We are putting our kids on “screen detox” the week before spring break. Why? The week before any vacation is a sticky trap for us, full of wandering minds envisioning the fun just ahead and growing impatience for the tasks still insistently at hand. So far, it always ends up being a chaotic week full of bad grades and bad attitudes.
Couple that with the comforting distraction that video games and iPads provide (emphasis on distraction), and you have an exponentially more stressful week before and sorrowful week after your beloved break. No one wants to go back to school the week after spring break and find a stack of bad grades from the week before break when you were distracted.
This year? We’re trying a different approach. This year, we’re going screen-free the week before spring break.
Your kids can probably spend hours on the iPad or playing video games without any problems, but ours definitely have a limit for how much screen time they can tolerate before suffering ill effects.
We can tell they’ve been watching a screen too long when they start growing impatient and can’t seem to focus on what we’re saying or what they’re supposed to be doing. We know we’ve wandered over the invisible line of “appropriate screen time amounts” when they start rough-housing too much or snap at us or each other. We have regular time limits set for their screen time each day, but sometimes even those allotted hours seem to build up to a pressure point.
As soon as they start fussing against shutting down their game, we know it’s definitely time to shut down their game.
It took us a while to notice but the week before a school break always exacerbates this wasteland of tempers and inevitably results in a trickle of bad grades to be discovered the week after we go back to school. If they were having trouble focusing at home, you can bet they were having trouble focusing at school.
So we’re putting the screens away for a full week before break this year. When I told the kids about the plan, they didn’t even blink.
We were on our way to school, had experienced a bumpy morning, and I decided right then to try a new approach in advance of what I was beginning to recognize as a rough week. As soon as I announced the detox, the boys nearly exhaled in agreement. Seven and nine years old, they nodded to themselves and said, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.”
Our kids can feel when pressure begins to build inside them, even if they can’t identify why or what it is. I seriously doubt that my kids would willingly volunteer to put their iPads away for a week, but they knew a pressure release when they saw one. It was a tangible relief to an intangible stressor.
A week of no video games, no iPads, no computer games. A week of wrapping up homework, maintaining chores without distraction of beating just one more level of a favorite game, creative play in their free time, and clearing the path to a relaxing break from school.
Will it work? I’ll let you know. I’m hoping it will. Will I let them go back to their screens on spring break? Yep. And since I still have to work during that week, they’ll probably overdose a little before I get them back to minding their limits. It happens. All the more reason for a week of detox.
Consider it Mardi Gras and Lent, in reverse order.
Wish us luck.
Do you ever put your kids on a form of screen detox? Think it might work to foster focus the week before school breaks?
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