A Month of No Screens

Hey Friends! We not only survived a month of no screens but thrived. Before January came around, I often said “ I don’t watch that much tv, I use it as background noise while I work and watch it in the evenings with Austin to wind down” But I quickly realized how much time I wasted with the distraction of that background noise on and how much precious time we missed out on in the evening while being a zombie and watching reruns or honestly, sitting and wasting 30-45 minutes trying to find something “new” on Netflix hahaha.

I realized that when I was frustrated or needed to work, I would turn on a show for Olive. If she was in a bad mood I’d turn on a show to try and change her attitude but in the end, it was rewarding her bad behavior and spiraling into a bad behavior bubble that would continue until bedtime.

It was hard for me to swallow but realizing that I turned on a show to distract my daughter when actually she was saying she needed me in her own way was something I desperately wanted to change. I want to be fully present, which is hard and takes courage. I want to dive deep into this motherhood calling I’m walking out and not barely get through it. I want to look back and see a life fulfilled and not regret the moments I wasn’t there. Working from home, can steal those moments from you and putting up boundaries is hard but rewarding.

When we started this challenge, I decided that I would commit to doing a craft a day, no matter the mess. (READ THIS BLOG) Whenever I wanted to turn on the tv, I would get out the paint, markers, crayons, cardboard you name it and we would create something fun and then both girls would play with whatever we made for the next few hours. Whenever I wanted to reach for the comfort of a “few minutes to myself” I turned on worship or princess music and started dance parties and then walked into the other room to take a few minutes. At night, I turned on story books for Olive to listen too. (we have a CINEMOOD and they have preloaded Disney storybooks on that I would turn on for her, but audible has some too). Austin’s parents got her a Leapfrog and we call it her “computer” (it isn't a screen it’s little books) and she has been loving learning and playing with this while in the car. We used it on our 3-hour drive to the mountains where normally we would have let her just watch shows.

After the first week of no screens, Austin & I both noticed that Olive’s imagination play came to life. She already talks a lot but started talking even more. Would create entire worlds of play and didn’t ask to watch a show whenever she was upset or frankly bored. (its okay for kids to be bored!)

After the second week, we realized that she would go sit and read books by herself. This, of course, came from us reading to her way more instead of turning on shows. But she started to read books more and then we noticed Pearl was sitting and flip through pages and talk and read books more. (beautiful right)

The third and fourth week were similar, and the only time she would ask for a show is if she saw one of us go downstairs where our tv was because she associates our basement with a show. We would just say we aren’t watching a show right now lets go….fill in the blank with something to do.

a lot of you have messaged me on Instagram asking “how” how have I done no screen time when you feel like your kids rely on it. But most of you have messaged me have also said you notice a huge behavioral shift in your kids when they watch a screen (tv, youtube, etc) So here is a list of things you can offer your children instead of the tv. Also, some of you said you start or end your day with the tv and you’re not sure how to change that. I just want to encourage you that even though change isn’t always comfortable it is certainly doable! It just takes consistency.

  • Go outside and collect treasures to paint (rocks, pine cones, leaves, sticks)

  • Pick up paper mache crafts from target for them to paint

  • Homemade Playdough (we use our Unicorn Superfoods to color it but I need to order non toxic dye)

  • Shadow Puppets

  • Paint a birdhouse

  • Noodle Necklaces

  • Kinetic sand (get a shallow bin and hide things in the sand)

  • Make binoculars with toilet paper rolls ( we do this quite often) and then play a game with them or make a few for friends and go on an adventure walk!

  • Make cookies/bread/muffins Minimalist Baker has all our favorite vegan recipes and we cut the sugar in half.

  • Bubble Foam (haven’t done this yet but looks so fun!)

  • Shaving cream fun

  • Seasonal sensory bins

  • Have them rip or cut strips of paper and glue them onto a big piece of paper. We buy the Easel paper and let her glue all over it.

  • Build a fort.. use your couch or kitchen/dining table

  • Playing music/dancing to music/reading to music

  • Audiobooks for kids

  • Reusable sticker pad

  • Let them go wild with colored masking tape

  • Chalkboard Fun! Olive got an easel for her birthday and she loves coloring with chalk and wiping it away and using the dry erase markers

  • You can make this Suncatcher Craft with any shape. we have so much contact paper left from this craft we will be making these for a while!

  • Go to the library and get seasonal books

  • Paint Ice

  • Have them help you clean or organize something and then get to pick something out of the $1 section at target

  • Use veggies as Stamps for Paint (potatoes, celery, apples, corn, cabbage)

  • Start your indoor Garden. Grow carrots with this DIY

  • Make Bread, We bake sourdough with an active Starter. But you can make an easy bread recipe with active yeast.

I hope you feel encouraged to turn off the tv and get your kid's imaginations going! Just a little disclaimer, everyone is in their own season. Maybe right now you have a newborn and a toddler and need the tv for a small amount of time or maybe you homeschool and use an educational show to keep your little once occupied. That’s totally okay, There is grace for each season of life! I want to encourage you to evaluate your screen time in your household. Is it healthy? Is it a crutch? Is it causing behavioral issues? It’s okay for kids to be bored! Let them be bored for a few days and they will learn to play! What about for yourself? Are you using screen time as some sort of a crutch? I was, and it was hard to swallow but now I get to read those books I always said I wanted to read, I connect with my husband more, I work uninterrupted and I get to have quiet time with the Lord, something I’ve always wanted but wasn't making time for.

Stay tuned for my second post with more ideas of what to do with your kiddos!

You can shop my Amazon Storefront of my favorite crafts all linked HERE

Stephanie PollockComment