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Friday, March 13, 2009

A Different Kind Of Sunday

In today's fast-paced world, it is easy to escape to our computer and televisions. When we need information quickly, we rush to the computer. Occasionally we side-tracked as we surf the Internet, which consumes a lot of our family time. I am very guilty of this. Especially when I am stressed, I dash to the computer to "get my fix" of gossip or games. Of course we all need our down time, but the key is moderation and setting limits for our families. We have to lead by example, and show our kids that avoiding responsibilities and communication is not healthy or helpful.

Of these two big time-eaters (television and Internet), for me it is the computer which gets in the way of housework or other responsibilities. I rarely watch television unless it is with my son. I admit that sometimes I park him in front of the TV so I can work on the computer. I am careful about what he watches though, and I insist that the programs are educational and interactive. Also I usually sit with him so we can talk about it and I can reinforce the learning. There are some excellent pre-school programs on channels like PBS Sprout and Noggin. One of the few non-educational shows that I do let him watch is Sponge Bob Square Pants, but we all need a little humor and silliness in our life. And let's face it, nobody is perfect!

Dependence on computers and television takes time and energy away from our families. This time could be just as easily spent in conversation at a family meal or other activity. I remember reading somewhere about how little time people spend with their families today, and I can't provide the exact figure but it was really sad! It said a lot about how screwed up our family values are, and ultimately affects the way the world works. If everyone spent a few hours more a week away from the computers and instead with their families, I think we could make a difference. Is anyone willing to try this yet?

So now I will share some of my own personal experience and how I was motivated to write this article by my two-year-old son's recent behavior. One day, he went so far as to make a "lock" across my computer chair with a string and told me to "GET OFF OF THE COMPUTER!" It was like a booby trap, and he even told me what he was making: a lock to keep me away! He was obviously jealous and was trying to get my attention. I stopped in my tracks and made a pact that day to work on this. I have noticed that often he trashes my house to get my attention while I work on the computer. Sometimes I let him and then find myself getting angry about the huge mess. I have found that the right thing to do is stop what I am doing and get down and play with him. This shows him I care and that he is important to me. My other option is to continue working while I get more aggravated and frustrated, which results in more mistakes. So the next time your child sends you a message like this, what will you do?

I decided right then and there to admit my problem and take steps to change. I made a sign in permanent marker which read: "NO COMPUTER TODAY UNTIL 9 PM TONIGHT. CAUTION: I MAY BE SLIGHTLY CRANKY. I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE!" I added a smiley face for positive reinforcement and hung my sign on the computer screen. My family was even supportive by not turning the computer on all day to tempt or tease me. They were really surprised that I did it, and even offered to let me turn it on a half hour earlier but I stuck to my guns. I was so proud the fact that I kept my promise and of all that I accomplished that day. Here are a few examples of what I did: gave my dog a bath, cleaned up my backyard, swept and mopped the floor, laundry, dishes, made a nice meal, made a car out of a box for my son, read to him, colored, etc...... I just felt better all around!

Sunday has always been our family day and we rarely go anywhere. However this was a different kind of Sunday. Until my son brought this to my attention with his creative protest, I did not realize how bad my computer addiction was. Sure my family complained often about it, but I would never admit to having a problem. Now I know I do!

Often it is the children who are our best teachers. When we pay attention to their gentle reminders, we can take time to stop and smell the roses which were there all along but we were too busy to notice.

I plan to continue this tomorrow by spending more time with my family and less time on the computer. I actually invited my aunt and cousins over to help bake cookies for an upcoming family party. I also plan to make some "Mommy Time" for doing puzzles, painting and playing with blocks. I will report back next week!

I hope I have convinced some of you to stop and take a look at how you spend your time. Now that I have shared some of my experience, I am waiting to hear about yours.

Who is going to join me on this?

This post was written by a member of BuffaloMommies.

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