Monday, April 25, 2011

how did screen-free week go?

So, here we are at the other end of Screen Free week. I would love to hear from you - how did it go for you and your family?

I know for us, it was a bit challenging. I also found it very helpful - I was really able to see and lean into the feelings that lead me to want to be online and spaced out, to disconnect. Feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, boredom, loneliness. It was so helpful to touch those and just lean into them, letting them dissipate, rather than covering them up or pushing them away with a screen. So much more space seemed to open up.

It was hard for my toddler to not watch his daily video. And it was hard for me to be with how hard it was for him. I felt guilty for having allowed him to develop this habit of tuning out. And I also noticed just how hard it is for me to just be with my children when they are unhappy, rather than trying to make it all better. That was very sparky and rich for me to notice. Why can't I just be with him when he is screaming for a video? Why can't I open to that? Why do I just want to either run away from that or somehow, anyhow make it go away?

And on Saturday, during our big buddhist easter party, I actually let him watch some Maisy Mouse. We were supposed to have an easter egg hunt outside, but the weather was rainy and very cold, so we were all indoors instead. He was stressed out from all the children and grown ups in our apartment and needed his space. I would usually never allow him to watch a video while others were here, and I did remember we were still supposed to be screen free, but in this case, it actually felt like the right, nurturing thing to do. He needed to sit in his little chair and get some distance from the proceedings in order to feel ok. He ended up ultimately going into our bedroom with me and nursing and sleeping for the rest of the party, after repeating to me that he only wants "two friends" over from now on. Ahem. Mama overdid it in the party planning. Good to notice that, as well.

Like with most things, we can use our screens mindfully, in conscious ways. The challenge is in the insidious creep of it all, the magnetizing energy that keeps us attached to our videos, status updates, 4square locations, youtube, etc. and threatens to completely draw us and our children in. It was amazing to me to notice just how many times a day I really felt drawn to the computer, really wanting to just pop online to check my email...or the weather...or that recipe I could use...or to see how that blog I read is doing ...I held back, but sometimes, it was really, really hard! So similar to our thoughts in sitting meditation, and how fascinated we can get by them, completely forgetting the present moment. Our unwillingness to just be here, right now, is so interesting, so exhausting, and so sad sometimes. It causes us so much sorrow.

It helped when I noticed how much more energized I felt during the day and night, having not spent those countless little moments tuning in and tuning out. I never spend huge blocks of time online, but those little moments really add up! My aspiration now is to continue to use media more mindfully, more consciously, and not just go with the impulse to go online. It's like an itch that I don't necessarily need to scratch right away, or at all.

So, how did it go for you?


  1. My original plan had been to keep Alexander tv free for the week, and to stay off-line as much as possible myself during the day. Originally I was planning to leave the computer on in the background since that is my main way to communicate with my husband during the day, but when Alexander would see it he'd ask for videos, so I shut it off. It was amazing to me to realize how much just having it there sucked me in, and how much more attention I paid to Alexander when it wasn't on. The difference between sitting on the couch nursing Westley and "just checking e-mail real quick honey" or sitting on the couch nursing Westley and watching him play. And it was amazing how many more books he brought to me and asked me to read - normally he only asks for books at naptime/bedtime. It was definitely a good exercise. Now I think twice before turning on the tv to distract him so I can get something done, and try to use it much more strategically. (Like yesterday when we needed 101 Dalmations to get through a rainy morning when he'd gotten up an hour and a half earlier than normal.)

  2. I did the best I could. I'm glued to my screen for work purposes and I communicate with our nanny daily through texts and iPhone pictures of my baby. But I tried to be mindful in not using screens in the precious moments I do have at home with my son. And it was really hard at times, but totally worthwhile. Both my husband and son were sick all week, so when Rhys went to bed, chris wanted to sack out and watch a little tv and I totally understood that. Now I am really aware when I'm glued to the screen instead of my son or husband and how painful it can be to just be present sometimes. I'm expiring why it is that I equate "tuning out" with relaxing. We did cancel cable recently, which I think is really helpful in terms of tv. But tv is not the real distraction in our house - it's the computers and smartphones! I'm committing to do a concious reduction for a week each month to explore these issues further!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I definitely can relate to what you both shared. Definitely also committing to a conscious reduction each month as well. xxoo