The other day my middle son asked if I would sit down and play the piano with him. I was busy writing something on my laptop and simultaneously waiting for a text and said, without looking up, “Sure, son, just give me a second.”
When I got up I said, “You know sometimes I just wanna throw my arms up and sing, ‘Jesus take the wheel.’” He laughed and said maybe I should say, “Jesus take the laptop…” I chuckled. And then I thought about it … he was right. Lately, it feels like I’ve been attached to a computer or phone constantly.
And even though I’m careful to keep it to a minimum around my children, I’m afraid it sneaks in at times. Usually at inopportune times … like bedtime, homework time or dinnertime.
I have teenagers, so our family’s cyber/social footprint is quite large and Wi-Fi gets a good workout at our house. Honestly, I hate seeing their faces buried in little screens all the time. There’ve been nights when my two oldest have been on their IPods, texting on their phones, and watching the family movie all at the same time. It would be impressive if it weren’t so sad.
I want us to unplug. I want to give my children the freedom to NOT be in constant contact with people. It’s exhausting even if they don’t realize it. And I’m exhausted by it.
I can’t even begin to keep up with monitoring it. I’m trying, but it’s kicking my fanny. And I worry… I know I’m not supposed to worry, but I feel like I need to be on top of this electronic mess better. And honestly, my own in-front-of-the-screen time is a bit too much as well.
Recently I had to take away one of my children’s phone and IPod. While I was trying to figure out how to do it without too much drama, I had an epiphany: I decided to speak positively. I said, “Honey, you made some bad decisions but you will get your phone back when these things happen …” Rather than, “You are losing your phone. It’s gone. You totally abused the privilege!” Blessedly, the positive approach worked pretty well!
I’ve been thinking through some things and coming up with some ideas. I’m not sure which ones I’ll implement … maybe all of them!
- Everyone must acknowledge that every electronic is really Mom’s and she’s graciously sharing it with them.
- During dinner and family times we get to enjoy each other without electronic distractions.
- Homework/chore completion will be rewarded with electronic time.
- Sweet sleep is encouraged by giving all electronics to Mom to keep until morning or afterschool.
- Our second floor is an electronics-free zone.
I think it’ll be great to set some boundaries. I’ve come to understand that boundaries are beautiful! And my children will be safer and more secure because of them. I’m gonna unplug and enjoy my children … this is a great opportunity to model how to do this cyber thing better.
I’m belting out a few bars of “Jesus take my phone…take it from my hand!” Can you hear me?
What electronic boundaries does your family have in place?
Sue Birdseye is an author and communicator who shares the adventures she has on her unexpected journey of single parenting. She went from the typical “picket fence” kind of life to being a single mom to five beautiful children. She has learned what it means to be totally dependent upon the Lord and how beautiful that dependence is. Her change of life circumstances has led to a passionate desire to encourage and bless other moms no matter their life circumstances. She has been active in her community as a foster/adoptive mom and public school teacher. She has also been part of her church’s worship, discipleship, women’s, and children’s ministries. She is an avid book reader, a game night hoster, and an early morning writer. Her book “When Happily Ever After Shatters” is the story of how God stepped into her life and the lives of her children just when everything seemed to be falling apart. She hopes that her writing will encourage, bless, and maybe even make someone smile.