|Oh, the things we do when we're not online...|
I realize I use the computer to socialize. To escape. To rest. But there are other ways to communicate with friends and to relax. Like using a telephone or actually taking a nap. It's much more restful. Seriously. That said, naps were a struggle during our screen free week. It was hard not to plug L into the TV when she didn't want to sleep and I desperately needed a break and could hardly keep my eyes open.
But I'm glad I didn't turn the TV on for her. It was worth it. Even though L asked to watch programs periodically throughout the week, she was very happy playing. That was why she didn't want to nap. She wanted to play. She doesn't ask for TV as much now even though we've let her watch a little here and there this last week. When she watches it she doesn't get as upset when we turn it off. She gets bored more easily watching it. She would rather go outside, play a game, read a book.
During our screen free week she got out books she hadn't taken out in ages. She pulled puzzles and games out of her cupboard. She has just as crazy an imagination as ever.
Here's the top ten screen free activities we've been enjoying:
1. Reading books/Going to the library. We've been reading wonderful books about her most current obsessions--ballet and princesses. She's LOVING all the Angelina Ballerina books by Katharine Holabird (Angelina's Baby Sister is her most favorite big sister/little sister book yet). The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch has become a daily read (along with all the other stories in The Munchworks Grand Treasury). We also found books that combine ballet and princesses. L is a huge fan of the Ella Bella Ballerina series. Why watch Cinderella when you can read it a million times and look at all the pictures over and over again? Not only is reading good for the girls, it's good for me. I get to sit down, take a little break, and cuddle with my girls. Visiting the library is a fun outing for everyone. L loves to explore the shelves and grab books at random and say, "how about this one?"
2. Going to the park. Under any circumstances the park makes our day better. Fresh air and new scenery is amazing.
3. Going to the aquarium/museum/zoo. Again, getting out of the house and enjoying time together works wonders.
4. Playing with friends. Our house, their house, doesn't matter. Time for kids to play, time for moms to chat. It's a win, win situation.
5. Playing with play dough. We made a fresh batch of play dough and added glitter (or "sprinkles" as L calls it). Adding the glitter turned it into a whole new toy. Why watch Sleeping Beauty when you can create your own Sleeping Beauty (complete with Prince Phillip, "mean trees" (that's what L calls the thicket of thorns that grow up around the castle), dragon, and a sword to "poke the dragon in the tummy"). She was the artistic director and gave very specific instructions. I did my best to bring her vision to life. (See photo above).
6. Paper cutting station. L loves to cut paper. In order to cut down on the quantity of little tiny pieces of paper that are all. over. my. house. (and to discourage walking/running with scissors), I made her a cutting station in the window seat (although I can't take credit for the idea...a brilliant friend of mine suggested it). She has a place keep her scissors, strips of paper for cutting, a little bowl to put all the little cut pieces in, and a tray to contain it all. She loves it.
7. Practicing letters. L is really, really interested in writing lately. To take advantage of her current motivation we got a set of sand paper letters. Whenever she wants to use them she just has to ask and we practice tracing the letters. We're using a couple other Montessori techniques to encourage writing also but more on that later...
8. Listening to stories on CD. This is great. If I need to get something done on my own, L can listen to a story and I don't feel guilty the way I do plugging her into the television. She generally plays while she listens and is really enjoying listening to books/stories. We've also been listening in the car. Her current favorite is The Little Dragon by Jay O'Callahan and we just finished Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which the Oompa Loompas sing a fantastic song about the dangers of children watching television. Next on our list is Sparkle Stories.
9. Playing with toys/Free time. Several mornings I wondered what I would do with L while I was getting our stuff together for the day. We watched so much television while we were sick that I'd forgotten how content she can be just playing. She's very capable of entertaining herself. She loves to have time to do whatever she pleases. Her imagination never ceases to amaze me.
10. Helping cook/clean. When she has spent little or no time in front of the television, L is also more inclined to want to do whatever her dad or I are doing. Instead of whining to watch Dora she's very excited to help us in the kitchen or with folding laundry. She's so sweet about it.*
And that brings me to my favorite part of our screen free week. L is just in a better mood when she doesn't watch TV (except when she's soooo tired from not napping). She doesn't whine much. She's excited to be active. She content. She wants to engage with the people around her. She tells us she loves us every five seconds. She sings songs about how much she loves everything (including the imaginary gas station where she was filling her toy car up with grass) and how beautiful everything is.
Last night before when we sat down to dinner she stopped us after our first deep breath and said, "wait a minute guys, I have to tell you something. I love you sooooo much!" When we finished our breathes she said, "Oh, I feel so much better" (which is what I always say afterward).
I'm in a better mood too. I feel better. I get more done. I'm less stressed out. I'm more present in my day. I'm more connected with my family. I have more fun with the girls.
So, that's that. We are a happier family when we don't watch TV and when we spend less time on the computer. But it's hard. There are so many stupid little reasons I turn on the computer every day--to look up directions or a phone number or check our schedule or coordinate activities or to look up recipes. And then there is blogging.
Blogging is a big part of what keeps me at the computer more than necessary. I'm working very hard on forming new habits and routines and letting go if I can't finish what I'm working on in one sitting. For example, I've been working on this post for days because I've been trying to really hard to just shut it down if something else comes up instead of saying, "just a minute" twenty times and rushing to get it finished. It's okay that I didn't post it last Saturday. Life kept going. And right now I'm just going to post this post. It's not perfect. It could use more pictures. It definitely needs editing. But I'm not going to obsess over it and re-read it one hundred more times. It is what it is and I'm just going to let it go and move on with my day.
Consequently, my posts will probably be fewer and farther between for a while since my new routines include much computer time : )
How do you keep your computer time from taking over your day? How do you find moderation and balance with family and the internet and television?
*I realize this list is focused mainly on things for kids to do instead of watch TV. My list was much more boring: shower, eat, cook, dishes, laundry, read grown-up books, sleep...
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.