Unchained from the Rhythm

By recently plugging away from screentime, we’re finding more ways to connect as a family.

It all started a few weeks ago when T, in a disregulated fit, hurled his first F-bomb at the hubby.

We grounded him from his tablet for a week; which got extended into two.

I remember telling the hubby what the heck he got us into, because giving T his tablet was a way for us to get time to ourselves. Grounding him was also punishing us! 😆

So yes, it was a hard initial few days but we were pleasantly surprised by how good it’s been for all of us since we reduced T’s screentime.

He was calmer, less irritable, and he filled the time with play. And yes, it was more taxing on us, but the extra time together was wonderful.

The biggest surprise was T really took on drawing as a hobby, spending lots of time working quietly on his sketches.

I love watching him get creative – and he’s shown so much improvement in his drawing; fine motor skills is something the school and the Occupational Therapist assigned to work with him had been practicing with him.

So we dedicated a wall in our living and dining room as T’s gallery space. I love watching it slowly fill up – and so does T.

Maybe it’s a placebo effect or the novelty of drawing – but I like the correlated effect of reduced screen time on T.

So as T’s punishment period neared its end, the hubby and I decided that we’d use the return of T’s tablet as an opportunity to set new ground rules:

  • No tablet during school days
  • No tablet during meals
  • Only 1 hour of tablet each in the morning and in the afternoon; no tablet in the evening
  • Immediate timeout from the tablet for using inappropriate language

T whined about it at first, but we explained that we were making these changes, because T has shown such positive changes and that we would use the freed up time for other fun activities, such as more outdoor play and drawing.

He’s been receptive to the changes so far.

And we’re glad – because frankly, we could all unplug from the rhythm of screens, doom scrolling, social media, virtual worlds more and connect more with those in front of us and nature.

Last December, as a Christmas gift to myself, I finally deleted my Twitter after 14 years.

I’ve had enough of the doom scrolling, incivility and toxicity that has infected social media.

I only keep my Facebook to stay connected with family and friends – and don’t have other accounts.

And I don’t miss it one bit.

I often wonder about the digital world that T will grow up in – the innovations and transformations to the way we communicate and connect.

I hope that T will thrive in it safely and successfully; that it’d be just one aspect of his life, rather than something he’s consumed by.

The teen years will be interesting for sure.

All we can do is focus on the here and now and help develop good digital habits and nourish his days with moments unchained from the rhythm.

32 thoughts on “Unchained from the Rhythm

  1. I loved the idea of having a dedicated wall for a gallery, this is amazing! It not only shows the progress but lets them be super proud of their hard work too. I can’t wait for Baby T to take an interest in being creative like me and her father.

    I love reading posts where people have children older than ours, it gives an insight into what to expect and how to effectively take on situations. Thank you so much for sharing real life with us!

    1. Thank you! Enjoy exploring the creative arts with your family too! And glad that we can help shed some insight on what’s to come. Its one of the wonderful things about the blogging community. 😊

  2. So there are amazing you Tube drawing and sketching tutorials! And awesome beginner sketching sets on Amazon. I know you limited screen time but maybe he can watch sketching videos with his time. My youngest likes them. As I write this my youngest is knitting. Last week they were both knitting lol. Now my oldest us scrolling on his phone…lol.

    1. Thanks Rebecca. His teacher did YouTube art classes during the pandemic virtual learning days and I agree that they were amazing and a great way to have fun and learn! Knitting sounds fun too!

  3. The teens I teach are more hooked to tik tok and they look lost whenever their gadgets are taken away. I am also on Instagram detox until I see the need to go back but we need to have some kind of power over the digital world or else….. glad T is being helped there.

    1. My hubby spends a lot of time on TikTok. He loves the funny videos. I can see how it’s addictive. I browse Instagram for recipes. 😊 But I don’t post. I can see the fun and usefulness of social media but like you said, it’s important to use it in moderation and to detox from time to time.

  4. It’s funny because we often don’t realize just how reliant and addicted we are to our screens until we take a step back from them and can’t use them. Glad to hear that T’s punishment was productive and that because of it, you’re trying a different approach to minimize the screen time to make time for other creative endeavours. T’s Gallery sounds fantastic! I’m so glad we didn’t have social media when we were younger. It’s crazy how different the world is for kids these days!

    1. Thanks Linda and welcome back from your trip! 🙂 Looking forward to hearing the updates.

      And I agree that we, myself included, are enslaved by these devices and it is sobering to think about how this impacts our overall healthy and productivity – and of what else lies ahead for these tech in our lives!

      1. Thanks! We flew back on Sunday and are still adjusting to the time change and crappy weather. We surprisingly had drier and warmer weather on the (not so wet) west coast.

