As part of the Bupa Family Challenge we’ve been working really hard on limiting electronics time to two hours a day.
Gosh this was hard, it is so very easy to let the children keep playing with their electronic toys because it gives me more time to do the things I need to do.
Take this morning for example, we had a dinner party last Friday, I was out all day Saturday and we had guests over for lunch on Sunday. Here we are Monday morning and despite valiant efforts by my husband there is much housework to be done. Several loads of laundry, all the dishes ever to be washed and crumbs over all available surfaces. Both girls had taken off with their electronic toys early this morning before I woke up, I was grateful for the sleep in, not getting out of bed till 8am is rather blissful.
It was so very tempting to let them keep watching YouTube videos and playing their games while I pottered around cleaning the house. Instead we put the electronics away, I found activities for both girls, refereed a couple of arguments and have listened to Annie’s non stop monologue for the last 3 hours.
That is the thing with electronic babysitters, they are easier for us as parents, plug the child in and get on with your life. Especially if like me you have children who don’t naturally play, who need direction, it can be exhausting and honestly late this afternoon, around witching hour I will more than likely hand back the electronics because I just can’t deal with the constant need to find things for the girls to do.
I did notice that Heidi is finding it easier and easier each day to entertain herself without electronics, she is building with Lego, setting up scenes in her dolls house and picking up books for quiet reading time.
Maybe in a couple of months I will notice the same for Annie, she doesn’t seem to have that internal world to keep her entertained like Heidi does. Needing constant prompting, interaction and things to do. I had said that Annie could not read Harry Potter Book 3 till she was 10, due to her massive issues around death and loss. However I’ve relented a few months early, working on the theory that reading is better than electronics time, so Annie is working her way through the first two Harry Potter books again in preparation for reading the third one. This morning she had enough of reading and has pulled out a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle to do while chattering constantly to me.
Despite all the negative sounding comments above I’m really enjoying this change. I’m getting to talk more to my girls… or at least listen to them talking. I’ve also noticed that despite the near endless bickering there is a huge leap in social skills happening, because the girls are HAVING to use their social skills, not living in the electronic world means interacting with people, real live people. That comes with lots of social learning.
So I’m declaring it a success and we will keep up the work on reduced electronics time, with some flexibility for sleep in and the witching hour.