Every day Life
When my kids were younger, I restricted the time they could watch TV. We read, we played with logo’s, we went for walks. They had babysitters – young, energetic girls who took them outside and chased them around. Watching TV was reserved for those times when we didn’t have a babysitter, and I had to work. They did still watch their fair amount, and probably more… but it wasn’t encouraged and there was a fair bit of nagging on my end.
Then when my kids were in middle school, we discovered The Middle and Modern Family. And so we started to schedule things around Wednesday evenings. There were no arguments about completing homework on Wednesday afternoons – that was the rule and was always done by dinnertime. Sometimes I’d make a special snack. During dinner we’d talk about the previous week and wonder what Sue Heck or Manny or Claire were going to do this week. And we would all hunker down on the couch to laugh and relax for a blissful hour.
Then gradually, Wednesdays became just another night. My son started going to a weekly community event. My new job required long days and longer nights. My daughter discovered on demand everything on the internet, and soon we were going here and there, checklists of things to be done, another evening where the highlight was hitting my head on the pillow.
The other day I heard my daughter tell her friend wistfully about those Wednesday nights. “They were so fun… I couldn’t wait for Wednesday,” I heard her say. And I grew wistful too. It’s not the TV I missed. It was the chance to sit still and be entertained, to laugh and hear my kids and husband laugh too. It was our bonding time.
Now, on those rare evenings where we are all home and in the same room, I look up from my book and see my husband scrolling through his phone, my son with headphones watching something on the laptop, my daughter with both i-Pad and i-Phone in her lap so she can watch two things at once. And yes, sometimes we share a funny post. But most of the time, we are isolated in our own private entertainment. The world has changed and I want to roll back to those good old days of scheduled television.
In these days of Tivo, On Demand, On-Your-Devices – not to mention sports and other kid activities - I wonder how many families are out there that schedule family time on a regular basis. I know one family that has declared Sundays as ‘no devices day’. Hats off to them. Who out there has a family boardgame nights? Or gets the family up and out for a walk or bike ride? What do you do in this digital age?