Somehow, with the advent of summer, in the craziness of the first few weeks of June: two VBSes, swimming pool!, lots of play dates, a semi-sick girlie, a mom who had a list of things to do that include the kids' help and our guidelines relaxed a little bit.
I am astonished at how quickly things fell into chaos.
I read somewhere recently that the average American child spends 7.5 hours every day staring at a screen. This is unbelievable to me. We don't come anywhere even close to that. My kids had leapt up to spending an average of 2 hours a day on their devices and it was seriously out of control.*
All of a sudden we were having so many discipline problems. Now, my kids are not perfect angels. They are definitely human and they are definitely prone to sin. This is "normal" for us. It isn't normal, however to be constantly struggling all. day. long. with basic issues of obedience, listening, sibling squabbling and whining. I found myself spending a lot of time telling people to put their device down because suddenly they were no longer asking if they could, they just gravitated to picking it up and playing/reading/watching. We had, as a family, found the path of least resistance and it was leading us to a place we did not want to be.
So we took the kids' devices away completely. They are put away until further notice. Thankfully, my husband was clear headed and strong enough to do this. He sat the kids down one evening explained what was going on and why this change was being made and put the devices away.
The next day was shocking. The kids played so well together all day long! There was one or two minor disagreements that was quickly settled. Chores got done with no frustration for mom. No one back talked or whined all day. It was as though a breath of fresh air blew through the house and cleared all of our heads.
We will not keep the devices put away forever. We believe that in today's world, kids need exposure to technology and we want our kids to be able to function as grown ups. But when they do get them back, it will be with our old firm guidelines and restrictions even more securely in place.
Sometimes, you just have to take a break.
*It amuses me that except for the one of Abbie, the only pictures I could find of the kids on their devices was from Christmas, when they first got them. So I guess there is hope for us after all?