Screen Time Wars: Should You Unplug?

I had this glorious post in my head: Mom of 4 crazy boys unplugs and finds peace and joy in the process. Okay maybe my hopes weren’t that high, but I had some unrealistic expectations of myself and my kiddos.

Charlie’s lead therapist suggested that we remove the IPad in the morning as he was struggling with transitioning to the car every day. I actually CRIED when she told me this. No joke…blubbering mommy when you mention the words: No IPad!

Charlie has to be watched like a hawk even though he’s 3 ½. He has Autism and doesn’t understand danger. I mean unlocking doors, running in the street, climbing on the stove, rolling on the baby, etc. He also wakes up between 4-5 a.m., and the IPad provides a buffer for me during our chaotic mornings.


The first day was ROUGH! Then we found our groove, and we have been IPad free in the morning for 2 weeks. Mornings are actually easier, and Charlie gets out the door without much protest these days. The promise is that if everyone has a good morning with great listening, 45 minutes of IPad time will be available after school, and it’s working!

Attempting to be Super Mom, I decided to implement a no TV policy for the afternoon and evening. I still allowed limited TV in the morning, because getting 3 lunches packed and 4 kid fed and clothed requires some Daniel Tiger and Word World!

Anyways, the first 2 days were amazing. No TV not even one show. They were still permitted 45 minutes of IPad time after school as a reward for a good morning, so we weren’t technically fully unplugged but close enough for me.

When we (halfway) unplugged, the boys were forced to play with one another and spend more time with me. Dinner didn’t get made. The house was a disaster, BUT we lived semi-unplugged for 2 wonderful afternoons.


Then reality set in. Charlie doesn’t sleep through the night, so I am always tired. On the 3rd day, exhaustion hit me, and all hell…yes HELL…broke loose. Everyone was crying including Mom. Kids were getting hurt here and there. The baby was being attacked, and everyone was miserable. I called my husband crying, and he said: “Why are you torturing yourself? Just turn on the TV!”, so I did.

Our afternoon still wasn’t perfect even with a little TV time, but it was better. My 6 year-old held my hand while we watched TV. This is the same son who refuses to hold my hand, because apparently 6 is too old to hold your mother’s hand. My other 3 boys crawled up on my lap and cuddled away. This is what happened when we plugged back in. It was also wonderful in its own way.

Yes, his hand says: Poo Poo
(Yes, his hand says: Poo Poo)

There’s good and bad aspects of TV and IPad time, but every family needs to find THEIR own balance. Sometimes we lay under blankets and watch movie after movie, and sometimes we don’t even think about the TV or IPad. It’s all about balance and giving yourself permission to let go of the rules and standards other parents have put on you.

I’m happy to report that we still watch far less TV than before, and my boys play with each other a bit more with less screen time. I’m also happy with the cuddles and love I get when we enjoy some screen time together.

Find your balance. There will be seasons that demand lots of screen time, and there will be seasons with very little. After all, I watched TONS of TV growing up, and I’m fine…at least I think!

PS: I’m fully aware this is NOT fully unplugged. Don’t bash if you are that miraculous mother that never lets her kids watch TV or play the IPad. Truth is I don’t think such a mom exists. I KNOW how much screen time kids really get. I have honest friends! XO