I’m back! After an entire week of being unplugged for Screen-Free Week, which as you may know scared the bejeepers out of me. This is the first time I have logged into my blog in a week and it seems like it’s been a year. My husband was out of town so it was just me and the kids unplugging. We had no Netflix, no videos in the car, no iPhone, no computer time, and I was sans my blog, Twitter, and Facebook. The hardest part for me was the two or three days leading up to us all unplugging – I had become so emotionally dependent on my online life that I backed out at the last minute. I told myself I would only have my kids do it. My blog needed me. Facebook needed me. And what about my Tweepies?
As Screen-Free Week approached I realized that the idea of unplugging disturbed me so much that this meant I was addicted to screens. So there was no question: I would go cold turkey along with my kids. No late-night blogging after they had gone to sleep. No quick Tweets to let everybody know I am still alive.
So before I logged off, I Googled “blog addiction rehab,” and found this:
Before I nodded off to sleep I told myself that if things got really bad – that I could go to blog rehab and find serenity amid the green mountains of Vermot.
The first morning of Screen-Free Week went badly. Fi is an early-bird so she always wakes up before the rest of us. I woke to her standing beside my bed saying the first words of the day, “Computer – computer – computer,” – repeating it like a mantra, whispering it into my ear. I had hidden the laptop under my bed. I replied: “Screen-free week,” to which she replied: “Nooooo!” So within the first few moments of the first day I realized that my 10-year-old had developed an early-morning addiction to watching tween shit like Suite Life of Zack and Cody on Netflix – and I’d been in denial about this. By the time we got to the car to go to school she said, “DVD?” and I replied: “Screen-free week,” and she replied, “Noooo!”
I had my second Aha! moment: my kids were watching too many DVDs in the car.
After that it went just fine. We started listening to BBC news in the car and the kids have become fascinated with the plight of the blind Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, and his escape to the American Embassy in China. As a mother I find this much more palatable than a discussion of whether Shaggy and Scooby eat too many submarine sandwiches because Shaggy might actually be in love with Daphne or something. We listened to poetry CDs, Coldplay, and XM Radio. Sometimes, we talked. We spent a lot more time outdoors, and playing games like Old Maid, chess, and – gulp – hide-and-go-seek.
I was Mrs. Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver!
I felt a strange and giddy kind of liberation – alongside the yucky realization that this past year, I’ve let blogging and online time encroach my “real” life in ways I wasn’t aware of before I made myself unplug. Normally, I would blog at night after the kids were in bed, but increasingly my blogging was moving up into my daytime – my time with my kids. Instead of being outside with them pushing then on the rope swing I’d be inside checking email or finishing up a blog post.
Thank goodness I caught myself.
I’m not gonna do that anymore. I’m back to my rule of turning on the computer only when the kids are at school or in bed asleep, period.
The good news is that in the first two days I mapped out the plot of my entire novel, and spent the rest of the week writing my novel. I have made a huge amount of progress, and I realized that although I love blogging, my first love is novel writing. This past year I’ve been getting distracted from my novel writing with this blog. So now I’m back on track – all because of participating in Screen-Free Week even though it made me feel sick to my stomach, at first!
10 Things I Learned
1. I realized my 10-year-old is actually watching crap on Netflix that I don’t want her to watch – which is why we killed our TV in the first place.
2. I realized that my 7-year-old hates all things electronic and is in her heart a nature girl who could happily never see another computer or screen in her life.
3. Without my blog, I read. A lot.
4. I wrote the whole plot of my novel in two days.
5. I realized how I use DVDs in the car or blogging or screen-time as a crutch way more than I thought I did.
6. I missed Monday Listicles (that was hard).
7. I missed my Tuesday Yeah Write link up, and all the voting that goes on on Thursdays. And reading about the winners on Friday.
8. I realized that I can actually do this: I can exist and thrive, offline. What an epiphany!
9. I missed everybody on Twitter.
10. At least someone missed me – my friends Mommy Padawan and House Talkin’: