Saturday, July 7, 2012

month of beauty: together

So we've been pulled in, slowly, slowly, until suddenly I've realised just how much time we're spending in front of the screens.

An investment in a new iPad (SO exciting!) and the world of Minecraft started the big slide. Because I could call our time on each "educational," I didn't really see just how much time, and then more time, they've been taking up. It's been hours.

So much of the time has been truly lovely: movies and Minecraft houses have been made, Youngzine and Science for Kids websites have been explored, and juggling videos found. We've played games together and I've learned about the properties of redstone (a Minecraft thing. Very ingenious!) and how to shave a Minecraft sheep. 

But I've noticed how often the kids, my son especially, are asking to go on the machines. We come home from being out and it's only a minute or two before the question comes. "Just wondering if I could go on Minecraft / Dragonvale / Other?" 

It's as much of an issue for me as the kids. Words with Friends is a drug, I tell you. I need to go to a group and say, "I'm Helena. I am addicted to internet scrabble." Add to that Draw Something, and the fact I have internet at my fingertips even in bed, and the whole thing's like a black hole. I've been sucked in so hard I'm all spaghetti arms and shrunken head. 

So, I've started making suggestions, in the afternoon and evenings, when the day slows down and the screens start to call. Anyone for Uno? I say. Scrabble? Settlers of Cataan? Pictionary? Anyone? 

Right now I am craving board games like someone coming off a month-long diet of sugar screaming for carrots. 

(A totally realistic analogy! People scream for carrots all the time.)

I'm asking for more of "us" right now. More family time. Sitting together and not apart. I don't mind what it is, as long as we are walking away from those magic boxes with their seductive glowing lights and clever tricks.

We played Pictionary the other night. When I first suggested it, my boy thought I meant on the iPad and iPhone. No. NO. The real thing. With pens and pads and a board and looking at each other while we play. That game. 

It was fun and wasn't, too, because the kids aren't used to competing and the whole winning losing thing left them just a bit cold. I forgot how stressful that timer was, and how easily you can leave a team behind as you race ahead on the board. 

So tonight, when my boy asked to go on Minecraft… 
and I suggested a game instead…
and my girl suggested Pictionary…

my boy in turn suggested we play it like Draw Something. "Let's each pick a Pictionary word, then just draw and have people guess what it is." 

No winners or losers? Just happy drawing, all together? Imagine that.

Great idea! Thank you, dear iPad drug app! (maybe I was too hard on you back there…)

Anyway, tonight we sat and drew, for ages. 

It was so cosy


  1. The struggle between screen time and family time. I hear you. I ask that no screens be used during the day. While I think there is value and beauty in Minecraft and other apps, there is no drawing, sculpting, reading or conversing while they are on the iPad. I just can't take it 24/7 and I am equally at fault because I spent too much time on my laptop. For us, it is about balance and harmony. Good luck finding your balance.

    1. We use the screens a lot for homeschool, but that has been morphing into evening play. I guess I've noticed it more over the holiday period, when the kids' activities aren't on. Normally we're busy then out, but in the holidays all this glorious time stretches out, and what's calling the loudest is electronic. I don't mind some screen play time, just don't want it to be ALL our leisure time. It doesn't feel at all right. Thanks, Jess, for the good luck wishes—you too! :)

  2. We deal with those same issues too. And yes, I am just as bad as the kids! Only Hubby stands righteous amongst us. Wombat Girl, however, is ALWAYS up for a board game!! We have occasional 'screen free days' and we love them.

    1. Screen free days sound perfect, Ingi! I'll have to ask Wombat Girl what her favourite board games are, when we see you. Perhaps there's some I haven't discovered yet :)

  3. Okay, firstly, how are you on WWF and not playing with me?

    Secondly, we play paper Draw Something too! I write 2 words on the backs of index cards and the kids choose which one to draw, then guess the other's. They love it and ask for more cards quicker than I can come up with new words. Maybe I should look for an old Pictionary game....

    THIRDLY, if you are on the WWF and the Draw Something, then you can be on the Twitter. Twitter is awesome. It IS my homeschool support group. Come on, just a taste... try it, girlie, you'll like it....

    PS - I am Not Inadequate on WWF (or maybe Not Inadequate Deb? I can't ever remember)

    1. Deb, how is this helping??! I now totally want to find you on WWF and play and play and play and forget to eat and forget to um, what was that thing I was going to forget again? And if you do lure me into the land of Twitter, all will be lost! (At least, all MAY be lost. I might actually have some self control… I'm sure I put it somewhere…)

  4. We all deal with the same issues I think. As much as I love our iPad and electronics, including TV, we can absolutely get sucked in. I am cracking up at you and Deb's exchange above. ;) You should check out Instagram. It is quick and mostly photos. You would love it.

    1. Karen, Instagram too?? It's like being in a cake shop—where all the cakes are vegan, gluten-free!!

      Luckily, for now, I don't have an iPhone, so can't do Instagram. And I'm resisting Twitter, but perhaps not for long. Instagram looks just lovely. I would totally join if I could. My husband just joined and today's picture looks amazing. Agh, too many things to love/not love!

      So I'm resisting and being sucked in, both. Perhaps I should plug my ears with cabbage, go find my abacus and my chalk and slate and start at the beginning again.

  5. The modern parent's dilemma- you've described it well Helena. I'm not winning it here. One watching TV while checking email & fb on his phone, me on this PC and boys in their rooms playing Minecraft or STO or the newest, Eve. And skyping each other, bedroom to bedroom. I kid you not. Now that they are 13 and 16, we find the only way to break it is to physically go somewhere. To be home now is to be separate. :(

    1. Wow, skyping from bedroom to bedroom—that's wild! I can imagine it seems like a LOT of fun for them. I think that's what the issue is; it all seems like so much fun, and so you do it more and more until suddenly something has changed. And then you have to figure out how to get some of the "Old" back again. It's something I need to model, then see if it catches on, I think. But I don't want to lose being here either, in my little blogspace… it's tricky, isn't it?

  6. We too sometimes struggle to find a balance we are all happy with. Perhaps it is also a bit of a winter thing, as we are definitely more 'plugged in' during the winter months. Zack really loves all things computer, but is as happy to play chess or Quiddler in Real Life as he is to play Volcanic Panic (well, nearly almost as happy!)I have definitely been more relaxed about it recently as I used to impose more restriction on the time spent in front of a screen. We tend not to use it during the week, as the kids have various after school things on, but they usually play (or watch) for a couple of hours at the weekend if we are not going out or doing something else.
    I think it does have it's place and like good drama or literature it can enrich the mind and soul (or just be plain fun!)


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.