Monday, 20 January 2014

Our Screen Free Day - a link-up with #LetKidsBeKids

If you've read around my blog a bit, you'll know that I fret about screen time, whether that's TV or computer-type devices. We've been doing pretty well at avoiding screens since those posts on the whole - Eleanor no longer looks at pictures on my phone and very rarely looks at the laptop either. But she still watches at least a couple of TV shows a day (albeit 10-minute ones) and she will slouch on the sofa with her toddler-tablet like the world's smallest teenager.


So when I heard that Karen over at Let Kids Be Kids was organising a screen-free day for Sunday 19th January, I decided I'd test myself and take the plunge.

We planned some activities in for the day to keep Eleanor busy, but we knew that the big challenge would be first thing in the morning. Often when we walk downstairs Eleanor will say to me, "Watch Raa Raa!" or, "Watch Abadas!" (Those are pretty much the only TV programmes she watches. She can pretty much recite whole episodes of 'Raa Raa the Noisy Lion', she's watched them so many times) Usually we relent and let her watch a couple of episodes before breakfast, and maybe one or two afterwards, so I was quite anxious about how to distract her from these demands. In the end, it wasn't that bad - she just wanted to look at books at first, and it wasn't until about 8.30am that she realised that she hadn't watched any TV and had the long-expected meltdown about it. I offered her a few alternatives and she decided to play with her train set, which she did very happily. Crisis averted.


We then went to the farmer's market in our town. After the success of our walk a few days before I decided to walk there with Eleanor, and my husband met us there with the car. In the end we probably spent three times as long getting to the market as we did actually there! It had been dry when we set out but started to drizzle and then properly rain, so we didn't hang around for long, but it was good to see how far Eleanor could walk without the incentive of puddles!

Then came Eleanor's nap time and an unexpected challenge - what do I do now??! I'm terrible for faffing about on the internet and most days I waste Eleanor's nap time playing online. If I don't do that, I'll often catch up on TV instead. Deprived of these options, I ended up cleaning our kitchen more thoroughly than I have done in ages, and then I settled down to do some knitting.


(That's knitting. I'm not quite sure why I feel the need to illustrate this. It's actually a cardigan for a newborn that I started before Eleanor was born then abandoned when I realised that babies STEAL ALL YOUR TIME. Oh well, I'll save it for the next friend to have a baby.)

Once Eleanor was up and fed, we played with trains and read books until it was time to go to our next activity - Messy Church. If you're of a churchy persuasion and have small children, I thoroughly recommend Messy Church. The format varies from place to place, but at our local church it consists of about an hour of doing different craft activities (you can pick and choose which activities you do and in what order) followed by a short 'service' (basically a bit of singing and dancing followed by a story or a child-friendly talk) then topped off with a shared meal. It's a fantastic chance to try different crafts out with your kids and there's something for all ages - yesterday Eleanor played with playdough, did some colouring in, decorated a little jewellery box and sabotaged what could have been a very nice little picture frame.


(You can see in the background of that picture that the card should have had a border of lolly sticks. Eleanor decided that it looked better without them and pulled them off. My daughter, the wrecking ball.)

We only did about half of the activities because Eleanor preferred to just wander around, and was keen to get into the church sanctuary for the singing and dancing - and in her case, climbing under the communion rail repeatedly. Fortunately the minister didn't seem fazed by this!

We went home, played and read some more, then Eleanor went off to bed, falling asleep much more quickly than normal. Again bereft of TV and laptop, I did some more knitting before having the one thing all parents need the most after a busy day - an early night!

It surprised me how easy it had been to keep Eleanor away from screens all day. It helped that it was a weekend so I had my husband to help; often I use TV as a distraction while I go and get dressed or get the laundry on, so having someone else to entertain her was useful. But other than that, it really wasn't hard. The harder thing was keeping myself away from the laptop! But it meant that I achieved more and had some proper downtime instead of staring at a screen.

In the end, we didn't need to do anything particularly exciting or elaborate to get through a day without screens, which just proves that anyone can do it! You don't have to travel anywhere, or spend lots of money - long walks, local events and favourite toys are really all you need!

 photo letkidsbekidslogobadge_zps424b7d61.jpg

6 comments:

  1. Well done! I think I had a pretty similar experience to you yesterday from what I've just read and bedtime was also a lot quicker than normal for us too. :)

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    1. Just goes to show you don't have to go to huge lengths to avoid screens! Looking forward to reading about your screen-free day, have you posted about it yet?

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  2. Great results - well done! It's amazing how little TV the kids actually need, but when offered it they will watch it all day long ;-) mine are big Raa Raa fans too!

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    1. True, I'm very careful not to let Eleanor watch too much TV anyway but even so it was nice to have a day without having to watch flipping Raa Raa!

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  3. Well done! Thank you so much for taking part.
    You are right, you don't need anything amazing to stay away from the screens, just your own imagination and desire.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with #LetKidsBeKids

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    1. Thanks for organising it Karen, it was a very revealing day! Hope there are plans for another one!

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