What Really Happens When You Ban Screen Time for a Week

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Like many families, we love our screen time, and as far as screens go, we have many. From cell phones, televisions, and tablets to handheld gaming devices, desktops, and laptops, we’ve got screens big and small to suit every entertainment need.

Motherhood taught me pretty early on that screens held magical powers. My oldest son refused to eat without the distraction of Monsters, Inc. Nap time was only ever won by the soothing sights and sounds of Baby Einstein. Dinners out and waiting rooms were made possible with a portable screen on hand.

Even though I monitored my children’s viewing habits, it seemed as if the more screens we acquired by way of an old cell phone here or a gifted tablet there, the less engaged my kids became. No longer were they playing together, playing outside, or even particularly interested in using their bodies or imaginations. They were glassy-eyed bumps on a log, unwilling and unpracticed in the art of human interaction.

I knew I was in large part to blame. As a work-at-home mom, I admittedly used screens to help keep my kids occupied while I took phone calls, participated in video conferences, and attempted to meet deadlines. But my husband, a man who can barely sit long enough to take in a 90-minute movie, decided a few weeks ago that enough was enough.

“We need to get rid of all these screens. This is ridiculous. Look at them!” he exclaimed as our kids lock eyes on Teen Titans Go!

“Listen,” I said, “I understand we’ve developed some bad habits, but no screens? Come on.”

“Fine, then no screens for a week. I need to see these kids pick up a pencil and draw something or go ride a bike. This is crazy. We can’t raise mindless zombies.”

I knew he was right, but I also knew a digital detox wasn’t going to be easy — for any of us.

Read on to discover what happened when my kids stopped watching screens and started living life.

To My Son: I’m Sorry I Worried Your Childhood Away

IMG_8933-1My Dearest Son,

The day you were born I made you a promise. I vowed to be your protector, your role model, your teacher, and your haven. As a young mom I wasn’t sure how to be all those things or even if I’d even be very good at them, but I swore when I first held you that I’d try my best.

But I was scared. So very scared.

I had reasons to be afraid. At 11 days old you were rushed off to emergency surgery. I cried for weeks in the Pediatric ICU as you were wheeled from one test to another in a sterile metal crib. The serious faces of doctors and specialists told me much without saying a word. It was these unspoken conversations, frightful images of you hooked up to tubes and machines, and countless silent prayers that introduced me to motherhood.

Even though we celebrated your second homecoming, the medical scares continued. Every fever, every episode, every anomaly fueled my limitless fears. I didn’t know what was normal — or what was normal for you. I didn’t know when — or if — I was allowed to relax when it came to your care. I wanted so much to enjoy you, but ceaseless fear stood in my way. [read more…]

50 Thoughts Every Parent Has During a School Performance

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Ah, school programs. The excitement. The nerves. The music. The little voices. It’s enough to make your parental cup runneth over with pride. But pride isn’t the only thing we feel as audience members. Take a look at 50 thoughts every parent has during a school performance.

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How to Get Your Tween to Listen in 57 Easy Steps

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If you thought being a tween was hard, you should try parenting one. At an age when friends rule and parents drool, being heard can prove challenging. But there’s good news, moms and dads! Deep, meaningful conversation with your tween can be yours in just 57 easy-to-follow steps!

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Does Motherhood Make Us Mean?

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I once participated in a perception exercise with 19 coworkers as part of a team-building program. We were each given 19 small pieces of paper and asked to anonymously describe each fellow employee with a single adjective. The tiny papers were then collected and distributed face down to their rightful new owners. Carefully situating each […]

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10 Ways Parents Have it Easier, According to Kids

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“I can’t wait to be grown up!” my 7-year-old grumbled while putting the finishing touches on his famous American project. “Why is that?” I asked. “Because grownups have it easier.” Oh honey, if you only knew. Just as I opened my mouth to launch into the whole “you don’t know how good you kids have […]

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I Let My Kids Fight It Out for a Week and This Is What Happened

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Author Pamela Dugdale once said, “Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way.” “Quite often the hard way,” is right. I have two sons who can’t seem to stop fighting. They love each other, sure, but not half […]

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10 (Sometimes Crazy) Thoughts I Had When My Husband Went Away

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I don’t have a husband who travels for business, or pleasure, or really ever travels at all. In the more than 20 years we’ve been together, we’ve never even had reason or opportunity to be apart for more than five days. So when he decided to return home to the Philippines for the first time […]

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8 Movies Your Tween Won’t Be (Too) Embarrassed to Watch with You on Valentine’s Day

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Who says Valentine’s Day is only for couples? In our household, we celebrate the big day ‘o love as a family. And this year, now that my tween is better able to understand romantic love, I’m planning a family movie marathon centered exclusively around the joy (and heartbreak) of first love. Take a look at […]

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6 Reasons I Don’t Wear My Wedding Ring

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“Where’s your wedding ring?” my girlfriend asked as we compared thrashed mom-icures, “Don’t tell me you lost it!” “I didn’t lose it, I just never wear it,” I explained, “I guess I just don’t care about it that much.” “Don’t care about it that much? That’s your wedding ring! It’s sacred! I never take mine […]

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