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  • Writer's pictureCasey Girard

Screen Ban

Updated: Feb 4, 2018

My kids are going to hate me. Monday morning, the day after the Super Bowl , the Girard family will begin a two week TV and tablet ban. Why, you ask? Because Mamma Bear has had enough.

This morning I was woken up by my five year old daughter sneaking down stairs to grab her tablet. I grudgingly opened my eyes and noticed the room was still dark. I reached over to my night stand and grabbed my phone to check the time. After my eyes adjusted to the horrific brightness, I was able to read the clock. 4:58 am. “Are you kidding me, Saylor Jade?” I said under my breath as my feet found my slippers in the dark. Halfway down the stairs I heard the sound of a chair being dragged across the kitchen tiles. This time I repeated my question, but much louder, and I rounded the corner of the living room. I saw her standing on the chair, back to me, already dressed in her school clothes (she knows she'snot allowed to watch her tablet until she is dressed and ready for school) . She unplugged her beloved tablet and turned around to make a quick escape. Then she saw me. Her wide eyes met mine as I asked “What are you doing, Little Lady?”, already knowing the answer. “I like to watch videos while I color, and look I’m dressed” she cleverly responded without missing a beat. Amused by her wit and determination I let her off the hook, “I see that. Go ahead, but please don’t wake Brother”. I listened to her feet pitter-patter their way up stairs, and I started the coffee. It was 5 am and I was wide awake, so I did what I did every other morning, I turned on the Daily Show, and opened my tablet to write. It was in that moment I realized I write 90% of my journal/blog entries with the TV on in the background.

Wait a minute. Holy Hell, I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM. My kids are learning their screen habits from me! Talk about a real eye opener. Coincidentally, last night I finished Cait Flander’s book, The Year of Less (www.caitflander.com). In her book she describes her journey of being a more mindful consumer. She shares her struggles of learning to be happy with what she has, and breaking the cycle of impulsive purchases and habits. Her story and words are inspiring, if you haven’t read her book, I highly recommend it. Along with a year long shopping ban, Cait commits herself to 30 days of no TV. If Cait can do it, we can do it. As a child I turned to books when I was bored. I’d get lost in stories for hours, and only come back to reality for meals. My love for reading has carried into adulthood, but at night I find myself turning on Netflix instead of picking up a book because it’s easier. Reading feels like work when my mind is exhausted from a long day of raising little humans. Why? When did reading morph from hobby to a chore? I have to get back to my roots.

Back to the kids. We read a story every night before bed. Sometimes we read two. During the day, my youngest and I read together as well. Reading is and always has been a priority when it comes to the kids, but are we doing enough? Are we leading by example? Would I be okay if my kids develop the same TV and screen habits I have? To be honest, I think I have a lot of room for improvement. I appreciate a good challenge, and I’m lucky to have a husband who goes along with my madness, so let the games begin.

The screen ban will take place February 5th-18th.

Here are the rules: - No TV - No Kindles - Limited smartphone use - Limited IPad - No electronic devices in bed

This experience is not meant to be a form of torture. There for, I’m not going to take away the IPhones. I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I look forward to the phone conversations with my husband during his breaks at work. I also use my phone as a resource through out the day. I use the calculator, calendar, banking application and other every day tools. I listen to audio books, music, and podcasts. When I cook the recipes often come from Pinterest. Whether I like to admit it or not my phone has become my copilot in life. I want to complete this challenge, not crash and burn, so I will continue to use my phone as a tool during the screen ban, but there will be no visual entertainment allowed. I will delete the social media applications on my phone for the 14 days, which will hopefully help fight the temptation to scroll.

I journal using an app call “Day One” on my IPad. Instead, this month I will go back to the basics and journal using a pen and paper. I also blog (duh), so instead of a “No IPad” rule we will have a limited use policy. I plan to document and share our screen free journey, so once a week (after the kids go to bed, or before they wake for the day) I will be allowed to use the IPad to write an update post. Posting during the experiences will allow me to share my feelings, findings and struggles while I’m experiencing them instead of after the fact. Sharing this journey also holds me accountable. I will allow myself to share a weekly update on social media, but not interact with the comments or messages it provokes until after the ban. I also write for content mills to bring in a little extra cash for the family. During the ban I will allow myself to continue online freelance writing, because the ban is not meant to keep me from working. However, I will not be allowed to have my IPad in bed at all. I’ll work in the mornings, before the kids wake up or after their bedtime, so they are not confused by the presence of the screen.

My poor husband. I’m so lucky to have such a patient soul by my side. He is always the first person to jump on board when I present another wild idea. However, he has requested some exceptions of his own. Jake is a hockey fan. More specifically, a life long, and die hard Bruins fan. It’s a passion passed down from his father. So Bruin games are allowed. We don’t have cable, so he typically keeps up with the games online, and sometimes watches them with his Dad. Jake has also requested to scroll during his #2 movements, and who am I to deny a man of that? So number two scrolling will be allowed for the man of the house. Another hobby of Jake’s is xbox live. He has not played in months, because most nights we switch on Netflix instead (Again, for some reason it feels easier to watch than do.). Much like myself and reading, Jake has somewhere along the way stopped doing something he loves during his spare time. I am aware that video games take place on a screen, but because this is our experiment, we get to make the rules. Again, video games will only be played after the children go to sleep. They are not old enough to understand the grey areas of the experiment, so it’s better to keep things black and white.

You might be asking what I hope to gain from this two week family experiment? I wish I had a definite answer for you. I’m not sure what exactly it is I’m searching for. I hope to find more clarity during the experience. I DO know I want my children to turn to books when they are bored, not screens. I know times are changing, and this may be an unrealistic desire. I know screens bring a lot of educational benefits if used responsibly. I know they can read books on their kindles. However, I am their mother, and for two weeks I want them to connect with the pages. As a parent, I try to lead by example. It is time for me to reevaluate my own technology habits to make sure I am doing just that. We are giving ourselves a few days to emotionally prepare for the screen ban, and we really want to watch the Patriots win the Super Bowl on Sunday, which is why the ban starts February 5th. It’s time for us as a family to slow down and connect more with each other. It is time to paint more, cook more, make more macrame jewelry, play more board games, and read more books. It is time for more life and less screens.

Now that I’ve shared this challenge with the internet I can’t back out. I’m sure I’ll do some serious over-thinking during the weekend. I’m sure I’ll come up with a thousand reasons why we shouldn’t do the ban. Hell, I can come up with many reasons off the top of my head why this is a bad idea! All the more reason to share! Now that the idea is out there I have no choice but to commit. Accountability at it’s finest.



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