Normally I don’t freak out too much about screen time and the kids. I am a believer in all things in moderation and my kids have a good balance of outdoors play, extra curricular activities and play dates as well as some chill out time watching TV and iPads.
But two weeks ago the unthinkable happened at our house – our internet got disconnected. And with the loss of internet came no more TV. We’re a Netflix and YouTube tribe and haven’t bothered repairing our TV antenna for free to air access since we moved in so there that is.
What do we do now?
We were dreading the weekend looming dangerously close with no Internet. How ever would we survive? I thought when we told the kids we were in a very long queue of customers waiting to have their internet connected that they might turn on us and stage a coup. But actually, quite the opposite happened. Here’s some of the brilliance that came out of our pretty ordinary situation.
The kids wanted to be entertained
I had to really think on my toes. Every day they’d say what can we do? With no technology to turn to, I had to pull something out of thin air that would keep them happy and stop them from tearing the house down. That’s how ‘Mum School’ was born.
We gathered up all the medals and trophies we had in the house and we had competitions where the kids had to do a class at Mum School and the best effort got an award. It didn’t take long for this game to progress from dance routines and rolly polly competitions to other more useful tasks like who could be the best Mum helper.
My kids actually cleaned the house with me. Instead of me putting them in front of an iPad or TV while I cleaned, they came with me – cloths and vacuums in hand. And they loved it! So did I. And I actually felt a sense of satisfaction that they appreciate how much effort I put into keeping our home neat and tidy.
We flew through our school work
My oldest is in Year 1 so this is our first year where homework is the new norm. We pulled it out of her bag on Monday when it came home. There were no distractions in the house so we sat together and did spelling, perfected hand writing and did some maths homework. There was a week’s worth of homework there but she flew through it all in less than an hour. Then we moved onto her piano practice for the week. I felt like Super Mum and couldn’t stop telling her how amazing she was doing her work so quickly.
My little one is 3 and a half and she also wants to be part of the homework club. In the two weeks since we lost the Internet – she’s started learning how to do some hand writing herself. She’s working on her name which is blowing my mind because I didn’t realise she would be able to grip a pencil correctly and trace over the dotted lines. I feel slightly guilty my oldest didn’t get early exposure but hey – she is my benchmark kid and I’m still learning myself.
We’ve traded screen time for other activities
It’s pretty darned hot where we live (when we were overseas, someone we met told us we lived on the hottest place on Earth – 47 degree day apparently!). So going out in the afternoons is sometimes a terrible idea. But when weather permits, we have taken the opportunity to go for a nice little walk and stretch our legs. I told my personal trainer I’d drop some of his leaflets in letterboxes with the kids. They loved it – and I could test their number reading skills at every house we stopped at.
We have also become pretty friendly with our local library. We started going last year while my oldest was learning to read, but without the TV to fall back on, we’re heading straight from school to the library to borrow books and play literacy games on the computers.
We’ve been sleeping better
I kid you not – we don’t have our phones switched on in the bedroom at night before we go to bed. I’ve actually picked up a novel and almost finished reading it. My laptop had a layer of dust on it this morning when I went and found it to write this story. But I’ve been waking up with ease – in fact before my alarm has even gone off! I think I’m converted now – digital toys have to go to sleep before me from now on. And books are back on the menu.
So what’s the moral?
I feel after two weeks with far less screen time (okay – I confess, we have come to my folks house to binge on a bit of TV), but I’m really seeing the merits from cutting it from our daily schedules. I was telling some mums at dancing on Tuesday and one of them said “you might have to tell the kids the Internet got disconnected again once a week” and you know what – I think she’s onto something there.
Think your kids have too much screen time? Read on for more.