The Truth about “Going Screen Free” for the Summer! 11 comments

screen_free_unplug_summerI wish I could say it was a great epiphany or the culmination of the study of great parenting journals that helped me arrive at the decision to go screen-free for the summer.  No, it was nothing like that at all, it was an honest to goodness, full-blown, hissy fit. One of those not to be proud of parenting moments wherein you make a loud, impactful declaration from which you cannot back down.  Such is the birth of our screen free summers!

While I do not remember the exact nature of the exasperating behaviors of my children at the time, rest assured they must have pushed all of my buttons to their capacity.  I do recall a beautiful, sunny, Cape Cod day in our lovely house with the big back yard and more toys than any children should own and what were my children doing, you ask? ….WATCHING TV!  Three young children, completely absorbed by a screen and flopped on the floor like rag dolls.  They were ignoring my pleas to go to the beach or out for a bike ride, when I finally snapped.

A decade later we are still screen free from June 1st to Labor Day weekend. I pine for the years when my kids thought that every family turned off their televisions and computers for the summer.  For many years, they lived under this erroneous assumption and I did not correct it.  Several years ago, one of them did become the wiser and confronted me with the fact that I had made up this rule myself… my simple response was “I never said that I didn’t”.

This decision to spend more time doing things that did not involve technology has grown, changed, and morphed over many years and there are some cold hard truths that come with this endeavor.  The following list is in no particular order, however it represents the truth about “going screen free” in the summer:

* Your house will be louder in every way imaginable,  guaranteed.

* “I’m bored” will be announced daily often hourly.

* Your house will never be clean for more than a few minutes at a time.

* Your children will whine, complain, connive, bargain and cry for their screen of choice.

* You will be compared to other families, better ones that allow video games all day every day!

* You will be referred to as mean, ridiculous and more muttered under the breath of your offspring.

HOWEVER… there is an up side (there has to be or I would have rescinded this declaration years ago – I’m not insane)!

* You will see books, board games, crafts, sports equipment and items you did not even know you owned come out of the proverbial woodwork.

* Your pets will receive more attention.

* Your children will read willingly – I know sounds crazy but it’s true, they will become desperate to get lost in a story.

* They will spend more time with you, and even take an interest in what you are doing because they are truly bored!

* Imaginations grow, projects get started, dreams are percolating and they actually DO stuff.

* Parks, beaches, playgrounds, libraries and even the grocery store will be repeated destinations.

* They will go outside for long periods of time and look to pry other kids away from their screens to come and play.

* You as CEO of the house  will reserve the right to reverse screen policy on an as needed basis, e.g. a relentless heat wave, a sick or injured child, your need for a couple of hours of sanity, etc…

Of all the parenting decisions I have ever made, I cling to this one, as one of my best.   In 2001 with three children under five years old, I was parenting by the seat of my pants.  Today, more than a decade later with a house full of teenagers the screen-free summer is ahead of us.  We make accommodations now, and adjust to teenage communication and lifestyle but the elements of unplugging ourselves and enjoying our lives for the next three months are well ingrained and for that summer day hissy fit I had, I am forever thankful.

Are my children grateful? No, not yet anyways, they would happily click, swipe, text, google and watch the summer go by.  I can only hope however that just like eating vegetables and brushing your teeth, understanding the beauty of living unplugged, even momentarily, will be habit-forming.

Here’s to a great screen-free summer!  How do you unplug with your family?

About LB Living Better

Lisa Bates has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology, Certification to teach Behavioral Sciences and a degree in Business Administration. From school administrator and non-profit executive, to teacher, coach, counselor and mom, Lisa has extensive experience, knowledge and training working with children from toddlers to teenagers. Currently, Lisa owns and operates LB Living Better an organizational and educational services business. Lisa has just released her first book, Barbies in the Horse Bin, Living Better with Organized Children and she is a seasoned, energizing, humorous, workshop presenter with extensive experience. As a mother of three teenagers including twin boys, Lisa maintains her sanity by writing, travelling and playing with her dogs. Read more about Lisa Bates at or contact her at

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11 thoughts on “The Truth about “Going Screen Free” for the Summer!

    • lbadmin Post author

      Me too! I definitely spend time unnecessarily though… can you say social media… I’m trying to limit that for the summer – we’ll see. My kids use the computer too if it’s educational… they write, play music – learn music, one even runs a little tech business so we factor those things in to our “screen free” day!

    • lbadmin Post author

      True! I think awareness of our habits is just as important so if “screen-free” happens just once a week…it’s all good!

  • Karen @ From the Garden Table

    Excellent post! I have thought about doing this but am scared more for the sake of my own sanity (poor excuse, I know) I think we might start slowly this summer by instituting pretty short time limits on everything with a screen. Enjoy your summer!

    • lbadmin Post author

      Baby steps is more advisable then my cold turkey approach… I work with some families who go screen free one day a week or during certain hours… whatever works for you!

  • Felicia

    I wish we were at times. We have limited the amount of screen time to the heat of the day here in Louisiana but only for a couple of hours because we know here soon the heat of the day will arrive at 10 am and won’t leave till 8pm. (Temperatures of 90 plus with humidity you can cut with a dull spoon…ick)

    When we do unplug we spend the time together. Either out at local parks, state parks, at cousins swimming, enjoy the rare cool evening walking the dog, reading, and lots of crafting. My girls can get crazy with glue and paper.

    • lbadmin Post author

      We definitely save our screen time for heat waves here in the Northeast which I am sure are nothing like Louisiana!

  • Tiffany Hathorn

    I think that this is a great idea. I know that I need to spend less time away from the computer screen and more time enjoying the outdoors. My son would go along with it happily.