Summer is upon us and it is time to fight the yearly battle of the electronics. This is a fight for which I have no childhood reference. As a kid, there were Saturday morning cartoons but that was pretty much it. By noon, your only choices were infomercials or old black and white movies. No streaming services, no endless cable channels, no YouTube content. Whether you wanted it or not, you had to find something else to do other than veg out in front of a screen. So I don’t remember arguing with my parents over the appropriate amount of screen time. I was never ordered to unglue myself from my phone and get outside. I do remember being bored and wandering around the neighborhood or setting up a tent and binge reading library books. I remember fighting with my sister and inventing wildly elaborate games together. Summer was a slow and unsupervised time when I was a kid. Oh how times have changed.
Given a chance, my kids would want to spend every minute of summer online. Either playing video games, streaming shows, or scrolling through Instagram and Snapchat feeds. Books? Outside? Games? Um, no thanks. Super boring. Not interested. But as a parent we are constantly being lectured to “restrict screen time.” And so the summer compromising begins. I’ve tried charts and “earning” time, I’ve tried brides and cajoling. Ever method pretty much fails eventually and I end up with kids sneaking their electronics and trying to hide from me all summer long. It isn’t pretty.
So this year, we’re trying something a little new. Part binge. Part purge. From the moment they wake up until lunch time, they are free to do whatever they want. No time restrictions. They can binge their little online addicted hearts out. But after lunch, they are cut off. Nothing but boredom and summer doldrums for the afternoon. The usual mopping and plaintive laments of being “literally bored to death” occurs but I can counter with 1. You are not actually dead so stop misusing the term “literally” and 2. You had all morning to gorge so I feel no sympathy for you. And the results? Amazing.
Yesterday, Leina decided to make her very own room escape for the family. She spent the afternoon devising clues, codes, and a backstory for us. It was awesome and fun and just the perfect way to while away a long summer afternoon. Kulia grabbed a book she had been meaning to read and headed outside. She lolled on the lounger, lay in the grass, moved back to the shade and just read and read and read. It warmed my maternal heart to see her out there. And of course, I have a stack of games just dying to be played. Now, after lunch, I have two willing victims wandering about the downstairs. Muwahahahaha.
It is early days, but I’m hopefully we have finally achieved the summer electronic compromise of my dreams. Only time will tell, but so far, the outlook is good.