Yup, you read that right, we have banned our three children from all things electronic, iPads, computer, Wii and the iPad, and as bizarre as it sounds, they haven’t gone apeshit.
Ok, I’m not a complete witch, they are allowed limited access over the weekend, but during the week there is a zero tolerance policy towards technology. I am happy, to the point of disbelief, at how well it’s going.
The decision came about after a two month holiday back in the UK, during which the kids were pretty much allowed to use their iPods and the iPad freely. Mr Lemons and myself used those gadgets to baby sit our kids, as we enjoyed an extra half an hour in bed, it was bloody lush!
But each day, without fail, our sleep would be shattered, as yet another fight broke out over the murder of a Minecraft chicken!
After a fun day out, our kids would rush through the doors, frantically grabbing their iPods to see if their Jurassic Park dinosaurs had eaten, had a baby or God forbid, died!
The day’s fun overridden, yet again, by a bloody dinosaur and her yelping hungry babies.
I know the risks associated with allowing my children too much screen time.
Obesity, lack of concentrate and isolation amongst many, and a recent report has added ‘risks to mental health’ to the long list of related consequences.
But I am guilty of sometimes ignoring the warnings so that I can get on with things…
Then one day, whist in the supermarket with The 5 Year Old, I saw an elderly lady staring at us. Now normally people stare at us because we are loud and quite manic, as in this post here, but I do try to engage the kids whilst shopping, asking them to weigh produce or find a particular cereal, and this is always a noisy, sometimes stressful, but generally fun affair.
But on this day, I had plonked my son in the trolly and given him his iPod so that I could ‘have a bit of peace’.
I saw myself through the eyes of that old lady, a busy, distracted, rushed Mother and her child, totally unengaged with his surrounding, literally in a world, not of his own, but in that of a flock of electronic Angry Birds.
I felt pretty shitty right then. I only had one of my three children with me, and instead of taking the opportunity to spend some ‘quality time’ with him, I was completely ignoring him.
I had a flashback to the supermarket trips I would take with my own mother. I clearly remember sitting in the trolly in Tescos, sipping a small bottle of Panda cola. Then hopping out to unload the trolly and fill the begs.
I remember it felt like a treat.
Doing something as simple as going shopping with my mother has embedded itself into my memory.
Just going shopping, being together.
They grow up so fast and here was I missing it.
I decided right then, in the yogurt aisle, that my kids would also remember the ‘nothing days’, they’d they would be so naturally engaged with their surroundings that life would embed itself automatically into their curious, wonderful, alert little minds.
I wanted to wake them up from their Jurassic Park stupour.
So fast forward to the beginning of the new school term and I introduce ‘the ban’. I locked away the iPods, the Wii controls & the computer mouse, I also disconnected the TV ariel and I waited for the hysterics to commence!
But they didn’t.
Well at least not over Minecraft or Jurassic Park, we did however have a meltdown over a squashed caterpillar, a broken chilli plant, sock seams and who was going to stuff their hand up Sid’s bum in the ‘You’re Not so Scary Sid’ book.
They have played endlessly, gone on walks with the dog, read, made loom bands, sorted out the colouring pencils, made hideouts, baked these chocolate muffins, messed the whole freaken house up, climbed on the roof of the garden shed & stabbed a hole in my kitchen table making a shield.
Of course they have argued, but they haven’t argued in the overly aggressive and frustrated manner that they always do over Mario Bros or the loss of a 3D chicken.
The most interesting thing so far, is that over the weekend, when ‘the ban’ was lifted, they hardly played with electronics at all. Apart from a brief spell on Just Dance and a session watching Dolly Parton singing Jolene on Youtube, they haven’t binged on screen time whatsoever.
I’m not Mary Poppins and I’m far from perfect.
You won’t now find me throwing myself into home-schooling or baking organic carrot muffins for supper, popping on their hessian-weave pyjamas and reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica before bedtime.
There will be days when I will think and most certainly will scream, ‘Sod it, just sling a bloody movie on and SHUT THE HELL UP!” and equally there will be days that require us to use the internet for homework and research.
But for now I am choosing to switch off the electronics and switch on my children.
Wish me luck, and if all fails, wish me chilled Sauvignon Blanc.