May 18, 2019

Why I am Planning a Screen Free Month (and you should think about it too)

Why would you ever consider a screen free month?  Check out some reasons here!
Why am I planning to do a screen free month?  Sensory issues.  Headaches.  Stomachaches.  Anxiety.  Fearfulness. Easily frustrated.  Trouble sleeping.  Poor sportsmanship.  Defiance.  These are just some of the problem areas that we have with our girls.  On top of that I don't want there to ever be an addiction.  So I want to stop any road going toward screen addiction.  

Do any of these things sound familiar?  Are you having the same sort of "issues"?  Has your child been diagnosed with something that needs medicine to treat, but you don't want to move to medicine quite yet?  If so then you might want to consider a screen free month as well.  

Now before I go on I want to say that I am sure some of you are already thinking (or even saying out loud), "Kids are kids.  They are going to be kids.  So they are going to have those sort of issues."  I completely agree.  However, there are "more normal" behaviors when it comes to the things listed above and there are excessive behaviors.  I am talking about the excessive behaviors.  

Also, I am sure some of you are thinking, "Why would you not give your child medicine if it is needed?"  I am not saying that at all.  However, there are some things that can be done beforehand to either lower the dose or to help the child not have to resort to medication at all.  Believe me.  My dad is a doctor and I am grateful for modern day medicine.   

I want to tell you why I am going to try this.  I want to tell you why I think everyone should try it.  I want to see what things get fixed from this "reset" and what things do not.  I want to see how behaviors and attitudes change after the "reset". 

My Story

It started in October when I was listening to Mom Conference.  I started listening to Dr. Victoria L. Dunckley.  She wrote a book called Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time.  I was intrigued.  The way she talked about the effects of screen time on our kids made me want to look into it farther.  She had a lot of knowledge about screens and how they affect children.  

Why I am Planning a Screen Free Month

I decided to check out the book from the library first before I bought it to see if I was still interested in doing something this extreme after reading the book.  I read the book in January and knew I wanted to do it.  All the research she did with her own patients was overwhelming and amazing.  She has tried this with kids that are ADHD, to kids with sensory processing disorder, with kids who are bipolar, and so many more.  

So I started planning and seeing when I could do it and succeed at it.  I didn't want to do it half way.  I truly wanted to do my own study on my own kids.  I didn't want me to mess up at all and wonder if the outcome would have been different if I would have done it all the way.

I decided to start it in June because that is the first full month my girls are out of school.  I can know EXACTLY how much screen time they are getting when they are home with me.  So I figured that would be the best time to do it.

Now I want to tell you the main reason I am wanting to do this.  I have two girls.  Our 7 year old has been super sensitive to sensory things since she was a baby.  We could rarely watch TV with her in the room as young as 6 weeks old.  I am not joking and I wish I was.

I remember when I went to the pediatrician completely in tears because my baby just cried ALL NIGHT LONG.  She suggested the no TV thing to us.  So we tried it and we noticed a difference.  Sadly it was still really bad, but there were moments that were better.

Unfortunately, it hasn't gone away.  She gets overstimulated extremely fast.  She is a very sensitive child.  She has some very irrational fears, some of them crippling.  She has meltdowns all the time and although they are getting better with age they are still very often.  Also some very strong tantrums happen daily.  She gets easily frustrated.  She has separation anxiety.  She is very impulsive (there is no pause between feeling angry and hitting or throwing something).  She is constantly yelling, screaming, or whining.  She has really bad sportsmanship.  She also has some severe stomachaches and headaches.

Our youngest is three.  She isn't as severe as our oldest and some would say she is all around easier.  She doesn't have all the extreme things that our oldest daughter has, but she does have trouble with sleep.  That is getting better with age, but some nights it can be pretty bad.  She also can get frustrated  really easily.

Now I know that somewhere out there I am going to have some people rolling their eyes.  I know kids will be kids.  I know kids are still learning.  I know all these things.  However, I know that I have tried so many different ways to make life just slightly more easy or simple for my girls with very little success.

I want you to know that all around my girls are fantastic girls.  They might sound unbearably hard, but they are great for their teachers (school, dance, and church).  They are not bullies at school.  My oldest gets good grades and is ahead of her grade in all subjects.  My three year old is learning to read and loving it.  So I don't have anything that I am extremely worried about, but my oldest has some anxiety and she is the main reason why this whole thing intrigued me.  I wanted to add this in because I never want to come across that my girls are a pain.  Never!

When I heard Dr. Dunkley speak I knew I wanted to give it a shot.  Then when I read the book about all the amazing things it has done of kids as young as toddlers up to late teens I knew I needed to do it for my sanity, but also for the benefit of my children (or maybe just my oldest).  Our youngest might not be as "severe", but she can benefit from it as well.

That is exactly why I think every parent should try this.  It certainly won't hurt your children to try it.  You can set some goals to see if any specific problem areas get better and hopefully they will.  If not then you at least gave it a chance.

I can't wait to see what things will change.  I can't wait to come up with a plan that works for each of my children individually.  All kids are different.  All kids can handle different things.  Just because the AAP and the AHA say that a certain limit is ok doesn't mean that for every child it is recommended, only you as the parent can decide that. 

This break will help reset the screen time and then help you add it back in slowly.  When I say slowly I mean 15 minutes a week slowly.  More on that later.  It does seem extreme to me, but for me I know I want to try it for my child.  If you are in a similar situation then you might want to do this as well.

I will be doing a series with this topic.  I want to share all the resources and all my tips, tricks, and things I learned along the way.  I will also share what the outcomes were.  I hope you take this journey with me or at least learn something along the way.

Parenting is hard.  That is why it is so much better doing it with other amazing parents.  And YOU are an amazing parent! 

Why would you ever consider a screen free month?  Check out some reasons here!

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