Like many, I struggle with screen time. I don’t watch a lot of TV but I do read everything I can glue my eyeballs to, from fiction to news articles and blog posts and most of that is on a screen. I can tell my eyes need a break and I have the discipline (sometimes) to switch to paper books and a bullet journal to ease the strain. I’ve also started to listen to podcasts while I cook. But those interventions have to be conscious; screens are my go-to. And that worries me because I see my kids, especially my youngest, doing the same thing. Screens equal easy.
My son has dyspraxia (also known as developmental coordination disorder or DCD for short) and he’s frequently fatigued. And while we’re working on increasing his stamina through fitness and nutrition, it’s still a struggle. When he needs to take a break, screens are his go-to as well. But there are all sorts of things to do when we need a digital detox, from painting and board games to gardening and playing frisbee.
We’ve taught our son to whittle, mainly because he wanted a magic wand for a costume and we decided to make it from a stick in our backyard. At first I questioned the wisdom of a kid with a coordination disorder using a pocket knife, but he’s surprisingly good with it and far more patient than I expected. That experiment turned into a neighborhood-wide crafting week, where all the school-age kids were busy finding sticks and creating their own wands. We sanded, stained, painted and carved. We wrote crib notes of awesome spells on cue cards and epic duels ensued. Sure it was messy, loud and frequently far more disruptive to us parents trying to do grown-up stuff than screens would have been. (Tech: every parent’s favorite babysitter.) But it was also fun and isn’t that the point? Next up: taking my son to community nights at our local makerspace to repair a set of headphones and learn to make a wooden sword.