We live in a culture of screens. They are in grocery stores, restaurants, cars, libraries and lobbies. Screens are in our purses and pockets. They are useful and almost a necessity to daily life in 2020. Technology of screens brings a world of possibilities we only imagined not 20 years ago. However, we all know screens have their negative influences, as well.
We also all know screens aren’t always needed for every aspect of life. Numerous activities can happen without them. That’s how we lived for generations after all, screen-free. In fact, we should make it a habit to regularly engage in activities that do not require us to rely on digital devices. Because screens are easily accessible and research shows too much can have negative effects on our lives, we have to be purposeful about those times that are screen free.
How to create a screen-free space in the home.
There is no “one way” to accomplish screen-free time. But for this particular post, I’m going to share how our family has set up a screen-free space in our home. Hopefully, you will come away with some ideas of how you can implement a screen-free space or time in your home.
Our living room is on the main floor of our home. It is open to the kitchen and dining areas. This is where our family spends the majority of the time. You will not find a TV here. Or a desktop computer. Our iPads and Kindles are stowed in a basket, or on a shelf. Essentially, our main floor living space is “screen-free.” When the tablets come out, it is purposeful for a set period of time. The TV is downstairs and never on for background noise. When we want to watch a movie or a show, we have to go downstairs to do so, making it an intentional time for the screen to be on.
So what do we do for fun without screens?
The kitchen, living, and dining rooms are all set up for connection with one another instead of a screen. We do have an Alexa in our kitchen for music. While it is technically a digital device, music brings us together.
Our dining room and breakfast bar surfaces are frequently used for school work, board games, and art projects. The living room bookshelves are filled with books to encourage reading with various materials for all ages. We have a basket of hands-on toys in the living room that promote creativity, thinking skills, and working together. The office is off the dining room and while it houses our desktop computer, the office also holds all the craft supplies. We encourage our kids to create by making those supplies available to them and allowing those projects to take place in the kitchen and dining room.
How can you implement a screen-free space?
What room could you turn into a scree-free space?
And once the screens are put away, what will you fill your room with to encourage conversation, creativity, and togetherness? Family photo albums? Musical instruments? Games? Legos? Comfy pillows & blankets? Craft supplies? A telescope? Binoculars? Puzzles?
When the screens aren’t available, it’s amazing how quickly kids find the toys and craft supplies and get busy using their hands and imaginations. When the music is on in the background, they start lip syncing together, or dancing, or putting on costumes, or drawing silently while enjoying the tunes. And when they are building puzzles, drawing, or playing with magnet tiles, they are using their imaginations, chatting, and often talking to us about their day or whats on their mind.
Guests benefit, too
When we have guests over and there is no TV for background noise or distraction, we are able to dive into conversation without interruption.
Sure someone pulls out a phone occasionally to show a funny YouTube video, but then the phone is put back and conversation continues. The ability to show hospitality, connect with friends, and enjoy one another’s company without distraction is a rare gift in this day and age. While technology and screens connect us in many ways, it’s no surprise we live in one of the loneliest times in history. We crave and call out for intentional, screen-free connection. When our homes provide a safe space for families and friends to connect, create, and unplug…our community and culture benefits.
Talk it out, make intentional changes
You don’t need a large house to accommodate a screen-free space.
Perhaps there will still be a screen in the room, just choose to be intentional about when it’s on gathering the attention of those around. Collect toys, books, games and other things around your home that promote creativity and conversation. Make those items available within the space. Most importantly, talk together about what this space will look like. You as the mom championing the screen-free time and space will help, but it will succeed only when everyone is aware of the goal.
If you need more information or inspiration, I encourage you to search for screen-free family activities on Pinterest or read the book “The Tech Wise Family.” Remember, a screen-free space won’t happen right away or perfectly, but making small intentional steps towards using screens less within your home will make a positive difference in your family.