We caught the flu. All FIVE of us caught the flu. At the same time. Oh, friends, it was awful, and we literally let the TV be our babysitter for a week. And, how very thankful I was for that trusty TV during that week.
After the week was over, though, and we were finally feeling able to function as human beings, our kids were in such a rhythm of asking us to watch shows and play games on our phones that I decided we needed to detox. And so, our no-screen challenge began.
As scared as I was to give it a try, it was actually AWESOME! I saw so many fun things in my kids and am changing how we interact with screens moving forward because of it. Here’s what we learned.
1. My kids found way more creative things to do when screens were not an option.
You guys! Kids are so creative. I was amazed at the things my kids found to do with their time. They created a whole daycare in our living room with their dolls one day, spent hours decorating cookies, became puzzle masters . . . the list goes on. And here’s the thing – I am no super mom. I hardly had to do anything to keep them engaged. For the majority of the time, they found their own fun. All I had to do was redirect them when things started to go downhill (but that’s just a regular part of life with 3 kids, five and under, right?). And of course, bring my “babies” to the lovely daycare they created 🙂
2. My kids learned to be nice to each other.
This one totally surprised me. I thought that no screens would have them at each other’s throats. And granted, my 3-year-old still LOVES to push his sister’s buttons any chance he can find. But, I have been shocked to hear them playing so well together and being so kind to each other. I mean, the change has been dramatic.
3. They learned to clean up their toys.
Yes, please! If there is a way to get my kids to learn how to clean up their toys, please sign me up right now! I have tried everything and it just never seems to work. But turning off the screens really helped us keep things cleaner. At first, I focused on reminding them to clean up one thing before they took out the next because I knew things would get out of control fast if they didn’t. And within a few days, they miraculously stopped complaining about it and started doing it on their own. As a bonus today, my 5-year-old even put a new trash bag in our trash can without being prompted just because she noticed it needed one. Glorious!
4. There were certain times and spaces where I really missed the screens.
Ok, taking a 3-year-old boy to watch his sister’s ballet class and trying to keep him quiet and entertained without screens while also taking care of an 8-month old baby was NOT my favorite. Yes, we learned some lessons, and he ultimately found some fun and creative things to do. But I’m pretty sure I’m not going to try that one again. Enough said.
5. Overall, life with no screens actually made life easier.
Aside from that very unenjoyable ballet class, I was so surprised by how much easier life was with no screens. We played together, we did chores together, and my kids played beautifully on their own while I worked. And more importantly, I love the long-term effects that are coming out of it – my kids are becoming more sensitive toward each other and more aware of each other’s needs. They are becoming great helpers, and their creativity feels like it’s growing by the hour.
If you haven’t tried cutting back on screen time before, I highly recommend it. You will love what you see in your kiddos!