A screen free vintage vacation, mostly! by Sarah Jarman @saspsdesigns
Summer. Endless days, adventures, laughter, the summer holidays conjure up images resembling the pages of a classic novel. I see the Famous Five, mid escapade, Lucy, entering Narnia, and five children finding 'It' on the beach. While I love the notion, are our summer days really like this? We are one week into the holidays and I feel shamed to say I am wondering if 'screen time' has taken precedence over our adventures?
When it comes to screen time I am one of the stricter parents. My children don't have individual I Pads, we have one television (and it is absolutely no where near a bedroom) and they will not be allowed mobile phones until they are much older. However, even I feel alarmed at the relative ease in which I pass my kids a screen. Five thirty AM, as they stroll into my room (completely obvious to the fact that I would love a lie in given there are no school runs) I hand them Netflix on a screen in the hope I can prolong getting up by at least thirty minutes. A rainy afternoon? Sure, stick on a movie! Fighting as I make supper? Look Sarah and Duck is on. I don't want to add up our adventure time and compare it to screen time as I am worried screen time may win.
Whilst screen time may exist in the hope of making our lives easier, it has started to occur to me that perhaps, it really doesn't. As our TV viewing has increased since the start of the holidays, so has my daughter's negative attitude. There is answering back, name calling and eye rolling. I could point the finger, blame school, or peers. However, in honesty, the only person I can really blame is myself. When she logs in to Netflix she is inevitably logging into materialistic Barbie, stroppy 'H2O' teenagers and 'Horrid Henry' (the problem is in the name). I can't really act surprised when her virtual heros are far from the role models I want her to have.
Following a late evening back-lash from said daughter, I put my foot down and bought an end to screen time. No phones, I Pads and absolutely NO NETFLIX. And you know what? Twenty four hours in and I am seeing the results already. Instead of screens at 5.30 am, they were handed books. To my delight I had an extra hour in bed! As they flicked through pictures my six year old took it upon herself to read to the toddler, 'would you like another story?' 'Oh yes please.' I, myself, had suddenly been transported to a 1950s children's book. The rest of the day continued in the same manner. Because I hadn't been kicked in the head for an hour as they fought over which program to watch, I got up in a good mood, so made a huge cooked breakfast, setting us all up for the day. As we had lots of energy after hot food, instead of soggy cereal, we thought nothing of gathering a picnic, taking our fishing nets and spending the day near the local stream. Tired, wet and muddy but happy, we returned home, none of us thinking about TV, or rushing to a screen. Instead we talked about 'almost' catching a tiddler, about the dog ending up in the stream, about how the cake was our favourite bit of the picnic. We really gave the Famous Five a run for their money.
I don't think being totally screen free will happen. I expect next time it rains solidly for forty eight hours we will all be snuggling up with hot chocolate in front of Nanny McPhee - and you know what? I don't see anything wrong with that. But for now, while the sun is shining (sort of), we shall be enjoying a slightly more vintage vacation, a summer like the one I had always envisaged, and I can't wait to have some adventures with my kids.