Screen-Free Saturdays #celebratelu

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Yesterday, I was ruminating on one of my perennial favorite topics for rumination and parental self-flagellation: too much screen time. I’m not going to confess how many hours every week my son spends watching TV and playing video games, but let’s just say it’s a lot. And there are reasons for it, good reasons, which is why we never end up limiting screen time even though we talk about the possibility of limiting screen time at least six dozen times a week.

But yesterday, I think I discovered the solution. Screen-Free Saturdays. My husband was all over it immediately. It took me the rest of the day to figure out how to break the news to my son. I finally decided to use one of my favorite paradoxical parenting techniques: prediction.

“I’ve got this new idea for Saturdays and I’m scared to tell you because you’re really, really going to hate it.”

“What is it?”

“Screen-free Saturdays.”

I could see my son bite down the words he really wanted to say.

“No, I think it’s a great idea!” he said with false cheer. “I’m really excited! I don’t hate it at all! It will be fun!”

When you have a child who reflexively disagrees with you no matter what you say, you might as well make it work for you.

Today is our first screen-free Saturday, and since my son is sitting next to me playing NBA2K (while I’m on my computer writing a quick blog post) and since we’re planning a movie after dinner, you might wonder just how screen-free it’s going to be. But one evening movie was the reprieve I offered for all of us to look forward to after ten hours of tech-free togetherness, and one morning video game was the compromise my son and I reached last night when he confessed how he really felt about screen-free Saturdays. I figured that even subtracting 20 minutes for a video game in the morning and 90 minutes for a movie in the evenings, we’d still have many screen-free hours to enjoy.

What are we going to do with our screen-free time?

I’m imagining lots of board games. The occasional outing. Longer dog walks. Trips to the gym. When weather permits, shooting hoops or throwing the football. Table tennis? I’ll pull out my coloring books and origami set. Maybe my son will dream up a building project or art project of some kind. He likes to tinker and make stuff and create, but he rarely does that since TV and video games are so much more immediately engaging. Maybe we’ll bake cookies. Maybe we’ll be so bored we clean the house. Maybe we’ll develop some new hobby that I can’t even imagine right now.

It will be time together, though, the quality time that I crave having more of with my son. There are just 23 seconds left on his video game. Let the screen-free time begin!







14 responses to “Screen-Free Saturdays #celebratelu”

  1. Linda Baie Avatar

    O Happy Day, hope it’s just fun, and a reward for making such a decision.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      “Reward” might be a bit strong, but I can see how it will definitely become rewarding.

  2. jarhartz Avatar

    YAY! I did this with my kids years ago. Screens were limited to the TV then. It was a gift. Creativity is the child of boredom. Excited for you.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s hard for me to imagine never being bored–boredom was such a staple of my childhood! And then, yes, creativity. But I certainly see in my students kids who have never been bored–or who have a very different understanding of boredom than I have. I notice that I give myself almost no chance to be bored anymore. A moment of downtime sees me whipping out my phone.

      1. jarhartz Avatar

        So true. As I sit on my phone responding to you! Hmmm…

  3. Tara Smith Avatar

    Bravo! And you have the best game to begin screen free time, too!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      And cats who are very ready to “play”!

  4. Jennifer Laffin Avatar

    This is awesome! Good for you and your family to pursue more family togetherness time.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Jennifer! We do spend a lot of time together–but so much of it centers on screens!

  5. carriegelson Avatar

    Oh screen time – yikes. It is a constant source of yikes in our house. Good for you for celebrating this day! Enjoy. We have limits and “rules” and well, don’t get me started. Screens! AHHH! So I was so pleased to come here and read this celebration. I hope the cats do well in Monopoly!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      We’ve been debating literally for years how we can limit but always end up backing off whatever plan we come up with. Some days, my son just needs the brain break and distraction from all that’s going on in his head. Some days, it’s the only thing that keeps him in the house. That said, we spend basically no time on individual devices or computers: screen time is most definitely family time. So it’s not all bad. But I hate to imagine him as an adult looking back on his childhood and remembering…. video games? Movies? American Idol? Ugh! It’s really difficult to set limits without going to extremes–at least for me. Wish we could sit down and have a good long talk about this–and so many other things!

  6. Ramona Avatar

    Love the Monopoly-playing cat! You may have to boot her/him off the board in order to play. Hope your almost screen free day was filled with fun

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The cats get so excited when board games are pulled out. We almost always have at least one cat in the game box watching play and another one attempting to enter the fun and take her turn!

  7. […] A celebration of my new Saturday initiative, Screen-Free Saturdays […]

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