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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Taking The Challenge: A Technology-Free Christmas

Oh my gosh!  This week is flying by.  I've got about a bazillion things yet to do.  This year, my procrastinator streak really bit me in the hiney.  Plus, we've an some "ah-hah" moments that have really limited what our buying options are for our older boys.

Here's where I'm at...

Landon is done.  Eva is done.  But the boys...  Yeah.  What do you buy a 9, an 11, and an almost a 13 yr. old boy?  Ian wanted an iPod Touch...  We bought one, only to return it because of a certain event the other night that proved to us he's really not ready for that kind of responsibility.  Texting on your brother's phone at 10:30 p.m. under your covers when you're supposed to be asleep????  Really???  I don't even want to talk about the meltdown that ensued.  HUGE, folks.  Just because I demanded that he surrender the phone to me.  REALLY!  You would have thought I was cutting off his right hand!  Now, I feel like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.  Remember him?  Except its "No iPod for you!  Next!"  :P

Let's look back at how far society has come...   For me, it was a book and a flashlight.  For them, its texting or the TV or the XBOX or the iPad.  At least the reading was improving my mind!  Ian wanted the iPod Touch.  Hmmmm...  Not gonna happen now.  So, now we have to figure something else out.  Noah said the only thing he wanted was his DSi XL fixed...  That's the only thing he could think of!  OMG.  Seriously???  Greyson wants a basketball hoop and a new ball...  That's reasonable.  However...  We live in Iowa.  Its winter time.  All he'd be able to do is look at it in the box for 5 months before the ground thaws enough to be able to concrete it into the ground.  He's just going to have to wait until his birthday for that one.  ARGH.  But at least it wasn't another piece of technology

To be honest, I am sick of technology.  It sucks up all of our time.  It takes us away from time that should be spent as a family.  As an adult, I can self-impose time limits on the amount of time I spent online.  And even as an adult, I find that difficult.  How many times have I been sucked into other people's blogs, Facebook, and do I dare mention it...  Pinterest.  If I, as an adult, have a hard time and I know the boundaries, what about children who haven't learned that yet?  Kids...  Its a whole 'nother ball game.  Especially my kids.  If they're not watching TV, they're texting.  If they've not texting, they're on the computer.  If they're not on the computer, they're on the XBOX.  And just for fun, let's also throw in the school endorsed iPads.  Grrrrrr!  I feel like I never "see" my children!

After a lot of reflecting the last couple of weeks, Scott and I decided to have a technology-free Christmas this year.  Last year they got an XBOX (bane of my existence) and Greyson got a cell phone.  The year before, it was their flat screen (another bane of my existence - Parents:  Keep the TV out of your kids' bedrooms!)  I feel like I spend half my time coaxing them out of their bedroom to spend some time with us or chastising them to turn them off at bedtime.  Noah:  "Just wait until my man dies, Mom." (Yeah, two hours LATER.)  Ian:  "But I've been waiting for this game all week!" (Its every sports game, no matter what the season.)  Greyson:  "But I'm right in the middle of this show." (There's ALWAYS a show on!)  And just for fun let's throw in the inevitable arguing because one wants to watch TV and another wants to play XBOX.  And the other half of my time is spent chasing them away from one piece of technology, only to have them go to another.  Is this really what our family has become???

So, this year I have decreed a technology-free Christmas.  Scott thinks I'm certifiable.  That within a day I will driven insane with bored children who have nothing to do.  And it will probably take a while for all of us to get used to it.  But.  I am sticking to my guns.  There will be absolutely not one single thing that promotes technology.  No video games.  No iPods.  No movies.  No iTunes cards.  No nothing.  The computer will be locked down.  I have already told Ian and Greyson, but have yet to break it to Noah.  It didn't go over with them too well and we even had a few tears.  Noah is by-far the most addicted to the XBOX, so I'm bracing for a nuclear explosion.  And that's not all...  The day after Christmas (I'm not a TOTAL grinch - I'll at least wait until the day after),  their TV is being taken out of their room.  I can't remember the last time we all sat down together and watched something - and that's sad.  The XBOX is being removed from the house all together.  Its going to be a tough Christmas break - for them.  For me...  I'm really, really looking forward to spending some quality family time with my kiddos...  If they're not ignoring me because of this total shift in the family dynamic.

You may wonder where this epiphany came from.  Why the 180* turn?  Well, I was going through some old videos that I've thrown together the last couple of years and I came across this:

I've watched it a gazillion times in the past week.  And that was a year ago...  They've changed even so much since then!  Where has the time gone????  It just seems like yesterday Scott and I were newly married.  Then came the babies one right after the other.  Then they all started school and then came the sporting events and the never-ending running, running, running.  I spent all of 5 minutes home yesterday and barely saw any of them at all.  Savanna is now 17, all grown up, living out on the east coast, has a job, and will be starting her first semester of college in January.  Yesterday she was my baby!  There are so many things nowadays that compete with my time with my children.  School, I can't control.  Sports is something they love and I don't want to limit.  Technology...  Well, that I can do something about.  I do not want them to look back on their childhoods and only have memories of TV shows and XBOX games and absolutely none of family time spent together.  Its time to simplify life a little bit and get back to the basics.  Back to what really matters.  Each other.  So...  Here we are.

