Ok my Saskatchewan friends, I know it’s still a little chilly out there but spring is here! The snow (although we didn’t have much) is melted. The tulips are just weeks away from blooming. The robins are in my backyard and I’ve spotted a few lady bugs already. I love spring. I love not having to put on ski pants and a toque to go outside. I love that the grass is starting to green up and the trees are starting to bud. It’s the perfect time to walk away from the screen and get outside!
Screen Free Week May 2-8
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Screen Free Week is the first week in May. In fact I wonder if it was a gardening mother who came up with that brilliant idea… In preparation for Screen Free Week I was tasked with the challenge of tracking and, if necessary, reducing the screen time in our family. And yes I get the irony of sitting here in front of my computer reporting back to you about reducing screen time!
What kind of screen time does my family wrack up? Well for my husband and I, television isn’t really an issue. We aren’t huge TV watchers and we aren’t gamers either so we really don’t spend a lot of time sitting in front of the TV screen. But I admit we both almost always have our smart phones either on us or within reach. I could tell you that I need to be connected because I work in social media, so it’s a pretty important part of my job, but nobody needs to be connected all the time. Now our almost 6 year old does have an iPad but it can and often does sit for weeks without being used. She’s also not into video games, so her screen time is almost exclusively television. Does she watch a lot of TV? On average – no she doesn’t. Experts recommend limiting screen time (that includes TVs, video games, computers, phones, etc) to two hours for children her age and we come pretty close to these recommendations with Molly. Actually getting her away from the TV is almost always easy. She would much rather do something interactive and challenging. So the screen free challenge really is for my husband and myself. To make tracking screen time easier I printed out this handy tracker.
Timing is everything and I have to fully admit that the timing of this challenge to reduce our screen time is pretty perfect. Molly just started swimming lessons and a tumbling class ( in addition to her cheer class) so that’s several hours a week right there that keeps us away from our screens. We also just started a pretty hefty landscaping project in our yard so we’ve been spending a lot of time doing things like building a fence around our entire property. But even with a busy schedule there is always some down time and the urge to hang out on the couch and let Molly watch TV while we scroll through our Facebook feeds can be strong. But downtime doesn’t have to mean couch time. We get up and outside as much as we can. Sometimes that’s active things like trampoline time or a family bike ride. And other times it’s as simple as getting out the sidewalk chalk and being creative.
The super windy, rainy days that we’ve been having lately make getting outside less appealing so sometimes we have to do our best to be active inside. One of Molly’s new favourite ways to do that is with a family game of Twister. There are a few other non-screen time games that are a lot of fun and active. Like this cool Hot Potato game. Molly’s kindergarten class actually has this game and she loves it!
Hopefully when the official Screen Free Week arrives next week the weather will be a little nicer (we are suppose to get snow tonight) and we can all get outside more. But I know that reducing screen time can be hard. For the adults and often times for the kids. If you need some helpful hints Saskatchewan in motion has some really great suggestions to help. You can also listen to the latest Mom2Mom podcast for some great conversation and more advice about screen time and kids.
Take the Challenge & Win
So we took the challenge a head of time, so I could come and share how we did with you. And the verdict – did we manage to go screen free for a week? Not entirely no. But we did make a real effort to reduce our screen time considerably and it was worth it. We got a lot done. We had a lot of fun, together and it certainly made us aware of how much time we do spend in front of a screen, which some days (especially for me) is too much. It was a real eye opener and gives us some goals to work towards. And now it’s your turn! I challenge you, from May 2 -8, to work with your family to go screen free. And to give you a little incentive I’ve got a Screen Free prize pack to giveaway to one lucky reader.
The prize pack includes the Hot Potato game, The Kid’s Outdoor Adventure Book, A pack of screen and psychical activity tracker sheets and a 2016 Saskatchewan Annual Park Entry Permit!
The giveaway is open to Saskatchewan residents age 18 and over. Good luck!