5 Days Screen Free- What I Learned about Myself and My Children

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I decided to take part in National Screen Free Week this past week.  It is a week when families turn off their screen entertainment and spend time together.  Did you notice my title is only five screen free days, not seven? That’s because the children had no problem going days without screen entertainment, I, on the other hand, had some issues……..When I first heard about National Screen Free Week, I thought it would be a great cause to promote here on HowToRunAHomeDaycare.  I believe the less time we put small children in front of the TV the more benefits occur for them and for us, the caregivers. First, I’ll fill you in on what happened with the kids this week and then I’ll share my own personal struggles.

My home daycare has been screen free from the first day I opened.  The children learn how to play from their own imaginations and they don’t look for outside sources to ‘entertain’ them.  I find this helps the children become better at problem solving, social interactions and verbal expression.  Their overall state is calmer and more focused.  Since my own children are used to a screen free environment for most of the day, they didn’t react too much to a screen free week.

My daughter asked to watch a favourite video in the evening but she was easily redirected when I offered to read her some new library books.  My son wanted to play on the ipad before dinner one day but was thrilled when I suggested we do a puzzle together instead.

I found the children were happy and excited to spend extra time with me one-on-one.  They loved the attention and I loved the connection we shared during the activity and afterwards.  I enjoyed these activities and I love spending time with my children.  The reason I only lasted five days (relatively) screen free was because I can’t handle my INBOX!

I knew I didn’t want to go completely screen free for seven days because I would come back to a backlog of emails.  Last summer, I spent five days at a cottage without email access.  It took me hours upon returning home to go through the mountain of emails.  I knew I didn’t want to let my mail pile up that much.  I decided to log-on in the evening after my children were asleep for an hour to deal with emails and online stuff.

Ha! Turns out, I can’t get everything done in an hour, not EVEN CLOSE.  I use the internet in almost every part of my life.  Even when I cut out the entertainment and socializing parts, I still needed to pay bills, communicate with family members, blog, prep homeschool and attend to work related issues.  I felt rushed and severely pressed for time.  It wasn’t relaxing at all.

Squeezing several online hours a day into just one hour did force me to become very focused in my work.  I realized I spend a lot of time reading online.  The Internet can be very distracting (a cup of coffee and Pinterest=nice). I usually check email before breakfast, at naptime, after work and then again once the kids go to bed.  This keeps the inbox empty and my to-do list manageable.  I also realized the amount of time I spend thinking about my online work.  Even though I’m not actually on line during the day when I care for the children, my mind can still be plugged in.

It was nice not starting the day with email.  I had no idea what was happening (and that was a tad bit unnerving) but I also wasn’t distracted by anything.  I felt more present with the children and less rushed (because I had no idea how many emails were piling up!).  We are so pressed for time as parents and caregivers.  There never seems to be enough hours in the day.  I wonder how to find the balance between providing genuine focused care to our little ones and completing the never ending list of daily tasks.

It was a valuable five day experience and one that I will continue to think about.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Screen Free Week and how you manage your screen time at your house.


  1. This sounds exactly the way my screen-free week is going – definitely need the after-kids’-bedtime online time to catch up on things – and you are right, it’s much longer than I think it will be! But I’m still staying off all day and spending loads of time with the kids – my posts will be ongoing next week, but here is a look at our screen-free life.


    • HowToDaycare says

      I checked out your site Lindsey, it’s wonderful. I’m curious, do you run the preschool out of your own home or a different location?

  2. This is really great! It’s good to get feedback from someone who actually did it. My family is pretty low on the totem pole of online time BUT now that I’m blogging regularly…I TOTALLY understand what you’re saying about not knowing exactly what was happening while you were online during the mornings…

    You probably do this also, but we set aside a family night every week, eat dinner together on average 4 nights a weeks. Breakfast together is a treat and we try to get the kids out of the house about 3 times a week. Our kids spend a lot time outside playing with friends which minimizes their screen time everyday. They actually prefer that to t.v.

    Thanks for sharing your real life experience with screen free week!

  3. Thank you much for participating with us in the Screen Free Week. Honestly I signed up to do it for me too. I realized how much I was missing those eye contact sweet moments with my kids. For me it’s my iphone that pulls me away from a moment as it beeps with messages and other stuff. Time for a little restructuring in our schedules and learning to say now with blogging stuff too 🙂 My kids however had a great week, which tells me I really need to come up with a system soon for the summer.