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What Happened When I Took Away Screen Time

As I walked from my kids disgusting bedrooms ...into the messy living room... I became discouraged. I marched onward...into the kitchen ..flipping lights as I went.
I glanced at the dishes piled up. I felt the sticky on the floor. 
I just cleaned all of  this, I thought to myself.

I just freakin had this entire house clean 3 hours ago.   

I started to feel the angst bursting out from my inside my emotions were threatening to get the better of me. I clenched my teeth. The roaring sound in my ears know that sound you hear when you're trying really hard not to cry. Crashing waves from inside my head. It had already been a rough week, and I was trying really hard to keep it together. 

Don't cry. Don't you flippin cry!!! I told myself. 

You did good today. Think of all you did... but it's never enough the other voice says. You can't seem to get it together. What's the problem... this isn't that hard.

There really are voices in our heads... get quiet... you will hear them.

I headed to my bedroom...listening to the girls fighting in their room, about who was going to clean what so they could go to bed...(should have already been done).
My son was whining and hollering at me from a distance. Saying something about how his lamp doesn't work so how is he supposed to draw?!
"I'll put a light bulb in it... just draw with your light on until you're ready to go to sleep." I shut my door... 
Inside my head though... I'm thinking...Well...I don't know son. It's freaking 10pm though...and I'm tired, and sick! And you're a lucky little boy that your mom let's you draw in bed...and even bought you new markers today...and took you out with me...just us...because I wanted to spend time with you...because I love you...and I'm worried about you lately too. 
And you know what?!?!! You know what son?!?!  You've been a disrespectful little butthole to me most of the day.... you never appreciate anything I do! Why do I even try? 

WOW, You suck comes the voice. That's your 8 year old child. You've screwed up...not him. It's not his fault. This is your parenting. This is on you. You've been distracted. You have lost yourself and them in the process.  
Your house is a disaster. Your life is a disaster...always falling apart. 

The other voice chimes in... don't cry... you're doing good. Keep moving forward. 

I tell them both to piss off. 

I turn on the hot water and run my toothbrush under the faucet. I brush my teeth. I wash my face. I stare at myself in the mirror. I look tired. My eyes are red... sad. My nose is peeling and raw from blowing it all day. I don't feel good. I just want to go to sleep. I shake my head at myself, sigh and turn out the bathroom light. 

I start throwing the laundry I meant to fold in the floor. Screw it. 
Another thing reminding me I suck! Something else I didn't get done...just piling up. 
I push my 4 year old to the other side of the bed and climb in... 

I decide that tomorrow will be a new day. Technology, strife, the pressures of "life" and modern normal are stealing my joy. My kids. My time. My creativity. My passion. 

Tomorrow... Will be better...I'm taking back control. 
Tomorrow...I will probably cry. 
The war in my head will still be there. 
But tomorrow, I'm going to grasp a bit more of the lead. 

And this is how it began. 

This is where the wheels in my head began turning once again, trying to peel back the reasons as to why my kids might think it's okay to be so disrespectful, and entitled. Why they think it's okay to give me such a hard time when I say to clean up, or go to bed, or get off their video games or phones. 
My mind went back to earlier in the day when I had happily said "Hey! Let's all work together and get the house clean, and we will go outside and play basketball for awhile!" Chase, my only son, was watching some weird video on YouTube. Kylie was snap chatting with her friends, Lezlie was playing Sims on her laptop, and The Bean, was on her 5th episode of PJ Masks.
We needed to come together and clean up, and hang out! What's wrong with that? 

It took a good 15 minutes to get them in gear...and by that time, I had already unloaded the dishes from the dishwasher,  and  moved  on to sweeping. When they finally got around (after me getting a little upset) I gave each kid a task and also asked that they clean their rooms, and pick up the toys from the living room. 

5 minutes later, I find them back on their devices. And not much done. 
I didn't lose it though guys... nope. I still didn't lose it! I just told them to get busy NOW and do what I asked.
It ended up taking about an hour to finish what should have taken 30 minutes...and then... no one wanted to go outside and play. I had to force them to do that too. 
The day trudged on... One sass mouth remark after another. Not listening. Not appreciating. Not being the considerate, responsible, caring human beings I'm trying to raise them to be.

I can and do cut my kids slack, y'all.

