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30 Day Screen Experiment – Week 1 Wobbles

For better or for worse, week one is in the books.

It didn’t go off exactly as planned, but then again, I have children. When does anything ever go as planned?

In the States, we celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. My kids were with their father the weekend prior, so my husband bestowed an early present upon me: A dungeon-crawler style computer game called Pillars of Eternity.

I won’t lie, I spent the entire weekend before our challenge kid-free and pinned to my screen, indulging in the story, the graphics and the adults-only jokes.

However, I’d committed myself to this challenge. My husband, being totally on board, agreed – we were starting our screen-alternatives on Monday whether we had awesome new games or not.

Initial Success – We Started Strong

We started with Pokémon. I picked my son up from school and we made a surprise stop at the store to get starter decks for my husband and I. My son knew exactly what we needed. We picked out two decks and headed home – me, not quite knowing where this was headed, and my son, positively giddy that we had taken this unexpected interest in playing the Pokémon card game.

I let my kids follow their normal screen routine during dinner. While we ate, my husband and I slyly brought up the impending ComiCon in conversation and told them it was time for them to learn the real rules to Pokémon. That’s when my son put two and two together and realized I was serious about playing.

After dinner, as a family, we sorted cards, built decks and battled!

We had an absolute blast. It took me back to the mid-90s, before the age of the computerized, quest-based game, when I used to play Magic: The Gathering. My husband even admitted that he didn’t miss his screens when we had such a fun game to play!

We were doing well! I had hope in spades.

The Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal of Life

Monday night, life threw me a curve ball.  I didn’t sleep. We decided on Tuesday evening to switch up our plan and have a family movie night. My daughter still hadn’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy, so we decided to rectify that problem. She needed to understand us when we said, “I am Groot.”

I didn’t sleep Tuesday night.

We still managed to play some Pokémon after dinner on Wednesday. My daughter had a ton of homework, which became her primary focus of the evening.

I didn’t sleep Wednesday night.

Thursday was a hazy, zombified blur. By then, I didn’t care. I took half the day off work, wrapped myself up inside a digital, brain-dead paradise and played Pillars of Eternity while the kids and husband did their thing in separate rooms.

I figured it was just one night. With any hope, I’d sleep on Thursday, and we’d pick up where we left off.

We had a problem. I slept just fine on Thursday, and woke Friday feeling mostly refreshed. Nevertheless, we relapsed back to our old ways.

Friday after work, we all did our own thing. On Screens. No communication. No happy faces having fun together.

Saturday, I spent most of the day in front of a screen playing Pillars of Eternity. I felt guilty, but I kept playing. I told my husband I felt guilty. He assured me the kids were busy and happy.

By Mother’s Day Sunday, my family had fully reverted, and I felt like a giant ball of failure.

I sat in my office and I cried. I literally shed tears. I’m not sure what I’d expected, nor do I have any idea what I could have done differently. In truth, the exhaustion of a week without sleep still cuts trenches through my waking thoughts and affects my ability to function. I’ve already scheduled an appointment with my doctor to help determine why I go through these insomnia bouts.

But the failure.

The abject failure!

Screen Reduction – It’s a Process

However, it’s not a failure if you realize the how, what and why and attempt to correct your course.

As of writing this, my children are finishing up with their showers, and I have a board game all set to play before bed.

Tomorrow begins another week of challenge. I knew this wouldn’t be easy, considering just how screen dependent we’d become. If I look at my initial hypotheses: The best method for engaging the kids in non-screen activities is to disengage myself and create a fun and inviting environment – in all demonstrated instances from the last week, this postulate holds firm. It did work. It does work!

The kids have finished their showers and my daughter and husband just told me it’s time to go play our first-ever round of Descent. They are excited and happy to play, and they’re choosing it over their screens.

Maybe it’s just Mother’s Day.

Or maybe it’s not such a failed week after all.

photo credit: Giacomo Pratellesi via shutterstock

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