Saturday, February 07, 2009


We have survived another snow day and a sick day and a lot of bitterly cold, icy weather since my last post. It has been a long week and a half. Making it longer has been the fact that we have now instituted a screen time only on weekends rule.

We have gradually, over the last two years, become more and more lenient with our screen time allowance for the kids. Until Luke was five years old he was only allowed about a half hour of screen time a day, computer or videos or PBS. Then, on the weekends, he could watch a longer movie if he liked. Once we moved away from Hyde Park I started getting a lot more lenient. Part of it was that we had just moved and neither the kids nor I had any friends. Part of it was that we had moved into a more conventional community—and I wasn’t sending Luke to a media-shunning Waldorf school any more—and so I didn’t feel so conspicuous allowing more screen time into our lives.

But a half hour on weekdays has become an hour, and a movie on the weekends has become several. The kids have been whining for more and more screen time. Sometimes they ask to get on the computer or watch a video first thing in the morning. And you know what? Even though it is nice to have the kids occupied while they watch, they are always out of sorts when we turn it off. They are surly and demanding of my attention.

So we sat them down on Sunday and told them no more screen time on weekdays. And, surprisingly, they didn’t whine much. And now we have completed one media-free four-day stretch, and it has been wonderful. We have been doing things that we haven’t done in a long time. We’ve pulled out puzzles that haven’t seen the light of day in at least a year. We’ve made a lot of very fashionable shrinky-dink jewelry. We have played every board game on the shelf. We biked through the snow.

And yes, I have had to work a little more to keep them occupied, but once they are in the groove, they are playing by themselves pretty well. And last night at the beginning of the weekend, we borrowed Home Alone from the library (which was marginally inappropriate, I thought, with the swearing and the fake shooting and all, but oh well) and we made nachos and popcorn and enjoyed ourselves immensely. There is nothing like laughing at slapstick comedy with little boys.


Cary Milkweed said...

That sounds like an awesome rule, Ser, and I'm so glad it's working out! I loved reading about Luke and Henry have been entertaining themselves otherwise. I'm going to file this way for the future, when Eva is glued to the screen(s).

paige maddex said...

More power to you - doing it in the winter can be tough! But it's true - it has a way of growing in importance and frequency. Your post reminds me of this fact and encourages me to cut back on screen stuff, despite the season.

Also, inappropriate or not, Home Alone is my sweet 2 year old Jane's favorite movie. She just can't get enough of "Kebin" Oh, that McCully Culken, he's so silly.

Becky said...

I agree with you 100%. I have also let the screen time take over because I am exhausted and its so easy.

My son LOVES home alone. We are sure to point out the inappropriate behaviors and think of what Kevin (and others) should have said. And ya gotta love the skip button for the shooting part. ;-)

Molly Sabourin said...

Good for you, Ser! And I appreciate that you also use the term "screen time." I thought we Sabourins were the first to coin such a generic phrase, covering ALL television programs, websites and gaming systems, but apparently not. Great...I mean genius mothering minds must think alike! :)

so yung wilson said...

I just had a screen time intensive Saturday myself. I think I watched 4 movies and gave myself a migraine. Definitely made me out of sorts.

I wonder too if having restricted time with something makes it more special and fun when one does get to do it: like playing with toys at a friends house.

I wonder if I could schedule weekend only screen time? Wonder if my boss would be down with that.