Questions To Sit With for a Moment: How many times a day do you interact with your personal handheld device? Think about how many of those times are observed by your children. Are the number of times eerily close?
Mine sure can be...especially when unstructured and traveling.
Often, an adult's response to boredom is to grab the closest handheld device and get lost in the world at our fingertips. What is it that we are inadvertantly teaching our children then?
Warm sunshine, new experiences, new environments...and technology.
Last week I took the wild plunge to travel alone with my minis (2 year old twins) from New York to my parent’s home in Florida. Our flight travel time was easily 8 hours each way. With many hours of potential boredom, I have no shame in saying that you are darn right that technology saved my sanity while traveling!! Their Kindles became their BFFs in the airports and on the airplanes. Did we take breaks? Of course. But they ate up every minute while on them. As did I (music, reading and social media). It was like a day full of all the sweetest candy that you could imagine.
Handheld screen time was also flowing during periodic quiet times at Mimi & Papa’s house.
And then came sleeping in a new place. Despite pooling all of the ingredients for the "perfect" restful sleep (sunshine, daytime swimming, playground, Disney World, evening walks and evening swims, bedtime stories…), the recipe didn’t go as planned. Their mini minds were wide awake when their heads hit the pillow. This engaged “Go to Sleep” Plan B with head rubs, back rubs and singing. The ladies remained wide-eyed and bushy tailed. Reluctantly, I buckled under tired pressure and out came the Kindles as Plan C. They used them until they fell asleep. A great decision? Umm...no. But in the moment, a mom’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.
After the much needed Vitamin D and “familyfix” getaway, we returned to daily life here in NY. We tried to return to the established limitations on technology, but a hard lesson was learned. It was going to take twice as much work to return their expectations and understanding back to the 20 minutes (maybe) a day of handheld screen time. If experiences at home aren’t meeting their stimulation needs, out cries, “Mama, can I have a Kindle?” I expected this and honestly thought that it would just be at home battles to work through. However, a scarier societal habit found comfort in their minds. They learned to use their handheld devices just as we do as adults; as a tool in response to boredom. This has led to a whole new level of impulsive demands in public.
Once I realized what was happening, I took a deep breath and accepted that the habit breaking must start with me, and then they can follow. The three of us built this vacation habit together so we must break it down together. True, they are only two. But I believe that their level of understanding is much more than we can imagine which means leading by example. I will have to be more conscious about when and why my personal technology makes an appearance, which will hopefully (insert finger crossing here!!) help their bored desires transition from being technogically reactive to being more peaceful.
A Few Ideas for Purposeful Technology Use (On Vacation or At Home)
~Learn to Classify Technology Time Like Centers in a Classroom~
*Literacy Time: Kids-ABC/phonics games, eBooks Adults-puzzles, eBooks (have I mentioned that the minis know almost every letter and most sounds? That’s right and they are two. I attribute some of the success to technology’s ability to reinforce parent/caretaker taught skills)
*Math Time: Kids-numeracy apps and games Adults-financial/bill paying
*Art/Creative Sharing Time: Kids-look at family photos & videos, drawing apps Adults-social media, creative apps
*Music & Dance Time: Kids & Adults-find new artists to enjoy together and let the music flow
*Free Choice Time: Kids & Adults-limited free choice time
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~Derek, Father of 2 and Elementary School Principal
Just a girl with a dream to collectively build a healthy mind space for children, while creating a healthier mind space for ourselves.
Copyright Healthy Mind Space 2019