Today Jaxon and I are a little under the weather. We need to rest up for our upcoming beach trip so I declared today is a lazy day. Both kids are sitting in front of the TV and they are probably going to stay there. I don’t let that happen very often, not without a fight anyway.
I HATE having a TV in our living room. I easily become enraged and flip the damn thing off on a whim. I don’t care who is sitting in front of the thing or what they happen to be watching. When I see my family staring at the irritating talking box I see two things laziness and failure to thrive. I know this sounds dramatic but hear me out.
As a parent of two school age boys, it is my job to foster age appropriate skills in a safe environment so my kids can live happy fulfilled lives knowing they can take care of themselves. When they are being entertained by a screen, like now, they are opting out of participating in family life and life in general. I do let them chill with their friends on Minecraft for a good amount of time but it is my job to find a good balance between the two worlds. They don’t make it easy and I sometimes get lazy myself.
The real problem with the screen
As my kids are on our couch, they are in front of a beautiful bay window, surrounded by books, people and nature. They can be gardening, reading, learning to cook or even taking a walk. They live in a day and age where we can learn to do anything just by asking Google and logging onto YouTube yet they watch hours of nonsense.
I recently asked a health professional what the new standard was for screen time. I was hoping that he would give me a hard and fast rule. He gave me different advice. He told me to not focus on “screen time” but rather what I should be replacing it with. What else could we do as a family?
It occurred to me that we needed to engage more as a family but many adults around them are addicted to phones and their friends are immersed in this new digital culture. Technology is everywhere, in every room of the house and at school so it shouldn’t be surprising that we have lost touch connecting with each other.
On the flip side, one of the hardest parts of being a parent to school-aged kids is learning that it is not your job to make sure they are entertained all the time. Sometimes they need to be bored for a while. Sure, they will wine and complain but stick it out and give them some ideas if need be. There is a whole world to discover if they choose to lay in the hall and cry maybe that is what they need to do that day. Anyway, I don’t have time to sit at the park all day every day.
Being a part of the problem
My husband and I are just as addicted to technology as our kids. We all are so used to being entertained that we have lost a sense of family and community. I fought my family for years before I eventually gave in and let the TV in the living room because I couldn’t stand the thought of cooking dinner, folding laundry and cleaning up around my family as they ate on the couch. But I was missing the bigger picture.
I made the mistake of using technology too often and too soon and now I am playing for it. I see parents do it all the time. They use the TV, video games, computer, iPad, iPhone or whatever to entertain their kids so they can get some work done and not lose their mind doing it. We all know it’s bad but we don’t all have the skills and energy to deal with life ourselves.
Lazy days not lazy parenting
I don’t know what other people do but I make lists. Lists of things the kids are interested in, things they could learn, things I wanted them to learn and places I wanted to take them. Now I just have to balance lazy moments with what’s next on the list.
My kids come up with new and inventive ways to weasel there way to some sort of electronic device all the time. Sometimes I am on top of it and other times I fail miserably. Here is a short list of 10 things we have done to reduce screen time and spend more time together.
- After school sports
- Cub Scouts
- Kid profiles on the computers with a timer and bed time shut off
- Singing and creating songs together
- Taking walks in the evening and going to the park during the day
- cooking and eating together
- visiting local farmers’ markets and attending free events in the area
- Sitting outside on the porch and talking, swimming in the small pool or roasting marshmallows
- We collect things together like rocks, Pokémon cards and Hot Wheels
- We take at least 20-30 a day to practice math skills or read
A lazy day (like today Geez) every once in a while, is OK but I try to not make it the norm.
What do you do as a family? I would love to know.