I’m not a huge TV person by choice. I’ve been moving our family slowly away from time spent in front it — no huge TV, just a tiny one. No cable. Intentional choices to do anything but that. Usually it’s not that hard since we run a pretty busy schedule. Evenings are normally spent at small group, dance, Awana, or soccer. If we have a free night, I’m working at our Allstate agency – but that’s where it gets dicey. I feel guilty for sucking up our family time at work and my hubby has cable at the office (and a pretty big TV) so while I talk to clients for hours, my kids essentially binge on stupid Disney shows that teach them how to be sarcastic and rude. I can just picture them a decade down the road in their college dorm rooms, binge watching Netflix and filling their minds with garbage that they can never un-see, all because I started terrible habits in their formative years.
On the other hand, I am a teensy bit addicted to social media. My kids have been annoyed many times because my cell phone gobbles up the bits of time in my day between all the other stuff. They feel like they are vying for my attention while I’m uploading pictures of what we just did, or a funny soundbite. Not that I don’t think it’s a valuable way to stay connected, but I saw that it was causing a break in the connectedness with my kids.
Enter the media fast. Christmastime always brings a fast of some sort in our house. This December was screen time. I talked to my kids for a couple weeks in advance, warning them of what was to come. No TV, no video games, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Pinterest (except to get a recipe or craft project I had already pinned in advance), no internet except to look up things we really needed. No random surfing. I seriously adore my kids. They took this like champs! While there were skirmishes when determining the rules of the month, and one meltdown mid month, they were amazing. They had the most beautiful attitudes toward my crazy, counter cultural idea. I have tears just thinking about it! Anyway, the ground rules were set. We would have 3 pre-planned nights of television – 1 Spartans game, 2 Christmas movie nights. That has been adapted a tiny bit since the Spartans made it to the Cotton bowl and they play tonight – Dec 31st. We are totally watching them! The kids wanted to know what they should do if they are at friends’ houses. We determined that they should try to do play as much as they could first; however, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if a screen entered the picture. Over Christmas we were guests in people’s homes, so we determined that gratitude and relationships trumped media fast, so they would choose other activities first but not exclude themselves from screen time. Continue reading