Some of you may be wondering why I let it happen in the first place.  Or you might ask why I didn't realize it sooner.  Well...  being a slave to technology is something that happened over years.  It kind of just snuck up on us.  It began by adding one piece at a time, until suddenly we just realized that we have been inundated by it.  Its been a slippery slope and one that we now find our family at the bottom of - in a gigantic messy heap.  I am just so glad that the Lord has put it on my heart to do something about it - before technology raises my children for me.

However, this revelation has also brought about a big conundrum:  What in the world do we get the boys this year for Christmas????  My sons have never been ones to play with Legos or other "toys".  They have all the sporting equipment they need.  They have so many clothes (its hand me down heaven around here), that they don't need anything in that department.  I am completely at a loss.  Its really sad that I can't think of a single thing that they would like that isn't technology related.  So.  Here I am.  Its five days before Christmas and I have NOTHING.  They're getting books from us because thankfully they've all inherited my love of reading - well, except for Ian, but he's still getting books.  He will convert!  LOL!  There's the prerequisite pajamas, underwear, and socks that they know to expect from us.  But anything else?  No clue.

So...  I'm asking for some help in coming up with ideas for presents.  Yes, I am so desperate for ideas that I'm reaching out to all of my friends in the blogosphere.  I know y'all won't let me down!  :)

Until then...  I'm sitting here wracking my brain because I refuse to be sucked into buying them video games or iPods or anything else technology related because I can't think of anything.  Ugh.  And that's how I really know things must change - and fast!  :P


Tanya said...

I'm with you! I cannot stand video games. I'm dreading the days when my boys are all about electronics. I know it's coming though. But, for now I'll be perfectly content with buying them a few toys and things they really need like clothing and undies. Stick to your guns...us 30 and older all survived just fine during our teenage years without cell phones, IPods and such.

Shari @ turnstylevogue.com said...

Hmm.. that is a huge challenge, I will admit. How about some new board games that are out right now for the whole family to play? Gift cards to entertainment places such as movies, batting cages, etc...? I know it is considered technology, but a digital camera as a group present might be fun for them...you could challenge them to take certain kinds of photos and it could involve the whole family - it isn't a gadget that keeps them locked up in their room...it is interactive in a way. They would get their "fix" and you would still win the battle :) Regardless...good luck!!

And thanks for the guest post! It will be up at midnight tonight my time.


Shannon@FoxHollowCottage said...

You don't ask for much do you? We'll hope to hear from you the day after the big news... Hope they let you live. LOL ;) I have no idea girl since my guy is a gamer and loves Legos too. Winter is hard since they'll have to be inside. What about snow toys? Sleds and such... Board games are a must. We play often but the ages around here are older. Not sure what there is for your age range? If I think of anything, I'll let ya know. Good luck =))) Shan

Our Beaten Path said...

I really enjoyed watching your video! And what a hard challenge....But I know what you mean. See, here we live in the South so I got my son an EZY Roller....We get random cold days but for the most part it's pretty balmy. I think board games are a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Laura, I used to hide under the covers with a flashlight and a book, too. That was only after I had "just let me finish this chapter/page/paragraph"ed my parents to death.

I don't know what advice I can offer you. I'm a HUGE fan of games and I play strategy games which really do stretch the mind sometimes. But someone mentioned games already. This is really old school, but what about models ... you know cars, motorcycles, etc. Or woodworking projects and tools - get them the stuff to build a fort outside and you guys can help! Art supplies? Paints, modeling clay, etc.

My dad was always good for buying us stuff like "gemstone polishing kits" and "stamp collecting albums" and erector sets and such. Stuff that was educational, time consuming and that he could do with us. Oh - how about an archery set? (We had one of those, too.)

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Gina :)

Laura Ann said...


First I have to say, I love this post, it is so well written and I can totally hear your voice, your motherly frustration, and feel the struggle that so many of us have with what to get our kids as they get older. I can already see David Jr having an addictive personality when it comes to video games, which is why he isn't allowed to play them during the school week and they don't have a TV in their room (and never will).

I love the idea someone gave about getting a camera, like her I know it's technology but is productive and a wonderful hobby to start them on. I also love the idea of board games, something that two can play or the whole family.

I can't wait to read her after Christmas post and see how things go. I pray that the kids see the effort your making to draw the family together and it will click with them and y'all will have a great time.

Love You
Laura Ann