My husband came home Friday evening carrying in our “Pizza Friday” dinner. Every Friday night is pizza night. JR expects it so we do it. After we had our quick and easy meal we cleaned up and settled in for the evening. My husband, like so many others, had this past Monday off to celebrate the Labor Day holiday. We did not make plans to go out of town or to take in any of the sights here in our new hometown. We decided there was plenty to do at our new house to keep us busy on his “extra” day off. I got up to do a few things like loading the dishwasher and throwing in a load of laundry and came back to the living room. And that’s when I saw it. My family was not playing together or even watching TV together. They were all playing/watching their phones/tablets. They looked like zombies. My husband on his phone, Alex and Eli on their tablets, JR had my phone and Elissa was on the extra cell phone. All of them had something in their hands and not one of them seemed to notice what was going on around them. It was the scariest image I had seen in a long time. It was not okay with me, not by a long shot.
It was close to bed time so we took the kids upstairs and preceded with our nightly routine. After all teeth were brushed and the Littles were tucked into their beds we headed back downstairs. And thats when I sat my husband down for a nice little chat. If your married you know what kind of chat I am talking about. The one where he has no choice but to listen cause mommas mouth is going way to fast for him to get a word in edge wise. I told him I did not like what I saw this evening, that he spends so much time away at work that he needs to spend time with the kids not on the phone when he is home, that the boys need someone to wrestle with and throw footballs with, that I wish we didn’t have phones or tablets, how I wish we could just disconnect for a while, you know all of Pandoras box in one conversation. Don’t judge me you know you have done the same thing a time or two. We are all only human. I spoke my peace and went to bed. He never said a word. God blessed me with a patient man.
Now, for the record he is a wonderful dad. Why things hit me this particular evening who knows. But you know what I am glad they did.
We woke up Saturday morning to the giggles of Eli and JR sneaking in our room at the early signs of daylight. One of these days I will get to sleep in past 6 a.m. We made our way downstairs and the boys quickly found their cars and trucks that had not been put away the night before. My husband looked over at me while drinking his coffee and smiled. Our one-sided conversation had not ended our marriage. Thank you Jesus. I don’t know how but the phones and tablets were not brought up before we opened the door to the backyard. Maybe God knew we needed a gadget free weekend. However it happened, the next two days my kids and were phone free/tablet free. We went outside and played on the swing set. They made roads for their cars in the flower beds, they climbed on the rocks and rolled down the hill in the freshly cut grass. They chased each other around the yard, they chased the dog and their dad around the yard. They wrestled with each other and joined forces to take down their dad, we read stories and played with chalk. They were having a ball. My husband and I even managed to get a few little outside projects done. The boys and Elissa played hard. Really hard. Baby girl was not feeling well so she did not get to enjoy the outside as much as the other kids. Maybe next time. By the time evening rolled around they were dirty. I mean really dirty. They had dirt in their hair, grass on their feet, and sweat on their foreheads. Eli even had leaves stuck to his pull up. My bath tub had to be scrubbed after they were finished because of the ring of dirt they left behind. And you know what I loved it.
They did not even ask for the tablets till Monday afternoon. They were enjoying being kids like kids did before all this technology crap got in the way. It was wonderful. They needed it. We needed it.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our phones, computers, or iPads that we forget how to just be a family. We are all guilty of it, I know I am at least. It is so easy to hand a child a phone so he can watch videos while you are busy making dinner or if your out at a doctor’s appointment. It keeps them busy and out of the way. And I love the educational side as well. JR as made great strides in his vocabulary using both English and Spanish preschool apps. The problem happens when we make them to accessible to often. What I saw Friday night could have been any family any night. I don’t want that for my kids or my family. I am not going to lie my husband and I were exhausted come Monday morning, it’s a good thing he had the day off, but it was so worth it.
We have made a commitment to each other and to our kids to disconnect from the high tech world more often. It’s not only good for the family it’s good for the soul. The sound of my kids laughing and squealing as they play does my heart so much better than the sounds my phone or computer make. It’s about being there for them. It brings everyone closer together just as God intended. Yes I am sure there will still be days that it’s easier to just hand over my phone than to listen to him or her scream and that’s OK. Being a mom means we pick our battles one at a time one day at a time. For now I am thankful for dirt. I am thankful for the cool summer days. I am thankful for giggles and sweaty faces. I am thankful God made a way for me to be mom to these five little ones.
Life is good with alittle bit of dirt.
From our beautiful chaos to yours let life get a little messy. You will be thankful you did.