        I hear yah about being attached to our devices. But I must say, sometimes it can be wonderful, like navigating by GPS instead of a map. But there are some obvious drawbacks to technology as well.

        Enjoy the rest of your week. Thankfully the forecast is looking promising for the weekend, which is what matters!

  5. We do this as well – we have a wall of cool at home – for the kids artwork. Our eldest loves to draw – we encourage him to see if he can get better and place his best work up there. He’s always so proud when we so. T has great talent it seems! Setting boundaries with smartphones is so important – not just for the kids but the adults as well. I’ve taken to turning my phone off and placing it in a draw while at home. Undivided attention = love. Thanks Ab 🙏

    1. That’s cool that you have a wall of cool. I bet it’s a treasured part of your home.

      I need to take your advice about doing the same with my phone. It’s practically my third arm and it’s kinda sad. 😞😆

      Take care, AP.

  6. I was a 90s kid and I remember parents getting hung up on TV being addictive. I’m sure parents these days are thinking “What wouldn’t we give for that to be a problem!” Phone addiction is epidemic now because those devices were MADE to be so! I’m with you about deleting personal social media accounts. I deleted mine after moving to Canada. I have gone back to social media to raise awareness of and promote my business and blog, but I found a way to use it mindfully. If you have a clear purpose, like that, it leads to more goals and a roadmap for mindful use, and that’s an amazing thing! The only reason I signed up to Twitter was because I found a great freelancer community on it

    1. Thanks Claire. Yes for sure with tv addiction in the 90s then the Internet. The worries of parents back then. And then now phones.

      I do find phones different because it’s always with us and the way websites and apps are designed now, especially social media, is to be incredibly psychologically addictive. You are wise to have a clear and focused way to use it mindfully to build your business and blog. 👍 I deleted my Twitter cuz I was just aimlessly scrolling. 😆

  7. Oh I sooo love that first painting! When I was at T’s age, I couldn’t even draw something nearly as artistic. I agree with the notion that less screentime is better for humans, adults and children. I’ve been trying to reduce the time I spend on social media, but to leave them completely would be a really big step. Kudos to you for having done that!

    1. Thanks Bama! I love that painting too. It was from school so he had more guidance than just freestyle drawing but it is nonetheless lovely. 😊 I really have tried to cut back my screentime too but will admit it can be challenging when our phones are practically our third limb these days. 😆 Have a nice weekend!

  8. I’m so happy to hear that everyone is adjusting to the reduced screen time. I think your ground rules sound like a win-win for everyone! We had similar guidelines when I was a kid, though with TV/electronic toys. My younger brother had some behavioral issues growing up (my guess is ADHD + high-functioning Asperger’s) and I think his engagement with hands-on activities was good for everyone involved. It’s great to see that T is not only enjoying himself, but also refining his skills–what a great, unintended side effect!

    1. Thank you Erin. It really has been a win-win. It’s been so great meeting fellow bloggers such as yourself, because it reinforces to me just how common neurodiversity is, hearing you share your story about your brother. So thank you for sharing that – and take care!

  9. Oh, this is inspiring. Taking away the electronics is the most effective tool I have which probably is a statement in and of itself about our dependence. Thank you for walking this road and sharing what it can look like. I love the intentionality of your parenting and time together as well as T’s artwork!

    1. Thanks Wynne. We’re all dependent on these tools, which are largely beneficial and wonderful. But as you said, it’s also good to be intentionally about moderating our uses.

  10. I remember the time before tablets. We had a month of no TV and it was one of the funnest times we had with our daughters. We did go back to watching afterwards, but said we should do this again. I don’t think we did and now we are all addicted to screens. It is such a good idea to use this opportunity to scale down!

    1. I think you’ll remember camping or RV-ing into the woods and the freedom of being unplugged. I miss those days. Now I can go into the Algonquin woods and get great cell and data connection. I miss the disconnected days! 😆

  11. Those decisions can be hard can’t they Ab? So many families, and individuals too, have sort of forgotten what life can be like without a device in their hands. Personally I think you are giving T a gift in setting definitive limits on screens. There is so much more out there for everyone.

    1. Thanks Deb. I think you use of the word gift is very apt, because it truly has been a gift for all of us. 🙏

  12. I’ve been in this exact same situation. My wife took away our son’s phone and I remember all of a sudden having to help fill his time. I’m was like “I didn’t do anything wrong.” But in the end, it was great for the whole family, a reminder that we could have fun without technology. A good reminder once in a while. Good luck to you! 😆

    1. Hahaha, I love your banter with your wife and kids. You keep it real, Brian. Technology is fun, I’m not going to discount that, but there are also other ways to have fun, as you noted.

Leave a Reply