Discord to Harmony
I hope everyone is having a lovely start to the holiday season!
I'm excited that by the end of the week, I'll have some music to share that you can download for free!! Merry Christmas! :-D
For now though, I want to talk about how the word "simplify" is helping me in almost every area of my life, and I'll discuss a couple things specifically.
When I started this blog just a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was hoping to simplify my life, and that that word seems to hold a lot of significance for me of late. I have a long way to go, but I've been pretty consistent about applying the concept in my home, by minimizing the amount of possessions we own, and by simplifying my approach to my household duties.
These two things alone are having a HUGE impact on my state of mind and on how I spend my time. I'm happier and I feel more free to spend time with my family and working on my music. And being proactive (not procrastinating) means I enjoy being in my house. I don't want to escape into my phone nearly as much anymore, which gives me even more time for the important things in life. This change happened VERY quickly, and I urge you to try it if it sounds like something that could help you! Don't think, just start! SIMPLE!
Now, I'm ready to simplify my parenting in a way that works. More specifically, limits on screen time.
I have already talked about screen time quite extensively on Facebook, because it bothers me SO MUCH. It bothers me that I know my kids are on screens for too many hours most days. I know it affects them negatively because they are in a trance when it's on, and they get extremely irritable when it's time to turn it off, or if I don't let them turn it on in the first place. They're also irritable with each other if they can't agree on a show or don't want to take turns playing a video game.
Mostly it bothers me that screens are stealing precious time from our whole family. When I'm cooking, I like for the kids to spontaneously come into the kitchen to help, or to ask me a question, or just to be near me. I treasure that time with them. I love it when Ridley goes to the piano and makes up songs. I love to listen to Norah reading to Ridley, or overhear the funny things they come up with when they play together. I love to witness the loving relationship they share when there isn't an all-important screen distracting them. I love to play board games together. None of this stuff happens often enough in our house. When it does, it's bliss. Listening to my kids interacting cooperatively with each other is music to my ears. To me, it's what parenthood should be, and what a family home should feel like.
This shouldn't be so hard to cure. But for us, it's been nearly impossible to make lasting changes. It's hard to find a balance that works, and I VERY much dislike being the screen police!! It is not fun to keep track of how long each kid has been staring at the box of colored lights, and you know the second you make them turn it off and they snap out of zombie mode, they're not snapping back to their sweet selves, they're going straight to, like, werewolf. And they are staying a werewolf until the next time they get to turn on the box. It's exhausting, and not how I want to spend my parenting years.
We have tried lots of very elaborate charts and graphs with chores and stickers and timers and threats and punishments and it's all too complicated!!!! WE CANNOT STICK WITH COMPLICATED THINGS! We just can't.
I hereby decree that as of today, our children are allowed to have screens on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays!
I have been hesitant to do this in the past. Because honestly, this was MY personal hangup. I didn't want to set rules I might not be able to stick with. Until recently, I felt like I NEEDED Ridley to be distracted for a while every afternoon because if I wanted to work on music in the morning, I needed time later to clean the house! I also didn't want to tell Travis he can't let them have the TV on when he gets home from school exhausted and stressed and still having work to do and I'm not home.
But this needs to happen, no matter what. Ridley needs to learn to entertain himself, and I feel like I have time now to at least get him started with some kind of activity. Norah is very good at finding things to do, and maybe she'll get bored enough to do her homework without being reminded multiple times.
I know this will not be easy. We will probably have to remind them for many weeks that screens aren't allowed on Mondays through Thursdays, and we will be met with whining, but at least it won't be the kind of irrational wrath that comes from letting their brains atrophy for 2 hours straight almost every day of the week.
What I need is for things to be mentally simple. I need no brainer solutions. I need to be able to say yes or no without having to consider x, y, and z. It's Monday. No, you can't watch TV. Because it's Monday.
I am so looking forward to this. The most successful no-screen stint we did was about a year ago. We did at least two weeks with no screens at all for the kids, and Travis and I only used ours when they were in bed. It was hard, but we had some really great time together, and even the kids started to see that spending time together is much better than all four of us being in our own little worlds. It even felt like there were more hours in the day when we weren't wasting several of them!
So, wish us luck, and if you want a challenge that's extremely rewarding, try it along with us!
There's my silly boy!