We are very proud of the fact that we don’t have a TV in our home. That said, going TV-free doesn’t mean much these days when it comes how to much time our family spends on screens, between our iPhones and iPads. As much as my husband and I want to be role models for our daughters, it’s often a challenge for us to turn away from our screens and crack open a book.
Yes, we’ve set up some clear rules in our home—such as no screens at the table when we’re eating—but, as I wrote in The Washington Post, reminders are often dinging on my phone, and my husband sometimes seems glued to his Apple watch.
According to the most recent Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight 2017, “Kids age 8 and under spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day with screen media.”
That’s why Screen-Free Week—between April 29 and May 5, 2019—matters. According to ScreenFree.org. “Instead of relying on television programming for entertainment, participants read, daydream, explore, enjoy nature, and spend time with family and friends.”
Understandably, in our world today, it’s not very realistic for most parents to put away their screens for an entire week. That said, during the week of 4/29—5/5, when my kids are home, I’m going to make every effort to turn off my screens and log into a book. If you’d like to join with me, here are 6 ideas that might help:
1. Get outside
Last weekend in northern California when the rain paused, I told my seven-year-old that I was going to read outside. Within minutes, she’d grabbed her copy of Phoebe and Her Unicorn and we sat side-by-side with our books. It was glorious.
2. Join your community
Many folks have planned activities in their communities for Screen Free Week, such as readings at the library, or Storytimes at Barnes & Noble. Check out the events at your local B&N (find your store and an event calendar here).
3. Donate books
ScreenFreeParenting suggest going through your books and donating some to the pediatrician’s office. I’ll add that if you have a local Little Free Library in your neighborhood, your kids can donate their old books and make room for new additions.
4. Set up a “Turquoise Table”
On a similar note, this idea comes via author Kristin Schell: The Turquoise Table is a chance to set a head-turning table (like a colorful picnic table) into a neighborhood’s social focal point. During Screen-Free Week, you might set out used books with your kids in front of your home and offer them free to any neighbors who walk past.
5. Let your kids get bored
As Sierra Filucci, Executive Editor of Parenting Content and Distribution at Common Sense Media, says: “I was lucky to have lots of space to roam when I was a kid. I’d climb trees and dig in the dirt. And I read lots of books. My kids barely have a free moment between getting home, eating dinner, and going to bed. Sad, but true. And if those few free moments are filled up with their daily allotment of iPad time, what’s left? True, this one week won’t significantly change their habits, but if they get a bit more time to daydream, build a sword out of cardboard, and open their eyes to what can be done with a few more minutes of free time, I’m all for it.”
6. Launch a living room make over
Surprise your family—or enlist their help—and turn your living room from just a screen-free zone into a reading nook. Cover your TV screen with a tablecloth and hide the remote control. Set up extra pillows and blankets. Built a reading fort for your toddler. Get some new books and display them. Set out snacks and watch what happens!
Are you planning to participate in Screen Free week?