How often have I sat on my phone checking emails or facebook while the t.v. is on Tree House? Feeling the guilt that comes sooner or later to many moms that have a digital screen or T.V in their home. As mom’s who live in a digital world there is much to feel guilty about. We are almost harassed with conflicting opinions from the experts that we google; pictures on our friends facebooks of perfectly kept homes and happily crafting children; and not to mention all the expert advice that gets handed to us from our mothers and grandmothers. Egad is it any wonder than that we find ourselves in a heaping, blubbering, snot covered mess at the end of the day convinced that we are destroying our children. Sobbing because we are worst mother in the world (all because we let little Joey have a cheezie while leaving him in his pajamas all day with Tree House on) to our startled and confused husband. This has been me on more days than I care to admit.
THE SCREEN TIME CHALLENGE
Since the birth of my last son I have been on an intimate journey with Postpartum Depression. In the not to distant past this has often led to the cheezie, Tree House, and blubbering mess at the end of the day kinda days. Okay maybe not always a blubbering mess but certainly feeling really blah and sad and unmotivated by days end. I would obsess about the amount of screen time I was allowing my toddler and how this would negatively impact her life. I would feel sad about the lack of ‘things'(reading stories, building blocks, coloring, tickle time, ect.)that I was offering her without distraction. Worse I would spend hours berating myself about all that I had not accomplished and how I was such a terrible mother and wife. This was the constant cycle of my day. Television-inactivity-guilt-sadness-self-condemnation-blubbering mess-wake up and do it all again.
Before you start casting stones let me give you some more insight. Our youngest son was born early. He spent time in NICU away from us. A blessedly short time of five days but it certainly felt like an eternity. I truly believe that as a result of his birth story the natural attachment and bonding between parents and child was disrupted. I also feel that all the necessary poking and prodding that left him bruised for days after coming home affected him. Call me crazy and silly but this is what I believe to be truth for my little guy. His experience resulted in a very clingy baby that needed to be swaddled and held almost 24/7 and this experience lasted for many months. Than add to that my struggle with postpartum depression and WHAM a perfect recipe for too much screen time and a mamma who was a mess and exhausted at then end of the day.
I wanted to change. I needed to change. I felt overwhelmed and powerless to change. I desired to be like the woman in Proverbs 31: 27 (NIV) where it says that she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. I felt Idle and I was.
Where does one even start the process of change? How does one make progress towards change? I believe that change starts in the heart. The desire to change alone can be a powerful motivator and that is where it started for me. I cried out in my heart and prayed for the strength to change. The change did not happen over night nor can I promise that it will last forever. Change for me started with a plan. What did I want my days to look like? I wrote it down in the format of a daily schedule and I hung that schedule on my refrigerator. Some days I followed my schedule and some days I did not. I also challenged myself.
I challenged myself to turn the screens off more often. That is it. That is my Screen Time Challenge. Less screen time and more activities. This can include any digital device.
How much screen time is to much? Here is a link to an interesting article I read recently AAP digital guidelines
HOW THE CHALLENGE HAS IMPACTED MY LIFE
I have been changed by this challenge. My toddler has been changed by this challenge. I would like to believe that the tone of my home has been changed by this challenge and at the very least that my husband has been impacted.
Some of the changes that I have seen in my toddler are that she is much less mischievous. I used to spend so much time exasperated with her for touching stuff that was not hers, wreaking stuff regardless of who it belonged to and chasing behind her as she undid whatever efforts that I was able to make with my housework. It was so frustrating. Nowadays I am seeing a much less mischievous girl as we spend more time doing activities that help to engage her curious mind. Idleness it would seem breeds chaos even for the little ones in our lives.
I read this interesting thing today. I was curious to see if there have been any links between depression and the amount of screen time. What I discovered is that there are several studies that have been done in recent years. It is a which came first the chicken or the egg kinda thing. In other words studies have been done that do indeed link the amount of screen time watched to depression, low self esteem, and sleep troubles, however, more research needs to be conducted to see if depression precedes amount of screen time or if the amount of screen time leads to depression.
You can read more on this topic by visiting this link Binge TV
For me I have certainly noticed that I feel less sad, less gloomy, and see less of that dark and heavy cloud that has followed me around for the last several months. I am much more joyful and productive. This productivity seems to have bred more productivity. I have been enjoying my littles more. I have more time to do other things such as write this blog. The long and short of it is I have less blubbering mess at the end of the day kinda days and more I had a good day kinda days. Last night I even had time to shower alone, wash my hair, shave my legs AND pamper my feet a little. WooHoo go me!
Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV) says that we are to meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report. Verse 9 goes onto say that the things that we have seen, received, and learned in Christ we are to do. The verse ends with a beautiful promise that Gods peace will be with us. I have more time to meditate and focus my mind on the positives and good things in my life. I have had more peace and less anxiety and stinking thinking recently. More peace than I have had in a very long time.
The Tone of My Home
I would like to think that the tone of my home is more joyous. The littles and I spend time singing praise songs, singing nursery rhymes, laughing, and being just plain silly. My home is certainly cleaner. I have even managed to wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry a few times! This is a great improvement on my normal system of wash, dry, and place in the laundry basket praying that the laundry fairy will come and fold and put away said laundry. This has yet to happen by the way. The laundry fairy that is.
Last but certainly not least is my husband. I would like to think that less screen time in our home has had a positive impact upon my husband. He has not come out and said, Hey I see you have the t.v. on less and boy are things better, no he has not said that. He has however said things like, I notice that little projects are getting done around the house, or , I really appreciate all you do around here, or even, you are really giddy and I love it. What better evidence do I have of the positive impact of less screen time than the very fact my husband is showering me with praise and compliments. I am truly blessed.
The Screen Time Challenge did not happen overnight. I certainly don’t get it right everyday. I try not to put that kind of pressure on myself anyways. Postpartum depression is an awful struggle and the best things we can do as moms is to be kind to ourselves in our judgments. We do have less screen time in our home and it has had a positive impact on us all. I would encourage anyone who has felt like I have to try The Screen Time Challenge for even just one week and see what things you notice. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Thanks for reading
Stay tuned for my next post Just For Today.