In the past few weeks, I have learned a lot about my children.
Summer has begun, and aside from Vacation Bible School, we haven’t really had anything planned.
No lessons. No camps. No scheduled anything besides play dates and chores. And we have scaled way back on how much tech time the girls get, too.
It’s been a boring, low-tech summer, and it’s been incredibly eye-opening to me as their mother.
My girls are pretty typical kids. They love to play, create, read, and they love their technology. Screen time has become a huge issue, and one that I have been trying to combat.
This summer I decided to implement a new screen time guideline: it’s a last resort. A special treat. The dessert on the menu of play.
I expected a lot of push back since my kids are addicts. Bona-fide addicts y’all.
However, it has gone much better than I expected.
*Now, I don’t want you thinking we are at all perfect at this no-screen-time thing. Because we so aren’t. I still allow it after 3 because mama is tired. Summertime is exhausting. It’s a fantastic, sore-muscles, aching-bones, sun-kissed exhaustion, but exhaustion nonetheless.
So far this summer, we have participated in Vacation Bible School, hit the splash pad, had play dates, visited the zoo, suffered one broken arm, and had hours of boredom.
Boredom has been the catalyst for a lot already this summer.
As I write this, I have a four-year-old swinging (she learned to pump all by herself this summer!) in the backyard, singing Christmas carols at the top of her lungs.
My seven-year-old has designed paper clothes for her Barbies.
My nine-year-old has read several books.
They have all helped their grandfather plant and maintain a large garden.
They have created fairy gardens, completed yard work, run through the sprinklers, and just hung out together.
So, what I have learned since starting our boring, low-tech summer?
Less technology makes them better sisters.
When Eleanor (my middle daughter) fell off her scooter at the splash pad last week and broke her arm, I saw my girls come together in an amazing way. Our trip was cut short, and instead of complaining and whining about leaving, my oldest and youngest girls helped clean up, carried all of our supplies while I carried Eleanor, and cried when their sister cried. They were so empathetic and focused on their injured sister, it was touching and inspiring to me.
I find them playing together a lot. Building with Legos, creating art projects, singing and dancing, pushing each other on the swings or creating obstacle courses in the back yard. And it’s not after I have told them to go play together; they are just doing it! It’s been amazing!
Less technology means less fighting
I swear, my kids fight over tech more than anything else. When there’s no screen involved, they are almost never yelling at each other, almost never using that whiny voice (that I can’t stand), and they are working together more instead of fighting over who gets to pick the next show.
Less technology means better work ethic
My kids did chores yesterday…without any argument. None. They just put their noses to the grindstone and did the work. Together, I might add. Without stalling or trying to get out of it. They cleaned their bathroom, cleaned their rooms, vacuumed the living room, and cleaned up after the dog – and then ran out back to play together! I’ve known these kids for a long time and never in their lives have they just worked.
My girls have really grown a lot this summer, and I attribute a lot of that to being bored.
Without a ton of tech and schedules busying up their lives, they are finding ways to fill the lazy hours of summer on their own. And while they are at it, we are all learning so much!
They are learning about how things grow.
They are learning how to keep a house (hey, it’s important!).
They are learning how to cooperatively play with each other.
They are learning how to compromise.
They are learning that they don’t always need someone to tell them what to do – they can come up with their own entertainment.
I have learned more about how much they love each other.
I have learned all of their favorite songs.
I have learned that my girls have amazing style.
I have learned that they are capable of so much more than I ever knew.
I have learned that my girls have the craziest, weirdest, coolest imaginations.
I have learned that they are going to be OK. Even with the occasional teach-heavy day.
How we are doing it
Since my girls and I love lists, I created this sheet to help us all stay on track. They have been picking at least one activity from each category before they come in from the heat and get their screen time.
Full disclosure: I modeled this list off of activities I witnessed them performing the first week of summer. This is not a Mom model, this is 100% Kid Inspired.
(Need some inspiration for what types of chores your kids can be doing? I’ve got some ideas for you here.)
You can do it, too!
For your convenience, I have included a printable version that you can customize to meet your family’s needs! You can download it here.
Give it a try, and come back to tell us what you learned about your children when you cut down on technology.