It seems that I blog A LOT about my kids and how fast they grow up and blah blah blah. And if I am not blogging about that then it is about technology and the likes. So I guess in keeping with the theme here I go again.
I’ve been reading this book called Solitude and now that I think about it, earlier this year I read a book called The Art of Stillness. The thing that strikes me is the idea that we like to call in our house (thanks to a podcast Brian listens to) as “brilliantly bored”. We underestimate the power of daydreaming. Many big companies (i.e. Google, can’t get much bigger than that) understand the power of “free thinking” and have incorporated this idea into their work hours. Give them time to have no task, no distraction even and that is when you will experience your lightbulb moment.
Given enough solitude and enough time, the mind…explores problems with curiosity and openness we might never choose to entertain.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Einstein believed that the daydreaming mind’s ability to link things is, in fact, our only path toward fresh ideas.
The style of thinking that our schools train us to use always silences the bizarre or unpopular ideas that the daydreaming mind might try on.
And my favorite quote (so far, I’m not even halfway done yet and still I feel inspired to write what I’ve gleaned!)
True wandering requires a long leash.
-From Solitude by Michale Harris
Sometimes we pat ourselves on the back when we say, “go read a book” or “go play outside for 20 minutes, then you can play a game on the iPad”, but the very idea of do this and then you can have screen time makes the leash quite short.
You guys, I have this amazing 12 year old (and 8 and 5 year old, but not when it comes to screen time. When it comes to screen time, only the 12 year old is amazing 😉 ) . Anyway, we have all decide to make habit trackers for the new year. Each month we list some (8-12) habits we want to work on and and check the box each day if we have succeeded. My avid reader, who rarely uses a device, wrote less screen time. So far for the month of March she has two boxes without a check. When I asked her about it she said she watched a movie at a friend’s birthday party and I don’t remember what the other one was. But anyway, she’s my new inspiration. If she thinks she can do less, then I can definitely do less. Now my middle, she’s a different story. She has wanted an iPad for every birthday and Christmas for years. The other day she asked if she could watch a show. I told her no and instead she did this.
Now we’ve got an awesome speaker when we’re blasting The Greatest Showman (because apparently they will NEVER get tired of it). Anyway, talk about encouraging! I was like, “Alright, you are never going to watch a show again because this is awesome!” Okay, I’m kidding.
Let me just say, I am so grateful for technology. I live so very far from family and we chat like we are down the street via text and videos. We have two laptops, two iPads and three iPhones in the house. It sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous. The kids go days without screen time, but I can’t say the same for me. They can’t use a device without me knowing what they are watching or what app they are playing and there are no devices in any bedroom. I won’t sleep with a phone in my room, we have a good old fashioned $10 alarm clock to wake us up. It’s worth the investment. 🙂 . I write this stuff because I spend a lot of time reading and have attended seminars about brain development and addiction and pornography and so on and so on. I am not judging, but I am passionate. I believe you can take your kids to a meal and not need to give them a device. If they get antsy, bring pick up sticks and play together while you wait for your food. There are options.
Reading about solitude and how technology has taken that away and so on and so on was swirling around in my head, and then I got to thinking, I was the kid who spent hours in front of a screen a day! In 1989 it wasn’t a computer or a phone, but the box television. My parents had divorced, my mom worked full time and I passed the minutes of the afternoon watching Alvin and the Chipmunks, Muppet Babies, Small Wonder, Looney Tunes, and Chip n Dale’s Rescue Ranger to name a few. Seriously, I probably watched all of those shows in a single afternoon. Somehow, I also made time for Super Mario Bros., the only game I had for our Nintendo. Before my parents divorced, we lived in a neighborhood where we were always outside playing with the neighbors. After the divorce we lived in an apartment that had very few kids around and no adults were home until dinner time. We were your typical latch-key kids suddenly.
I grew up going to the beach occasionally and vacations were minimal, but when they happened they were to the mountains or to the river where my dad could fish. But other than that, we were nature deprived. We spent our free time going to the mall or the movies. Good ol’ suburban fun! I was 32 years old before I learned that Orange County, my home for my entire life (minus my first 3 years) had waterfalls you could hike to. And my first memory of watching the sun set was in college.
And YET, get this! I am not condemned to being a junky with my face still stuck in front of a screen. There is hope! My life isn’t ruined because of too much screen time! You can change habits if you want. There is a world waiting for you to discover it and if you do, you just mind find out that you LIKE it. What a different experience my kids will have. I don’t know what they will choose when they are out of the house, but their childhood memories will be ones spent going to the beach, bike rides, sunsets, hiking and the like. Brian goes out nearly every night at sunset. Sometimes he is rushing off from dinner, other times, we all ride down, sometimes even with bunnies in tow. Occasionally the timing seems bad and one of the kids is annoyed and asks why Dad always has to go down to the beach. To which I responded “You don’t know what a privilege it is to watch the sunset until you can’t. We lived two years in Germany and I could think of one time that I saw the colors of the sky change and the sun going down and I had to drive to the top of the mountain to do so.”
This week I tested myself with a few different challenges each day. Once day I did not check social media. Another, I left my phone in the car and played at the park with Clover. And one day took a book to get my blood drawn. Not big things, but little things to make sure that I am still in control. That the screen doesn’t control me.
“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”
-From Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv (such a great read!)