Not long ago, I took a little road trip with my kids. Nothing new there, as we are always on the go. Yet this trip was different. This trip was an experiment. One that could have led to the loss of my sanity. One that could have led to some very cranky travelers. One that could have resulted in complete meltdowns and tantrums.
Luckily, the road trip took the complete opposite turn, and we had a great time. You see, for this trip to an amazing yet expensive water park in Pennsylvania, I left the tablets at home.
GASP! Yes, that’s right. I left all electronic devices at the door.
As I loaded the kids into the car, they casually pointed out what I already knew to be true. “Mom, we didn’t pack the iPads.” As we drove down our street, their voices changed to a slightly higher pitch as they started to get concerned. As they whined about the possibility of being bored and wondered what on earth they would do for two whole hours in a car with no screen to stare at, panic set in.
I clammed up, cold beads of sweat emerged onto my brow. Was I making a terrible mistake? This could be one long car ride. I quickly threw on the radio, and we had an impromptu sing-along contest. Then we played some I-Spy-style games and talked. Remember that, when people spoke to each other face to face? Well, back in my day, when texting wasn’t a thing…(I’m not going there). Two hours later, we arrived at our destination unscathed and ready for some fun.
During our stay, my kids didn’t even notice their electronics were missing. There was not one mention of the long-lost apps and web pages. They’ve never been allowed to have tablets at the table when we were eating, and waiting for our food was the only downtime we had. We were busy from morning until night, and I’m sure that played a part. They were having way too much fun to worry about it.
In the interest of full disclosure, I did use my phone. My daughter was quick to point out that grave injustice to me. We talked it over together. We decided that I would not log on to any social media sites during the day, but we agreed that taking pictures was a good idea.
I may have had a more challenging time than they did! (When did I get so dependent on being connected?).
I took some great pictures of them on slides and in pools, playing at an arcade and listening to an animated bear read them a bedtime story, and there was not one sour face, not one complaint to go back to the hotel room. It was great.
The ride home went just the same. When we got home, they did go straight for the iPads, but for those 48 hours, we were powered down, and we were the better for it. When grandma asked about the trip, my little one went on and on in detail about the ice forming on a river we drove past. Would she have noticed if her face was glued to a video where some grown woman is playing with toys? (Don’t even get me started on those videos!).
Now, I know at this point there are a bunch of you reading this thinking I’m one of those holier than though type of mamas, and I’m putting down parents who allow screen time. I am most certainly not.
There is a most definite time and place for screen time. When I need a minute to shower in peace…screen time. When I’ve had a super long, lousy day at work and the migraine is creeping across my forehead…screen time. When I want a little quiet just for the sake of peace and quiet…screen time.
I love some of the apps out there and educationally speaking, I think sometimes screen time can be a fun way to reinforce math skills, learn about something new, and even practice handwriting. So, no, I’m not turning into a “sanctamommy” this time.
Instead, I want you to know that it IS possible. It is more than possible to leave those electronics at home and reset your family’s idea of entertainment and fun.
I was glad to have tried it. Just give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, yeah, it could get a little ugly. But, if it does, isn’t that just a clue that we are too dependent on our screens? You may realize that you don’t need to cart a tablet with you everywhere you go. I’m planning a couple of getaways for the upcoming year, and I know I will have a lot to pack, but electronics won’t be on the list.