Going Electronics Free


Arden lost in her own little world

I mentioned last week that we've eliminated TV and the iPad for the kids for the last 5 months.  I had some questions from people that I thought I could answer.  I want to mention, like I did in my instastory, that I would've eye rolled me so hard in the past.  I don't want anyone to feel guilty about what they are doing...if something is working for you, then keep it up.  Or if you're in the trenches of life and you're just surviving, keep doing that too.  This is a judgement free zone!! BUT, if you've thought about getting rid of electronics, I just wanted to share that it's possible!

Adam and I found that the TV and the iPad were causing so many problems in our house. Constant fighting about whose turn it was to play on the iPad or pick a show to watch.  And then they just seemed so grumpy and zoned out when they were done with it.  It also seemed to consume their thoughts...they were always asking to watch a show (or 2 or 4) from morning until evening, even though they knew that wasn't a possibility.  So we decided to make a change!

Here are some answers to questions people have messaged me about:

How did you get rid of the TV/iPad?

Cold turkey!  I hid the iPad (truth be told, I don't actually know where I hid it...oops) and made a new rule that we wouldn't be watching the TV.  You may have to unplug the TV or hide the remotes if your kids need that!  Don't be afraid...just try it!  I know it seems like it's impossible...I remember that thinking a week without electronics just wouldn't be doable.  And there were probably times when it wouldn't have been something I could've started.  There are seasons for everything!  But it wasn't as hard as I thought and I only see the benefits now.

How long did it take for them to get used to it?

I'd say it probably took about 2 weeks for them to stop asking about electronics.  And now that it's been several months, it's extremely rare that they do ask.  Instead they just PLAY!  It's amazing.

Has it created more work for you? Are you constantly entertaining them?

No, it hasn't created any more work for me!  I'll of course read books or play games, but for the large majority of the time, it's all self-directed play.  If you feel like your kids can't do that, I've found the more they do it, the easier and more natural it becomes for them to play on their own.  You may have to ease them into it...create some loosely structured activities and then slowly pull yourself away.  I still enjoy watching them play, engaging with them or narrating what's happening, but I try to let their play, be their play, without any adult ideas or sanctions on it.  They are definitely to the point that I can fold laundry, or do the dishes or sneak in a little work if necessary and they know how to occupy themselves!

The toddler years can be tricky for independent play.  I love this article and this article from Janet Lansbury on how to encourage children to learn to play on their own.

So no TV ever?

We aren't 100% electronics free...we now do family movie nights!  About once a week, we sit down together and pick out a movie we want to watch.  It's turned the whole experience into a fun, bonding time. On some nights, I insist that they help fold laundry if they'd like to earn a movie night.  And they somehow happily comply.  So we all sit with a pile of laundry and fold...even my 3 year old!  We did watch a season of Master Chef Jr. this summer, but again, it was only when we all sat down together and folded laundry, so it was a family experience as opposed to mindless watching.

I can't say that by some miracle, all fighting in my house has ceased.  I wish!!  BUT, that particular stress and source of contention is GONE.  I feel happier and I like to think that they do too!  And the amount of play that happens without the TV/iPad as a crutch is amazing to watch. I can't say this is forever, but I do think we'll continue it as long as possible!

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