Today is Tuesday. Yes, Tuesday. “So,” you may be thinking. Well, in my house that means one thing: we will be technology free from about 5:30 pm on.
About a year and a half ago, I had a realization one night as I was sitting in my room, playing on my computer. My husband was on another device, and all of my three children were on their own as well—TVs, computers, x-box, iPod Touch—you name it, we were each on one. The nice part of that was that we were each doing something we liked and the kids weren’t fighting. But then the horror struck me: we were completely disconnected from one another. It’s possible that we might say only a few meaningful words to each other in the 4-6 hours we have together in the afternoon and evenings. Yikes! If I wanted to be the most influential person in my kids’ lives, then I needed to take action.
Thus began Technology-Free Tuesdays. I talked it over with my family and got enthusiastic agreement. Ok, that’s a lie. Actually, they hated the idea! I did have my husband’s buy-in, though, so in January of last year, we embarked on reconnecting.
I will never forget that first Tuesday. Hell doesn’t even begin to describe it! I’m not kidding. The kids fought like mad and even my husband and I looked at each other at 7 pm and said, “How much longer til we go to bed?” Think: removing heroin from an addict, hiding the booze from an alcoholic. We were serious addicts who had to admit we had a problem. I can’t tell you how tempting it was to say that my little experiment didn’t work. After all, as my kids informed me, we all seemed to get along much better when the TV was on. But I know that sometimes things get worse before they get better and the fact that things were REALLY BAD showed me just how addicted we were and it was a sign that the experiment WAS working. Ironic, but true.
I’d like to tell you that the next week was better, but it wasn’t. In fact, it took some time for us to get used to being around each other without distractions. There continued to be days when the kids complained about the books we chose to read or the games that we played. And frankly, there were days when I didn’t want to disconnect and reconnect. Ultimately, though, I knew that in spite of the discomfort, the payoff would be worth it. It will be the times reading together, conversing about hard topics, or laughing together that will live on in my children’s memories, not the numerous hours spent vegging in front of some piece of technology.
I have a confession to make, though: over time, we began to disregard our prior commitment to Tech-Free Tuesdays, but it was last night as I was kissing my daughter goodnight, while surfing the internet, that I realized that once again, I’d hardly spent any time with her. I hadn’t even asked about her day; I didn’t know her any better than the day before. I knew what we had to do. My husband and I discussed it this morning, and I’m certain the kids will be ecstatic when we tell them tonight!