My kids love electronic entertainment. They love movies, games, tablets, tv shows, YouTube, Netflix, the list goes on. I’m usually pretty lax on their electronic time, as long as they aren’t failing to do their chores, and aren’t arguing over what to watch. But this summer I implemented the rule of no electronics, nothing, from 10am-5pm, and I’m watching something magical happen.
My oldest is 8 years old and loves to code and watch YouTube videos on coding. Minecraft has become an obsession, and he loves to check out others building ideas and then try them out on his own Minecraft world. He’s also an early riser, too early for me and the other two kiddos, so letting him wake up quietly to his Kindle or the tv helps us sleep a little longer and helps him wake up slowly, which is what he prefers, and I’m okay with that.
But once summer vacation started, I quickly realized that if he had the chance, he’d spend the whole vacation on the couch plugged in to an electronic world that didn’t include the rest of us unless it was time to eat or his sister decided to fight for the remote. Something had to change.
I, like many of you, have seen several ideas on how to govern electronic-time for our kids. The ideas of having a list of chores for them to complete before having electronics wasn’t something I thought would work for us, since I already expect them to complete age-appropriate chores as a part of helping out around the home they live in. So we came up with our own and started out with ‘No Electronic Tuesdays and Thursdays’, but after two weeks of that, we realized it wasn’t working for the kids, or for me.
After talking with my oldest, we came up with the idea of ‘No Electronics from 10am-5pm Monday-Friday’. This plan actually seems to be working for all of us, partly I think because he had a say in it, and partly because he still has the chance to wake up slowly everyday and they also all are able to wind down from the day to a show with mom or dad. Another thing that helps us to be successful with our rule change is we aren’t extremely strict with our time limits. I think a valuable lesson in life is how to be flexible and take outside factors into consideration and change up the plan if need be. Some rainy and cold days have changed our no electronic rule, and that’s okay. They know that it is a gift for the rules to be bent for the day, and any arguing over the remote or which show to watch will end in the electronics being taken away again.
Another interesting thing that has happened is since their tv time is now so limited, they don’t even bother with cable television and go straight for their shows on Netflix or YouTube. In turn, we’ve canceled our cable tv service. Its been over a week, and they still haven’t questioned it. They haven’t even noticed. 🙂 By far the most amazing part of implementing the no electronic plan is what’s happening between them and how their relationships are starting to grow!
School time for my kids is hectic. My oldest is going to be a third grader, and rides the bus to school in the morning. He has some dietary restrictions, which means he has to get up early enough to eat breakfast, brush his teeth, get dressed, and make sure his backpack has everything he needs for the day, including his lunch and snack. After school I pick him up and he has at least an hour of homework each night, supper, chores, and then the bedtime routine, which all needs to fit into 4 hours of time. That doesn’t leave much time for playing or building relationships with siblings, especially when everyone is tired by the time we all are together again.
Turning off the electronics has given them a natural push to start to play together again. They’ve started to rely on one another for entertainment and are quickly becoming friends again. They are learning some pretty big life lessons too, and since I’m home with them, I have the opportunity to help guide them and teach them to be a good friend. They are learning that not only their words, but also their tone affect other people. They are learning to stop and think about how their words are making one another feel. They are learning that their actions have consequences, something that their impulsive little minds sometimes forget. They are learning how to help one another, work together, and problem solve with one another. They are developing skills and building relationships with one another that will last a lifetime.
They are playing house, riding bikes, playing soccer, having water fights, going on walks, playing their guitars together, playing hide and seek, and playing tag, amongst all the other games they come up with. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all love and fun… there have been many fights and tears from hurtful words. But they are also learning apologize and forgive (without prompts to do so), to appreciate one another, and to respect one another. And for this, I’m thankful.