The summer rule at our house is “no screen time until after noon.” It’s been that way for a few years, when I realized that once the TV went on, it didn’t turn off easily. It’s not so hard keeping the kids from starting it…..it can be quite difficult getting them to stop. So we solved the problem by slapping down the rule, which also covers the computer and time on the Wii, and we really haven’t met with too much resistance. I truly don’t mind the kids watching TV in the afternoon, especially in July when it’s one hundred nasty, sticky degrees outside. Flopping down on the floor of an air-conditioned house sounds pretty appealing to me, too; and with the DVR we can watch when they want, and skip the ads.
That leaves the morning for errand running and playing outside, before it gets too hot out. Then we tend to hibernate for the rest of the day (though not necessarily in front of a screen).
What I didn’t expect was my reaction to our rule this summer. I was a little shocked at how much I felt the pull to get on the computer; I was really angry with myself, for awhile, for how difficult it was for me to give up my own “screen time.” But then it hit me: it was messing with my routine.
For an entire school year I’ve dropped the kids off at school, come home, grabbed my coffee, and hit the computer. I’d balance the checkbook first thing, and then move on to checking e-mail and other assorted tasks. That’s nine months of establishing a habit that I was suddenly forced to break. It’s not so much that I’m addicted to the computer or screen time or e-mail or any one of those things; it’s simply this is what I do next.
That realization was a great comfort to me. Instead of getting angry with myself for being so drawn to the computer, I can simply remind myself gently that it’s hard to change a habit. Our summer schedule is so much simpler: I’m loving my time with my kiddos, our extra snuggle time in the mornings, and not having to be out the door at 8:00AM sharp….if I can enjoy all these other changed-for-summer routines, surely I can get over any lack of computer time.