Drawing the line.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow they will be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift. Just breathe, notice and study their little faces and little feet. Pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today, it will be over before you know it." 
It was this quote, alongside conviction from the Holy Spirit, that whispered to my heart that it was time: time to make a major step back from technology with Liam. 

From the beginning of his life, I've had such mixed feelings about the technology issue. How can you not? If you ever scroll through Facebook or read blogs, you'll be bombarded with advice on the topic. It's usually an extreme, "all or nothing" (or rather, just "nothing") kind of approach. "Don't let your kids near a screen; don't even let them see you pulling out your phone." Not very realistic in 2014, if you ask me.

But apart from FaceTime with grandparents and friends, Liam never really did interact with a screen for the majority of his first year. After that, we slowly introduced him to educational toddler games on the iPhone and iPad and a few shows (Curious George and Daniel Tiger are favorites). Sometimes, it's been for sanity alone. While I was sick in early pregnancy and Shawn was at work, I had few options other than a) have him destroy the house and possibly get hurt or b) watch a show while I waited for Zofran to kick in and make me a functional human being again. The choice was easy. Certainly for our trip to Germany over the summer, Liam had nearly unlimited access to in-flight movies and games just to make it through the flights. We're careful about what he has access to, limit his time, and he's actually learned quite a bit. He's not even two and knows all of his letters and is beginning to read short words. I know that, in part, it's because of some of the educational apps he has access to.
But despite all that, at some point in the last couple weeks, it started to feel consuming. It felt like his desire for a screen was swallowing his desire for other activities more often than not. As soon as I'd strap him into his car seat, he'd ask, "Game?" and be frantic if I didn't hand him my phone.

So yesterday, I decided it was time to go cold turkey for a while. No TV, no iPhone or iPad access, no computer. I had a feeling he'd go through withdrawal and would ask every few hours if he could watch a show or play a game. 

But to my surprise, he didn't. At all. He grabbed the remote off the table once, asked for a show, and as soon as I offered him another option he put the remote down and moved on. 

Tonight, I spilled some pizza on the oven door and the smoke alarm started to go off. He spotted my phone and asked, "Game?" and I said, "Yes!" out of sheer desperation in that moment. But as soon as he held the phone, he looked at it for a second, put it back down on the counter, and went downstairs to play with his toys. My heart did flips. 

I don't know what it'll look like from here on out (or if every day will be so seamless), but I guess I just want to encourage other mamas who may be trying to decide where to draw the line... just draw the line. Make the decision you feel in your gut is what your family needs. Your kids will go with it - they may even surprise you. They're much more resilient than we ever give them credit.

9 comments:

  1. Love this! Thank you for the encouragement. I have a 15 month old & am 16 weeks pregnant with our second & I can definitely relate to using the TV out of desperation over the last few months. But these past couple of weeks, as I'm feeling much more human again, I've been limiting the videos (which takes a HUGE intentional effort on momma's part - it becomes as natural for us to turn it on as it does for them to watch it unfortunately). He's responded really well & we've been reading books instead, which he loves! Seeing other things they love is a sweet & gentle reminder to me that they don't always need those electronics. Keep pressing on!

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    1. Good for you. I hope you keep pressing on, too! Challenging but so healthy.

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  2. I love you, Whit. And I'm secretly thrilled that FaceTime was NOT in your cold turkey program :) Bath time is always so entertaining! haha

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    1. I love you, too. And though FaceTime isn't going away, FaceTiming with Aunt Ash while Liam's in the bath just might... because... yeah. Not for the faint of heart. :)

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  3. i agree with the fact that 2014 is a difficult time to cut out most technology. i do agree that we have control over the amount we use it and when. i feel like God showed you that Liam is capable of entertaining himself even when you are in the midst of a crisis (and prayerfully without destructing the house). last year was a lot of cold days where i didn't really want to get all my kids outside for the bus stop wait. i let the two littles watch a show while they finished their breakfast and the two bigs would head to the end of the driveway. this year we are surprisingly homeschooling, and the best part is that screen time is non existent. we watch a LOT more tv than my sister, but we also don't play games that they play (video games).
    grace, love, and time.

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    1. Whew... video games is a whole other topic. I'm honestly so thankful Shawn wasn't into them (except as a kid) and we won't be having them in our house. Seems like a black hole of time.

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  4. Thanks for this post! I'm due in December with my first and have been thinking about how we want to handle technology. We are both pretty averse to video games and we don't own a TV, but we recognize the educational benefits (as well as saving our sanity!) of some technology. It sounds to me like you are really finding a good balance for Liam, one that I am encouraged we will find for our baby. An off topic comment--your posts about your current pregnancy (plus my current pregnancy) inspired me to go read your posts about your pregnancy and labor with Liam. I'm in Nashville and seeing the Vanderbilt midwives (whom I am assuming from context clues is who you maybe saw as well) and was encouraged to hear about your positive experience at Vanderbilt! We have our L&D tour tonight, actually.

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    1. That makes me SO happy! I had the absolute best experience at Vanderbilt and almost tear up every time I talk about it. My midwife, Lauren, ended up moving to Arkansas to start her own birthing center - but I really would've been happy with just about any of the midwives being at the delivery (my second choice would've been Linda). So thrilled for you to have that experience - and slightly jealous. :) It really was such a gift.

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  5. I've always been really strict on technology. The only time we used more was when my daughter was a newborn and my son was 18 months. I couldn't figure out how to nurse without the tv for a little while there!

    Anyway, for us the best thing is just to know our clear limits ahead of time. Because it is almost more tempting for the parent than the child to see tv as the solution. They are allowed 30 minutes of tv on Sunday nights normally. That's it. But I love that now that they are 2.5 and 4 they'll ask sometimes, "Is it Sunday." And if I say no they don't even broach the idea of tv because they know the limit.

    We also know that we don't have to be totally crazy so when we are on vacation at the beach and they wake up at 5am they can watch a few cartoons before hitting the sand at 6am. But I think that's about not letting rules rule our life either!

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