"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.