Screen free weekdays for the kids. We have a movie night on Friday night, maybe some shows or screen time on Saturday, then watch something as a family on Sunday (lately we like Planet Earth and Brain Child on Netflix). Monday through Friday afternoons are screen-free.
Like all good ideas, this one originated with someone else. In September I was with some college friends and we were talking about all of our kids heading back to school and the adjustments that follow. Suddenly we need to be planning school lunches, upping our laundry game, whatever. I mentioned how I struggle with screen time for my kids; some of them get so unbearably whiny when I turn it off, etc etc. My friend Anna offhandedly remarked how they don’t allow screen time for their kids during the school week. We started implementing that in September.
This has been so helpful for us. Instead of negotiating the kids’ requests for screen time on a daily basis, it’s just off the table until the weekend.
Our old routine was to turn on a show after they had done x, y, and z chore. We used it as an incentive. But with four kids inevitably one person would get their chores done quickly and two people had not even started yet and it was a hot mess to manage. Also four kids spanning 6 years makes it hard to decide on a show. I’d need to manage that. Then, by the time they were all quietly staring at a screen, I had no motivation to start the work involved in getting them to turn off the screen when their show was over. Or deal if one or two of them complained or whined about not getting enough time.
Screens were not helping me, they were making my life harder. So we eliminated them during the weekdays and life is much simpler.
Nights off. (Another one that was totally not my idea. A friend told me about how helpful it was for her, so we’ve been implementing this one for a few years now.)
It’s simple. Russ and I both have one night off a week. It’s the same night every week, and we are free to do whatever we want. Mine is Tuesday. So after I finish work on Tuesday afternoon or evening, I am free for the rest of the night. Sometimes I go get myself dinner and wander around Barnes and Noble, sometimes I invite myself over to a friends’ house, sometimes I gather a group of people to get together. Russ has the kids that night and does dinner and bedtime solo. He has a different night of the week to do the same thing and I cover home base.
It’s nice to have that white space on the calendar every week. Logistically, it makes getting together with friends so much easier. I don’t need to check in with Russ about which night works best for me to meet up with so-and-so. I just see if Tuesday works for my friend and that’s that.
Also, as an introvert and someone who has been home with kiddos for a decade- I can’t really communicate how lovely it is to be responsibility-free for one evening a week.
We have built expectations over time. Whoever is home owns cleaning up the meal and all of that end of the day pickup stuff. A night off is a night off, and does not mean you come home and clean up the kitchen. Nope. Night off.
Marco Polo. This is an app that I mentioned last year, but it makes it into bold letters this year, because I have appreciated it so much. It’s a video app that lets you record a message to a friend or group of friends, for them to watch and respond to at their leisure. I’ve had a group chat with college friends since we got together last year and I am so thankful for it.
It was awkward to begin with. You’re just holding your phone and talking into it. Where do I look? Am I rambling? I feel stupid making a video of myself… (If the video thing is too much to handle, try voxer. Same idea, just with voice instead of video.)
The point is that I have this medium that lets me keep up with my college friends on a regular basis. We can’t get together as much as we’d all like to, but Marco Polo has been a great substitute.
As I am writing this I am also thinking of what didn’t work in 2018… Namely: phone use (it was out of control!!! I was on my phone way too much!!!! I am a hypocrite about screens!!!). Related: social media (I read 85 books this year and totes could have read 100+ if not for the black hole that is Facebook and/or instagram).
What worked (or didn’t) for you in 2018?