Today marked the official end of Screen Free Week, and I am both sad and relieved to have it over with. And in the theme of multiple sentiments, I both did kind of poorly and pretty damned well. Officially, I was the only family member participating in screen-free week, as my teenage sons and pushing-50 husband have bowed out of what they call my “blog stunts.” However, there is truth that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” so they were part of the experiment whether they liked it or not.
Heh, heh, heh . . .
I was able to get my almost-16-year-old son to spend most evenings walking the neighborhood, playing cards, thrifting, shooting hoops at the park and cooking tasty desserts. This particular kid hardly watches any TV, although he does watch endless soccer games on the internet. I even got him to let me read aloud before bed one night. If asked whether he enjoyed screen-free week, his answer would be a resounding “No!!” But I know that he really enjoyed getting to hang out with me more, especially when there was a weekday chocolate cake to be baked.
Unfortunately, my eighteen-year-old son is very set in his routines, and hardly varied from his evening schedule of goofing around on the internet and watching his DVR’d shows (The Americans, Supernatural, Adventure Time, Glee, Once Upon a Time and Game of Thrones.) I gave him ample invitations to join in on our fun, but he chose to stick with his tried and true.
My husband hardly watches any TV aside from some DVR’d international soccer games, although he has developed quite the Facebook habit. He ignored the challenge.
I took Screen-Free Week more seriously. I’d be embarrassed to admit how much time I waste sitting in front of a screen. Yes, I blog, but it seems like every time I go on the internet for a legitimate reason, I end up succumbing to click-bait and a hour (or more) has suddenly been sucked from my day.
I call it crap-look-what-time-it-is-syndrome. (C.L.W.T.I.I.S?)
Day one definitely felt twitchy. Sure, I may have looked like I was serenely laying on the couch with a library book, but inside I was wondering what was happening on Facebook and had lots of ideas for blog posts that would have required hours in front of the computer. I was tempted to get up and do some deep cleaning, but I really didn’t want the week to be devolve into me acting the role of scullery maid/housekeeper. Not my goal.
I did work three days during the week, which means being away from home until almost 8 P.M. My usual routine is to plop down in front of the TV and complain about how much my feet hurt, but instead I read books, took baths, hung out with the kids and avoided eating cake. (I’m trying to make healthier food choices.)
How much did I read? I read three freaking books, while also listening to almost an entire audio book:
- Buying In: The Secret Dialog Between What We Buy and Who We Are, by Rob Walker.
- The Partner Track, by Helen Wan.
- Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession, by Julie Powell.
- The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.
Also, I arranged three social get togethers during my days off, and generally felt like the day had at least 2-3 extra hours tacked on to each day. I even spent one evening cleaning one of my mother’s guest cottages. Yes, I checked e-mail as well as did computer charting and education at work, but that was simply unavoidable. My goal was to stop all mindless screen-based entertainment, not go off-grid.
However, we always do a Family Movie Night on Fridays, which I felt was valued enough to keep. But rationalizations are a slippery slope, and I went ahead and brought home a Redbox DVD of Captain Phillips for Saturday night, as I had a code for a free rental that I didn’t want to waste. And by Sunday night, I was unable to resist watching my beloved Mad Men and Call The Midwife. And since I’d already broken the rules, what’s the harm in taking my Facebook Scrabble turns and looking at everyone’s Mother’s Day pictures?
Sigh . . .
But just because I wasn’t able to be perfect with my Screen-Free Week doesn’t mean it was a wasted effort. It wasn’t a contest with winners and blue ribbons, and I definitely feel that I can carry lessons learned into regular weeks.
Screen-Free lessons such as:
- My younger son still likes to do activities with his mom, even when I have to be the one to suggest the activities.
- I have more energy when I do stuff rather than sit still and goof around on the internet.
- I can read an entire book in a 24 hour period, even when working a few days in a row.
- An eighteen-year-old young man is not interested in my challenge based shenanigans.
Will the coming week be different from the one two weeks previous? Will I get sucked into Buzzfeed click bait and Facebook drama? I sure hope the answer is a resounding “No!” It was very freeing to not feel like there was stuff on the computer I needed to be keeping up with.
I felt free.
Did you participate in Screen-Free Week or even just try to decrease the amount of time you spend in front of life’s various screens? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
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