No Tech Tuesdays

Way back in ’08, when I was pregnant with Oliver, I heard a fellow homeschooler say that her family practiced “No Tech Tuesdays.” I didn’t ask exactly what that meant, but the name combined with my big imagination and sleuth-like skills of deduction painted an accurate enough image in my brain, and I liked what I saw.  One day a week with no technology. To be specific, no entertainment based technology, no screens. (I had not then, nor do I now, any interest in a day without cars and toasters.)

I don’t regulate screen time too much otherwise. I try to help my kids self-regulate for the most part, but thought it would be nice to have a day where all of us were not “plugged in.” My older son Max originally protested, but we tried it out, and it quickly became our thing. Since then, we have practiced the “No Tech Tuesday” on and off. Some months we do great with it. Sometimes things are too stressful, and sometimes I just plain forget. Well, at least we try.

On one of our “No Tech Tuesdays,” a bored Max was inspired to create a comfy window seat in our old apartment.

Dionna Ford over at Code Name: Mama recently wrote a post about the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s annual Screen-Free week. I had never heard of it before, but I think it’s a great idea. I’ll be honest, this has been a rough and exhausting year with me being pregnant and my husband working 2 jobs while going to school, so I didn’t even attempt the week. However, when I read her post, it had been since before the holidays since we had last done our “No Tech Tuesdays,” so I was inspired to start again, and we’ve done it most weeks since.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m the one who has the hardest time with it! I get the urge to check my email, my facebook, and the blog stats/comments constantly! I’m always flittering on the computer or my phone between tasks to “check in,” like the internet can’t go on without me, or I’ll miss something major.

It’s not just the internet, though. I have the hardest time when I’m making dinner. It’s so much easier for me to cook and clean in peace if I can sit the kids down for a movie or a video game to keep them distracted while I work. I get some quiet time, and they are calm and not arguing. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will also admit that many of our “No Tech Tuesdays” end at 5 or 6 pm. Not every time, and the goal is always to make it a full 24 hours, but I’m not perfect. I’m just sharing that so that if you try this and have a harder time than you thought you would, you’ll think of me and know that you’re not the only one!

I’ve found that the trick to making it the whole day is having a plan. Oh, and that plan had better include something physical that will wear the kids out. We now go to the library every Tuesday. (The library wasn’t an option until recently. Check out my post about how I recently made the library doable with my toddler.) That’s the first thing we do, after breakfast.

Oliver, hanging in the library with his Mr. Tickle tote bag.

After the library, we head straight to the park. Lucky for me, a local mom’s group meets there every Tuesday, so my kids get to play with their friends, and I get to “play” with mine! We bring our lunch and snacks so we can stay for hours. If the weather won’t allow us to play at the park, we like to go window shopping. We can spend hours at the toy store, or even Target, and they know that we never leave with a toy, so they don’t even ask.

Playing dress up at Target

Playing dress up at US Toy

Are you noticing a theme here?

Of course, it would be even more fun if Daddy could always go with us. (at Toys R US)

When we get home, it’s time for me to get dinner. That’s when setting them up with a craft or some other fun activity that I’ve planned in advance comes in handy.

Oliver, finger painting

Finger painting is not just for the kids, either! (I made this right after pledging “Make more art” as a New Year’s resolution…)

Max and I used one of our “No Tech Tuesday” evenings to finish the Cookie Cutter Stamped Canvases that we had started at Charlie’s house. They now hang in our bathroom.

After dinner, the boys usually take a bath and play Legos, then we read books. It makes for a nice, pretty idyllic day, and I think it’s good for all of our brains. I don’t know that I could keep it up every day without losing my mind, but I think that striving for one day/week is a pretty nice goal for us.

Do you moderate screen time in your home? How do you balance computer, tv, game time, etc. with other parts of life?

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2 thoughts on “No Tech Tuesdays

  1. We are orthodox Jews, so for 25 hours every week – sundown Friday til after dark Saturday – we do not use any electronics at all. We also cannot use the phone, turn lights on and off, drive the car etc. (we use timers for our lights, and we have a warming tray to heat up food that was prepared before the sabbath). It’s natural for us, yet at the same time, we often have problems during the rest of the week getting the kids to switch off. Now that I am leaning heavily towards homeschooling, I am planning on making TV illegal (!) in the mornings, and keeping iPods out of reach until x amount of work is accomplished. I really welcome Friday nights & Saturdays, because it forces us to communicate with each other as a family, plus we play games with the kids (and sometimes just my husband & I will play Scrabble), and they need to use their imagination a lot more than when they are watching TV or playing games on their iPods or the computer.
    I love this blog btw – thanks Charlie for letting me know about it!

    • Thank you!

      I totally know what you mean. Even when we are consistent with our “No Tech Tuesdays” we still struggle with the screens for the rest of the week. And I’m just as guilty as the kids. I know that. For us to change, it will require a group effort, that’s for sure. I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet! We do sometimes do no screens until lunch. That helps, but what I’ve found helps the most is for me to unplug, and start doing projects or other non-tech related fun things. If I do that (and I can’t say anything about it, I just have to do it), they will usually take my lead.

      ~Daniél

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