For those following our Summer Unplugged, we're 10 days in and I'm happy to report that things are going better than I expected or could've hoped for.
If you missed the original post on they hows, whys, and whats, you can check that our here: A Screen-Free Summer for Kidlet: How Why, and If I'll Lose My Mind.
But here's a rundown of what we've done this week when he's not in camp. (I'm providing the list in case anyone is looking for how we specifically are filling the time.)
Frisbee (We had to overcome one lost Frisbee in a storm drain. I could've tried to reach in but I've read Stephen King's It, so hell no. Frisbee number 2 has been purchased)
Game night - Monopoly
Guitar practice and lessons
Cook with mom night (he picked the recipe, helped shop, and did 75% of the cooking.)
Started watching streamed episodes The Goldbergs together. We've never watched the show, so we've started from the beginning. Kidlet loves seeing "what the 80s looked like."
Movie Night with popcorn - The Witches (by the way, I'd forgotten how freaking scary that movie was. Kidlet was fine, but I was a little scared by it, lol.)
Lunch date with mom
Puzzle with mom
Listening to an audiobook in the car - Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Saw Cars 3 as a family
Listening to music (we have an Amazon Echo--no screen so we allow it--and kidlet has been listening to a lot more music while he plays with his toys.
Mood: Kidlet's mood has been much improved. He's been engaged and chatty. He's taken to saying, "I love you, mom (or dad)!" at random times of the time. He's always been a loving child, but it's been a noticeable change that he feels compelled to announce it often, lol.
Independent play: This has been a big change in the last few days. He's not just created new ways to entertain himself, he's *wanting* to do them. Saturday I'd planned a pretty active day, but he wanted to delay leaving because he was busy creating a very intricate race schedule for his toy NASCAR cars. He created an entire season of races and has taken to carrying around a notebook and pencil to record his plans for this. Even in the car. He also decided something he can do "when I get bored" is practice his handwriting because "I want to get better at that." That one shocked me.
Guitar: He's new to guitar lessons and before the fast, we were having to basically force him to practice. This past week, he's practiced unprompted and even played some in the morning before he went to camp one day. His guitar teacher noticed because he was impressed by his sudden improvement. Kidlet can now play the intro to "I Love Rock n Roll". :)
Tics: His tics have improved. The verbal one that was affecting his speech is completely gone. He still has a neck/shoulder one bothering him, but I've noticed when he's doing independent play or concentrated play (like with the puzzle), it goes away. (This is a pretty huge win for us.)
His feelings about the fast: The first few days when we did this, he was a little down and quiet. He said he missed xbox. But after about day 3, his mood improved and he didn't mention the electronics. When I asked him if he missed it, he said, "Not really because we're having so much fun doing other things." <-I may have done a small happy dance out of his line of sight at this.
The Calendar: Kidlet has taken a big interest in the family calendar we created to list all the activities. He's coming up with his own ideas to add to the calendar and getting excited to write things down.
New discoveries: Kidlet has ended up liking things I didn't necessarily know he would enjoy so much. When we cooked together (something we've done only with simple desserts in the past), he was totally into it. While we were cooking, he said, "I love this. I want to do this every night." So I was surprised how much he enjoyed the whole process. Plus, the recipe he picked and food he cooked were really good! I was also surprised by how much he liked listening to an audiobook. He has some trouble following stories, so I didn't know how it would go with no visuals. But he's asking to take my car (instead of dad's) so we can listen to more of the book.
So last week I admitted that the first few days of the fast were hard and had given me my own little kick of down mood because it all felt overwhelming. (Especially when everyone's general reaction was "You're so brave!" like I was about to climb Everest lol.) But I am thrilled to report that this has swung in the complete opposite direction. This has made me and my husband HAPPIER. We weren't unhappy to begin with, but I don't think either of us expected to get this big happiness boost from this whole process. It's forced us to relax and do fun activities. We get to PLAY. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy things like puzzles and board games and movie night.
Before this, when I'd try activities with kidlet, I'd often feel like I was kind of forcing him into it because he'd rather being doing ipad or xbox things. Now that those distractions have been removed, having him get into all of this stuff (much of it from my childhood), it's created these lovely shared experiences that we all get something out of.
My thoughts 10 days in:
If you haven't guessed, I'm only ten days in and am a total believer in this electronics fast thing. The results are hard to argue with. And now I find myself wondering why the heck we were so nervous about doing this and why we'd thought it'd be so daunting. After the first 3 days, it's been dare I say...easy. And I can tell you that when/if we bring the video games and Ipad back, it's going to be on an extremely limited basis (like an hour on a weekend day or something) because this new state of things is too good to mess up.
I'll keep updating, but I hope some of you found this helpful. If you're interested in what books helped me get started on this, I highly recommend Reset Your Child's Brain. I also read Glow Kids, which was a little more dense and focused on the addiction studies about electronics. I'd go with the first book if you're looking for more practical advice on how to do a fast and why you might want to try it.
Is anyone else trying this?