Ok, not completely tech free. But definitely tech limited! I have always been attracted to pulling a Chip & Joanna & getting rid of all the tv. But in all transparency, Todd & I are as technology dependent as everyone else. We each have an iPhone, Todd has an iPad, I have an apple watch, we have every gaming system on the planet because Todd is a major gamer, & I love social media. And hello, you’re reading this on my website. Ha! So how did we make limited tech a lifestyle for us for a year?
We had spent 2014 & 2015 traveling a lot, house shopping, we moved houses twice in a year, our house had been on the market for a long time so tons of showings & I was desperate for keeping the kids entertained that I used anything I could to keep them distracted so I could just get the job done. Once we were settled, I was wanting to get us back on a better path on our tech use as a family. In January 2016, I read a book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood & Family relationships in the digital age.
One weekend, my parents had come up for a visit & my oldest used my phone for games, my middle kiddo used my mom’s phone to play games & we sat in the living room doing nothing. What a waste of a beautiful day! I also noticed during that time, the kids would have major mood changes when using tablets or my cell phone to watch videos & play games, especially at these ages. They would get agitated, would frustrate easily, or burst into tears for no reason. I eventually started to connect it to tech use after reading some articles online & from the book I had been reading. After that, I decided it was time to experiment with some changes.
By the second week, we decided to reset. The tablets were put away, no more phones when out to eat or when riding in the car. We deleted all the games off my phone & instead I would come up with different things to do. I would get out colors, coloring books, blank paper, sketch pads & we would draw together, we would go outside for a short walk, short dance parties to fight off boredom, or I would get out a book & read to them. I also bought soundtracks to my favorite musicals growing up for them to listen to when we were in the car together & had a blast with those! (Those CDs were The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Cats, & The Wizard of Oz.)
Phones & TV had never been allowed during dinner, so that wasn’t an adjustment we had to make. BUT, instead of hopping on technology right after supper we instituted a family game night, a night where we would read the kids the Sunday Gospel reading for the upcoming weekend, an occasional family movie night & a Nick at Night TV show for a couple of episodes before bed (the original Nick at Night stuff y’all, the good shows!) The focus became on being more intentional with how we spent time as a family while we were at home.
Was it hard?? Oh my gosh, so hard! Harder for me than it was for the kids actually! I was using technology to not only let my kids zone out, but it let me zone out. There wasn’t enough quality time being given to my kids & I wasn’t being active enough with them like I wanted to be on a regular basis. Re-correcting those habits was very difficult for me & honestly the kids adjusted better than I did. Ha! They enjoyed the improved time we all spent together.
Two successes that I remember from that year, were from when we went on a family road trip to North Carolina (it was a 15 hour drive for us) & our kids listened to those soundtracks THE.ENTIRE.TIME. They colored. They looked out the window. And they were happy with it. It was their new norm. Which was ironic, because I had been perfectly willing to allow movies on the iPad for the road trip!
The second success came when my parents were back for a visit. This time, it was a tech free visit. We listened to music in the car & my kids got to see Mimi be silly while singing the Sound of Music & they were so impressed she knew the words. We drove over to the local art museum, walked the trails & saw a Chihuly exhibit. The time we spent together became true, authentic quality time. It was an eye opening experience to how amazing of a shift we had made with our experiment!
Have you ever cut out technology with your family? How did it go???
TUNE IN WEDNESDAY, 2/20 FOR PART 2:
Where Are We Today With Technology???
[…] Monday, I wrote my part 1 story about how our family went tech free for a year when my kids were 6 years, 3 years & 5 […]