Screen-Free Week Reflections

Girls on the Run 5K Indiana

Well, did you survive Screen-Free Week? Or more importantly – did the kids survive?!

I’m happy to report that we not only survived, we thrived with less time on screens last week. Here are a few things that occupied our time instead of technology:

Monday: The kids came home from school and went right for the iPad, only to find it missing! Either they forgot it was the beginning of Screen-Free Week or they were hoping I’d forget! Eli and the neighbor got creative with a cardboard box:

Elena had to practice recorder for school. Instead of practicing for the requisite amount of time and moving on to screens, she spent time composing her own song on the recorder.

Tuesday: Eli got into the stash of leftover crafts from Kiwi Crate and made a boat, which turned into water play outside, which turned into a handful of kids using chalk on our driveway.

Kiwi Crate boat
Wednesday: More outdoor free play – did I mention the weather was amazing?

Thursday: We visited our local Children’s Museum for a grand opening of a new exhibit (which if you’re anywhere near Indianapolis you MUST go see Take Me There: China and the Terra Cotta Warriors).

Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Friday: Was Screen-Free Week catching on? The entire neighborhood was out after school! Kids were playing and adults were relaxing and chatting. What a perfect way to kick off the weekend.

Screen-Free Neighborhood

Saturday: Elena and I ran a 5K, and Eli had a soccer game in the morning. In the afternoon, Eli helped me with yardwork and Elena rode her penny board to Taco Bell. That evening she camped outside at a friend’s house. Mike spent the afternoon building a firepit in the backyard, and that evening we fired it up and invited the neighbors.

Bonfire

A few things that really helped make the week a success:

  • My neighbor also participated in Screen-Free Week, so always had at least one buddy that wasn’t choosing screens as an activity. Next year I think I will give all the neighbors on the cul-de-sac a heads-up that Screen-Free Week is coming up and see if we can get a bunch of us participating.
  • The weather was amazing all week. I realize how much harder you have to work to come up with fun alternatives to screens when you can’t go outside.
  • Out of sight, out of mind! Before the kids got home from school, I shut my laptop, closed the doors to the TV, and put away the iPad. It’s so simple, but it really does help.

A few observations:

  •  I noticed a big difference in the kids’ attitudes about play. My gut reaction is to let them have screen time right after school. I figure they’ve had a long day, and that will relax them. After observing an entire school week without screens, I realize it doesn’t relax them – it zones them out. Without screens, they have a snack and move on to something else. With screens, it can be very difficult to get them to transition from screens to outdoor play.
  • I didn’t realize how much time I spend on screens between the hours of 4 p.m. and bedtime. I often depend on that time to catch up on social media, browse Pinterest, or catch up on blogging. I’m not going to lie – I felt a little lost at first! But I found other ways to fill the time, and as an added bonus? I went to bed earlier each night.

So what’s the takeaway from Screen-Free Week? We could all stand to spend a significantly smaller amount of time on screens. It was just the restart we needed, and from here on out I’ll be making a concerted effort to limit the time we spend on screens in the afternoon and evenings.

How did Screen-Free Week go for you? Any surprises? Did you have any fun adventures you might have missed out on had you been occupied with screens? 

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  1. […] any kind of technology … both for kids and adults. And we know from our experiences during Screen-Free Week that even an hour a day with no screens does wonders for reconnecting with your […]