You know those families who never watch TV, play on ipads, and have never owned a video game system? I've always admired those families, but never, ever understood them. We love movies and TV shows and my kids spend hours playing on the ipad. Especially in the summer, when its a crazy kind of hot outside, the TV is on, even in the background, most of the day.
Its how I survive my kids surviving summer. Fist pump if you SO FREAKING GET IT.
But this year is different. This year I've felt the pull of more. There is more for all of us. Some random netflix show is becoming the soundtrack of our lives and I just can't take one more second. And, in complete transparency, the constant drone of electronics, noise, and distraction is stirring up a whole lot of irritation for everyone. My kids end up fighting over who has the remote, what show they're watching next, who is taking up most of the couch, who is standing in the way, and on, and on, and on, and on. Its never ending. THEY aren't happy. I'M not happy. Ain't no one got time for that.
We started with a simple boundary. We cut out shows/movies/games that had any fighting in them. I suggested we try it out over dinner one night and every single one of my kids immediately agreed. Which tells me their spirits knew they needed a big time break. That one decision created a strong shift in the way they play and interact with one another.
But the pull for more kept tugging at my heart. We could disconnect from the things that keep us frazzled and irritated. We could embrace simplicity for a season, while abandoning the false need to be constantly distracted. We could read more, play more, create more, clean more, go on sunset walks through the wash, tell stories, and connect to the world we live in.
So, I asked my family how they felt about turning off the tv, video games and ipad for 4 weeks. In a great big wave of confirmation they all wholeheartedly agreed. Friends, when your CHILDREN think its time to put down the remote and breathe fresh air again - IT'S TIME.
We're about 5 days in and it has been glorious. Not a single one of us misses the clamour of noisy TV. So far:
- Aravis has already made it through a book and a half.
- We're playing in the pool most mornings.
- Judah is actually DOING his chores, instead of just telling me he's done them.
- We're eating dinners together and they are actually TALKING to each other.
- Laundry is getting put away (glooooooory!).
- They are all so much less irritated with one another (lets be real - fights still break out - just so much less frequently).
- I'm writing more and hyperventilating less.
If you ever, in a wild moment, decide that a season of quiet is also right for your family I have a few suggestions to make it a smooth transition.
1. Decide that being bored is an okay thing. We are so used to distracting ourselves so that boredom never happens, but being bored can actually propel us into wildly creative moments. Sometimes the best forts, the most colorful drawings, the greatest storytelling can come from a moment of sheer boredom. Not to mention, sometimes boredom can invite you into reflection. We all need more reflection - taking the time to just BE with our whole selves is essential to our lives as human beings.
2. Make a family list of free (or cheap) ways you can engage with one another. We love to walk through the wash by our house when the sun is setting. We also spend some evenings just sitting on the back porch together. The kids play and we all talk and laugh and wait for the monsoon to roll in. Ice cream cones in the dark, reading books together, soccer at the park, 20 minutes of yoga, collecting cicada shells (Judah's favorite new hobby), a few hours at the pool, a family drive to somewhere new. What inspires YOUR family to come alive?
3. Two hours of reading time a day. Is that crazy? It sounds crazy, but after a few days of resistance, it WORKS. After the pool and lunch, we set the timer. The kids go to their rooms with a stack of books, or one big book for Aravis, and I use that time to work at my computer. They do it, friends. They actually do it. Sometimes I have to bring Judah into my room because he wants to talk about what he's reading. I listen while I work and he fills his head with mostly educational information. He loves reptiles, sharks and dinosaurs. I love that he's learning. You know what else happens during this time? At least two kids fall asleep. I'll take that.
4. Seek out friends. Play with your buddies. Get froyo, go to the pool, get brunch, play at the park, go to VBS. Don't let your season of quiet turn into isolation. The point of turning everything off is to connect again. Fill your hearts and your minds with good conversation with people who challenge and inspire you.
If you never, ever feel pulled to a season like this, don't sweat it. There is no requirement or expectation for how your family operates. You be you. Do what breathes fresh air into your family. Engage with everything that wakes you up. Its different for every single one of us. One of the best things about being humanity is that we're so different. We find joy, and life, in very unique places.
Where are you finding inspiration and rest this summer, friends?