There are completely evil things for which people find resources for on the Internet which I will not go into here and for which I find it heinous that our society allows...but the pure anger and hatred that oozes out of me about such subjects is not pretty, so I will not go into further detail.
Oh wait just a minute...Brighton and Duncan are playing in (and possibly drinking) the doggy right back!
Okay, disaster averted! Back on topic...
The biggest issue I have with the Internet is the isolation it creates. This is counter-intuitive since most people go onto social networking sites, blogs and discussion forums in the hopes of providing themselves with a social outlet. It can be fun to post here, comment there, LOL here, follow there...but then, without much warning, a feeling of aloneness can overcome you. Interactions on the Internet are easy, mostly one-sided, and lack emotion for the most part. It becomes too easy to read between the lines and assume what a person *might* be saying, rather than taking their words at face value. The Internet creates the image of peoples lives that are mostly rosy and pretty, hardly showing the messiness and hardship of every day life. There is a certain type of perfection that is created through this 2-D experience that is hard to live up to...actually, it's probably impossible to live up to.
Even when people post or blog about the "realness" of their every day lives, I find myself thinking things like "ya, but with a home that looks like that, it's not really all that bad!" or "ya, but with a body like that, your life could never really be all that tough" or "ya, but with as much money as you have to be able to decorate your home perfectly, have your kids dressed to the 9's and afford to so many nice things for yourself, those crappy times of your day aren't nearly as crappy as the rest of us normal people experience!" Is this judgemental of me? Yes, I'll admit it is. And I think this is where the isolation of the Internet comes in.
You can't see the whole picture. You can't hear the tone in someones voice. You can't see the emotion flash in their eyes. You only get little glimpses here and there...and you realize, this is what other people are getting of you. When someone reads my status update or a recent blog post, they are seeing my words but not really seeing ME. People, myself included, are already so prone to making assumptions in real life, the singularity of the Internet presents a million more opportunities to fill in the blanks about someones life and the things they say, think, feel and do.
This fact bothers me to no end, and yet, I find myself falling prey to it over and over. I go through periods of time where I post on facebook, pin on pinterest, read blogs and peruse the Internet regularly only to have to back way off because of the isolating feelings I let it create in me...the feelings of inadequacy based solely on my view of others; how better they are at raising their children, homeschooling, keeping house, decorating, chatting, being fit and healthy, cooking, being funny, and...pathetically much more they are liked.
And maybe this post is just all me....maybe I am creating this isolation all by my own doing and my own perceptions and assumptions....but the pressures are so be perfect. To live the perfect life complete with trendily dressed, crusty-free kiddos wearing coordinating outfits in a super styl'n family photo; to have a model-home-esque decorator touch through out your home...all the decor made by yourself from ideas you found on-line, of course; to have the most smok'n hot bod that looks like a fit, athletic 17 year old with long, flowing locks; to have healthy meals prepared with trendy ingredients like quinoa, kale and greek yogurt; to be politically aware and involved; the list could on and on.
Don't get me wrong, I have gotten lots of wonderful, inspiring ideas from the Internet and have both forged new friendships and fortified existing relationships, for which I am truly grateful. The wonder and glory of Google has led me to new and valuable knowledge that I could not imagine living without. I love the ease of keeping in touch with loved ones, finding a recipe for dinner, and watching my favorite show all through the wonders of the Internet. But there comes a point when it's healthy to just back away and experience life without the easy insta-escape of the Internet....and experience how I truly feel about myself without the influence of the Internet and all the pressures to be "perfect." I'm looking forward to the things I will learn.
It's not going to be easy...without technology there is going to have to be a lot more family togetherness and involvement...the kind that takes actual energy and effort...the kind I used to shower my family with back in the "old days" when I stuck to my guns about very, very limited screen time. I'm looking forward to rediscovering the "old me" in the process. :)
So, sit back, get comfy and follow our journey over the next week as we rip our hair out in boredom er, I we forge new, healthier habits and relationships that don't involve screens.