Screen Free Week, May 1-7

Individual Therapy Sterling, VA

As a busy mom, I find myself relying on letting my kids watch a quick episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates to be able to wash the dishes, fold a load of laundry, or get myself pulled together before work — it’s an easy way to keep my them entertained and get a few minutes of peace and quiet. My husband and I also find ourselves falling into the habit of using TV as a way to relax together at the end of the day (and hey, we’ve still got a few episodes of Scandal to catch up on…)

But what if we challenged ourselves to turn those devices off for a while and see what happens? What new ways of passing time, connecting with each other, and experiencing the world might we discover? This week is Screen Free Week, and an opportunity to do just that. It also happens to be Children’s Book Week, providing a convenient alternative to screen time for your little ones. There is lots of research to support the notion that too much screen time is bad for kids, teens, and adults alike. Negative effects include decreases in cognitive performance, eye strain, increased risk of obesity and diabetes, inhibited emotional development, and even a shortened life span. There are also social consequences of screen addiction that are particularly problematic for tweens and teens.

A few months ago, we made the decision to cancel our cable service. And you know what? I was nervous  about it! How weird is that? I thought I’d really miss having a DVR full of my favorite shows to watch while getting through mundane household tasks or when I just want to kick back and relax at the end of a long day when my kids are finally asleep. But guess what — we haven’t missed it AT ALL. I know it’s only a small step toward becoming less reliant on digital media consumption, but it feels really good. I’m excited to find other ways to challenge myself in this arena.

So most of us can agree that taking a break from our phones, tablets, and TVs is a good idea. But what are we going to do instead? Here are some ideas to get you started (there are some duplicates between the three lists):

For anyone:

  • Work on an art project
  • Read a book
  • Go on a picnic
  • Go on a hike
  • Visit the library
  • Go for a bikeride
  • Take a class at your gym
  • Write a letter to your Congressperson or Senator about a cause you believe in
  • Offer to help a neighbor who needs it
  • Play a game
  • Clean out closets and donate unneeded items to a worthy charity
  • Prepare a meal with loved ones
  • Attend a religious service (bonus points if it’s a religion that’s new to you!)
  • Discover and listen to a new podcast
  • Take a nap (ah, sleep!)
  • Plan a vacation

For Kids

  • Make and send a homemade card to a loved one
  • Make cookies together
  • Play a game together
  • Play tag or hide and seek outside
  • Climb trees
  • Sing songs
  • Turn on music and have a dance party
  • Blow bubbles
  • Build a blanket fort

For Couples

  • Take turns reading aloud to each other from a book you both enjoy
  • Go out to a new coffee shop
  • Walk around downtown and discover new places together. Hold hands while you do it!
  • Go to a live sports event or musical performance
  • Re-create your first date
  • Do something adventurous together. Indoor skydiving, anyone?
  • Have sex!

What other ideas do you have for this year’s Screen Free Week? Let us know in the comments!

Lindsey Hoskins provides couple, family, and individual therapy in both the Sterling, VA and Bethesda, MD offices. Email lindsey@lindseyhoskins.com or call 703-951-6409 today to set up your first appointment, or a complimentary telephone consultation!