Earlier this month, we had a screen free week. No TV, computer, tablets, and the minimum phone usage possible. We don't allow our kids to watch too much TV to begin with, usually just Friday night movie and maybe 1 1/2 hours throughout the rest of the week (on a good week, of course!). My husband and I, however, watch something most nights, usually for 2+ hours, while we're checking our phones or playing on the iPad, and I notoriously check my phone during the day. We all know that taking a break can be a good thing. Let me tell you what I learned.
Things that changed:
- We played with our kids more.
- We talked to each other more, and the conversations were more meaningful.
- Our kids had to find ways to entertain themselves. They had to stretch and grow and be creative with their toys.
- My kids fought less.
- Our time together became quality time together.
- I became more aware of the people around me.
- My house was cleaner. I had the energy to do what needed to be done.
- I yelled less.
- I was more patient with everyone.
- Our days went smoother. My kids were less resistant when I asked them to do things. Chores were less of a battle.
- Life felt less "noisy." There was no constant pull toward social media or barrage of images and distractions from a screen. My brain had time to breathe.
- My days were much more productive. My time for myself comes at the end of the day, when the kids are in bed. I actually accomplished many of the things I set out to do because I wasn't distracted by a screen.
- We went to bed earlier. It's a lot easier to feel tired at 10:30 when you're actually doing things instead of vegging out until 1 in the morning.
- My husband and I "dated" more. We played games, laughed, read next to each other, cuddled more; things that usually got put on the back burner for weeks because we were watching TV instead.
Things I learned:
- It is SO easy to grab that screen and zone out.
- Our loved ones miss us when we disappear behind a screen. They are much more aware of it than we give them credit for.
- Sometimes it is difficult to actually talk to someone. It takes courage and thought and a desire to actually know the person, especially when you don't get to jump to a screen when things get awkward or the conversation lulls.
- I was more content with my life. I wasn't constantly looking at others' perfect Instagram pictures or Facebook posts, comparing my life to theirs. I was finding happiness right where I was.
- It is so, so worth it. Relationships became much more meaningful and fulfilling.
Now, this didn't create a revolution where we're going to sell our TV or switch to flip phones or put our phones in a DistractaGone when we're home. But it did cause me to reflect on how often I ignore the world around me for a screen. Most people cannot go completely screen free, and there is nothing wrong with checking social media or watching TV. But, we can be much more selective of the time we spend with our screens. If you really want to show the people around you how much you care about them, give them your time. Put the phone away, turn the TV off, and focus on the people around you. I promise they will appreciate it. The power of sincere interaction is amazing.