For the most part, I'm a pretty chill mom...but I do have expectations of them. I don't like disrespect, because I don't disrespect them. And I expect them to have manners, because I have taught them to have manners. I expect them to focus and try with their school work, because they're capable of learning...and I expect them to help out around the house, because they live there, eat there, and make messes there.

All of this had seemed to be too much for them, and I was steadily growing more frustrated by the day.

All of these thoughts, and the realization that I was losing control swirled in my brain. 
And I got angrier by the second. Not at my kids. But at technology. At the devices that steal them away from me, away from their own purposes, away from the things in life that actually matter.
And most of all....I felt angry at myself, for not being the parent. 

I threw the covers off and marched through the house...
I gathered it all up. Everything. Tablets, phones, laptops, video games.... everything. 
And I made a promise to myself that the next day, things would be different.

And I drifted off with a bit of peace knowing that I was going to hold to it

The first day wasn't great. The attitudes remained, and the battle raged. But I was determined. 
 I had to ask over and over for a small chore to get done. School sucked...because no one wanted to focus. It was more of the typical that I had grown used to. I stayed focused.

The next day, was a little better. We all worked together that morning and got the house clean. We went for a long walk to the little country store that is about a mile away and got ice cream. We talked more. We laughed together....and we accomplished things. I felt a little more in control.

By the 3rd day... things were starting to feel better. A lot better. We took another walk before we started school, and I noticed that afterwards, the kids were more focused and seemed to enjoy our learning time together. The fresh air was helping. The physical activity was calming them. They sat quietly and doodled while listening to me read...they were engaged and asked questions.  They didn't try to rush through their school work to get back to their de vices. They weren't option anymore anyways, but on that day, they actually submerged themselves into their lessons, eager to learn. 

The 4th day, things went even better. That morning,  didn't even have to ask. They got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, did their chores....and then asked if they could go outside to play.

And off they went...hiking the creek. Gathering rocks. Jumping on the trampoline. Playing basketball. Riding their bikes. I didn't see them for 2 hours, and when they did come in, they asked for lunch, and if we could go for a walk. 

We did go for a walk. Except this time, we took a different path. A little dirt road to the left from our house. We discovered so much beauty and fun! We played in the creek. We hiked up a mountain... we stayed out in nature for hours...and then... we came back and I read aloud to them while they did their handwriting and wrote poetry. The day just flowed and flourished, as we accomplished one task after another....It honestly sounds a bit too perfect-ish ... but it has been happening again and again. We hike, we play, we talk, we write, we learn... and it feels good. 

It's been about 2 weeks now since I took it all away... and I notice a huge difference in my children. They are acting like kids...not entitled brats. They are more focused, and seem to be happier. They work through their issues with each other instead of screaming at one another. They are once again respectful towards me, and don't feel wronged because they are asked to help out with cleaning or laundry. They are all doing much better with their school work, and even choose to pull out books and study or read, sometimes for hours.

My oldest daughter has been devouring several books a week. She dug out her old camera she got a few years ago and has been going out in nature to capture (really good) pictures.  My son,  has been playing with his action figures, building with his Legos, and using his imagination.  My youngest daughter plays in her doll house for hours, draws and colors, and has mastered making an "A" which is the first letter of her name. And my middle daughter, has been drawing and sketching again, a talent she had completely abandoned. She too, has been reading a few books a week and has also enjoyed taking pictures. They all play together again. 

I'm happier. They are happier.

We don't realize how much all these little devices that we have grown so accustomed to, steal from us. 

Our time. Our kid's innocence. The peace from our homes. 
They can be utilized for good, but I think moderation is key. 

Life awaits. 

Cutting out screen time is one of the best things I think I have ever done. I have found myself here before though...I cut tech time down, but then within a few months, I find that we're right back at where we started. 

This time though...

I have decided that when when I do give their devices and screen time back, I will stick to a time limit, and I will be more aware of what they are using them for, and who/what they are watching, and using them for.

I challenge you to do the same

Take your kid's devices away when needed, and when you give them back...limit their time, and pay close attention to what they are using them for.  It might be rough at first...but you are the parent. 

Kids are becoming engulfed and consumed by screen time. 

Yes, times have changed, but it isn't "normal" and shouldn't be accepted.  This is our future generation. We have to instill in them the skills they need. We have to teach them respect, discipline, and what matters. 

It's time that we take back the reins. 

We have to be present.


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