Screen-Free Spring Break

Two weeks ago, Charlotte was on Spring Break (along with most of the Atlanta area). I had no huge plans. Which is probably good, because the Georgia pollen was absolutely insane, and I couldn’t step outside without my eyes burning and feeling my throat close up.

We ended up accomplishing something huge though: We went an entire week with no screen time.

I am no perfect mother. Screen time is something that seems to snowball until you realize it’s gotten way too out of hand. We typically use TV while I cooked dinner, to keep Charlotte out of the kitchen and away from the hot stove. Or when I wasn’t done with my hair and makeup before we needed to leave the house. But Charlotte started to expect TV time, and we also had a YouTube (“tube”) problem.

The tube problem is all my fault. I would hand Charlotte my phone during diaper changes, while we were putting up her hair in the mornings, and most recently, Charlotte had started to ask for it while getting buckled into her car seat. It was just a minute here and there, but it was a problem. And I felt like her expectation of screen time caused some behavior issues, too.

But this stuff is hard, y’all. Have you tried to put pigtails in a squirmy two year old? Sometimes it’s impossible. Sometimes you need to get out the door in two minutes and you still haven’t changed the diaper. And after having migraines the week prior and relying on TV more than I typically do, I put my foot down. No screen time for a week.

We started on Friday, and it felt daunting. I don’t typically start our day out with the TV on, but just knowing that I couldn’t fall back onto it felt like a bit of a challenge.

I planned out activities and outside play, and let Charlotte go at her own pace. Since we had nowhere to be in the mornings with no school, we were able to adjust and deal with some resistance. I said “no” a lot. I found some other things to occupy Charlotte’s attention during diaper changes and brushing teeth. I let her help me more with things around the house, even preparing food. Yes, it took me a lot longer to get them done, but we weren’t in a hurry.

And something awesome happened. Charlotte started playing much more independently. She still acted out scenes from Frozen. We listened to a lot of music and had dance parties. We did a lot of art. And after a couple of days, she stopped asking for “tube”. She stopped asking to watch Mickey Mouse. But she has started asking for “Shiny” (the song from Moana).

The next Friday afternoon, we celebrated by watching a movie. Up. She doesn’t usually sit and watching movies (except Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph), but she sat and watched the whole thing with me while eating a snack.

From now on, we are going to use screen time as a tool, but not by default. We’ll have Friday movies, too — probably more Disney ones to prepare for our upcoming trip!

How do you handle screen time with your kids?