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I am a horrible mother. At least that’s the phrase that reverberates
in my brain when I think about the amount of time my daughter spends on
technology. OK, I guess I am not THAT horrible, since I am mindful of this sad
fact and that I care. I would be a far more sucky caregiver if I didn’t notice
or if I just didn’t mind.
But here is the thing, I work full-time from our home, either
writing on the couch, at my makeshift office in the dining room or in our
little breakfast nook. When I’m on a deadline or super busy crafting my newest
blogging masterpiece (insert snicker here), I need to embrace a thing called
focus, which is hard to do when my daughter is home with me. In those times, I have to make a myriad of
suggestions to keep her busy. Draw! Craft! Get started on your letter to Santa
Claus even though it's spring! Clean your room! Count clouds! She counters my suggestions with
begging to use the iPad, the computer or to watch a cartoon. And you know
what? Eight out of 10 times I give in.
I realized I had to do something to break this cycle that was leading to screen addiction.
While keeping the kid preoccupied
with these devices may be a quick fix for Mama, I have started to see side effects and they're not pretty. She was grouchy,
tired and listless as she became way
too dependent on technology. I started to freak out. What if she became a couch
potato? What if her imagination was stunted? What if she hurt her
eyesight? So. Many. Fears. Like a parent needs more of those, right?
I realized I had to do something to break this cycle that
was leading to screen addiction. After picking up my 8-year-old from
school, I broke the news to her: We would be doing a tech-free week. I was
hoping that she would be excited for the challenge. To embrace this experiment!
To hug me and tell me I was the best mom in the world for caring! But no, she
pouted. She pouted a whole lot. She started to panic. But I was undeterred.
Welcome to our weeklong technology detox. See what we did
without the use of screens, how both of us survived and how I learned that what
my daughter really needs is more books, crafts and the great outdoors — a REAL
life, not a virtual one.
Dinner: She made us dinner. YES, DINNER. Chicken meatballs with yogurt sauce in pita bread. And yes, it was delicious.
Gardening: My girl picked out and planted zucchini in the
garden. Now she’ll just have to learn some patience in waiting for it to grow.
Reading: In the week we went “no tech,” she read three
books. And she loved them all.
Comics: But it wasn’t all chapter books, she also got old school with some "Archie."
Hiking: In lieu of playing on the Xbox, we went for a hike. There is nothing
like the great outdoors!
Perler Beads: She got all creative using Perler beads, that was the upside.
The downside, I am STILL finding beads strewn around the house.
Scooting: We dusted off her scooter and took several rides
around the neighborhood. She even came up with a couple new daring tricks.
Games: Instead of sitting on the couch in the
evening and watching a cartoon, we played games — so, so, so many games.
Sidewalk art: She got in touch with her inner street artist by decorating the
driveway. But, yes, it was a character from a TV show ("Gravity Falls"). You can
turn off the TV but the memories are still there.