I’m in Vermont this weekend visiting family and stumbled across an article in the local paper entitled: 3,000 Miles With the Kids, on a Roadtrip to Boredom. After just having survived a four-hour journey with my 2 boys, this article naturally caught my attention.
The author, concerned about her children’s growing addiction to screens, decided to take a long roadtrip with her kids (ages 3 and 6) with no electronics. Yes, you read that right: no phones, ipads, DVD players, handheld gameplayers…not even an ipod. She sought to teach them to deal with their boredom, which is an important tool in accessing creativity (I’m living proof: my boredom being home with 2 toddlers drove me to write a book)
I applauded the author and wondered if I had the guts to do the same. My boys, ages 5 and 8 are definitely addicts. I dont worry as much about my 8 year old. He has many interests and seems to have a solid internal barometer that tells him when he’s had too much. My 5 year old on the other hand, is a true junkie. Like a heroin addict, he’s always looking for his next score. Every car ride comes with the request: “Can I play on your phone?” Every free minute he wants a screen: to play a game, watch a show, or listen to music (yes, he sits there watching the screen of the ipad as songs are playing on itunes. So sad…).
The battle with screen time is one of my biggest parenting challenges. I make strict rules that I often break and lament that my 5 year old barely even plays with toys anymore. He’s all about that screen, and then acting out whatever he just watched. The whole issue baffles me as I know I can’t banish electronics. Even prison junkies manage to get their fix, and my kids will get theirs. Plus, I’m a firm believer that deprivation leads to obsession as I remember that when pregnant I became obsessed with wine, goat cheese and sushi (and I don’t even like goat cheese OR sushi.). My only option is balance, as I refuse to give in. I, like many of my generation, so desperately want my kids to experience the childhood of my youth, with both its freedom and its boredom. Those damn screens just keep getting in the way.
So I decided on our drive home from Vermon to put the kabash on the screens. As I’m typing these words I’m filled with dread and regret. Once I post this, however, I’m committed. I’ll let you know how it went in my next post. Wish me luck. I’m sure I’ll need a road-soda or two to get me through this one.