Back in the 90’s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and there was no such thing as iPhones, iPads and Lord knows whatever else, The Knife made a little wager with Nicole and I. He bet us each a wad of cash if we gave up television for 1 year. As the story goes, Nicole and I did in fact ditch the boob tube for 365 days and were awarded $500 big ones and a bonus $100 if we both succeeded. Gotta love the big guy for throwing a little incentive our way in hopes to keep each other TV free and accountable. This bet landed us on the front page of the local paper, and the title read, “Boob Tube Bet Sends Dad To Bank.” I caught a lot of shit for that story as there were a gaggle of boys, some of whom I am still friends with to this day that enjoy reciting quotes from the article. I admit, talking about playing board games and discovering our old record player during the no TV interim made for some pretty good jokes from our peers. And, thanks to the writer, he did an extra special job of enhancing my awkwardness in picture as well as capturing myself and Nicole sounding like we could have been President and VP of the nerd herd. Well, these nerds not only blew their wad on brand new fancy ten speed bicycles, more importantly, we spent an entire year exploring our imaginations, creativity and living the life children used to live before technology and devices took over the minds and imaginations of young people.
Today, as a parent to 7 year old twins, the battle to reduce screen time is a daily effort, as I am continuously negotiating with my children. Negotiating being the key word here. I am so over it. Every minute with an iPad is an extra 10 with me arguing over when they are done, setting timers and discovering that what I thought was a round of Minecraft (which I love by the way) is YouTube videos and senseless bullshit that does nothing, and I mean nothing for their development as creative minded individuals. I AM DONE! I remember talking to my son’s teacher at parent teacher conferences and she and I would commiserate over our woes with the mother flipping iPads. She said it best when she described our kids’ devices as a “parent’s best friend, but also our worst enemy.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. After some deliberating over the possibility of losing my BFF for a bit, I weighed the pros and cons of my children being iPad-less for the summer and decided my 30 -60 minutes of daily peace because my kids were zoned out on their mind suckers was worth the breakup. It was official, I was going to ditch their devices for the summer. Now I just had to figure out how I was going to make them disappear. Apparently my desires were heard by the Gods, because the opportunity to make this a device free summer fell right into my lap. It was on like Donkey Kong!
Last week, Mia’s device took a crap. It was as frozen as her mind when she stares at it. I have no idea what is wrong with it and I know a trip to the Apple store is imminent. Shoot me, please. So, now I have two children, one with a working device, and a mom with zero time for bullshit. I had the mother of all a-ha moments. This was my chance. This was exactly the moment I was looking for to pull the greatest mom magic trick of all time. Abracadabra, mom is going make the iPads disappear. Time for an emergency shipment of Anderson iPads to the Apple store…IN CHINA!!! I told my children their devices had to be shipped to a far off land for some much needed repair. I was so sorry to inform them that the lead time on this process was going to be quite long as many people are experiencing some issues and although we weren’t going to have them for the summer, they will be sent back in September. It will be like Christmas all over again! They bought it hook line and sinker. Guess what? They have been device free for 3 days and it has been GLORIOUS!!!!
In the last 72 hours A LOT has changed. Just as I had suspected, the pros of a device free summer far outweigh the cons. And, although we are in the early stages of this experiment that was once the norm, I am optimistic, confident and hopeful this was the right move. This is going to be a good thing for everyone involved. I can already see the benefits from me making the decision to go for it. You all know how I love a good list. I have created a long list of what I have already seen and what I predict will be the positive benefits and changes around the house while my young and energetic womb-mates, I call Will and Mia explore the summer months with no other option than to find something else to do.
A list of things that happen when you go device free.
- Toys actually get played with. It is the strangest thing.
- The desire to go outside and troll the hood looking for other device free children becomes a priority.
- Now mom can channel her energy into teaching things like table manners and how to be a proper asshole.
- Conversations are abundant.
- When you pick up your offspring from summer camp, the first words out of their mouths are not, “can I play with my iPad” but instead “do you want to go for a bike ride?” Or, whatever happened to the words, “Hi mom!”
- Arguing over time spent on the iPad are a thing of the past. There is no fucking iPad.
- There is no longer a single beef about “Will being in my world!” Which by the way is the only thing about Minecraft that pisses me off.
- Suddenly, the imagination is flooded with ideas.
- I kid you not, I have not heard the words “I am bored” in 3 days. Prior to the device free era, I heard those words nearly every single day. I believe those words were a ploy to get me to break down and hand over the device. Not no mo honey!
- Bad habits like waking up and heading straight to the device are a thing of the past. How many days do they say it takes to break a bad habit? Done and done.
- Maybe, just maybe, a book will be picked up out of sheer curiosity. A mom can dream can’t she?
- There is a willingness to help out and be more involved.
- No more mental breakdowns when the time is up. None.
Here is the deal. I really hope this blog inspired you. I think we should start a movement. A movement to encourage children to play and pretend and get filthy dirty from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep. Just like when we were kids. Why? Because it’s necessary. We live in a society where children and adults (guilty as charged) are tuned into their phones and devices and completely missing out on life. No one says hello anymore. Organic conversations are rare. Today’s generation of children are socially inept. We are always writing about being present and living in the moment over here on the blog, yet, so many moments are lost and plain missed because of the technology addicted society we live in. Let’s do this! Let’s ditch the devices our kids are obsessed with. In 3 short days it has even encouraged me to hide my phone from myself because after all, I need to lead by example. I know that this will not only benefit our offspring, it will benefit us as parents. Join me in ditching our kids devices. I will be checking in and sharing about how life is going as we navigate summer device free. I would love to hear about your journey too! That is if you so choose to take the plunge with me. Let’s do it and as always, thanks for reading.
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