Day 34

rat a tat

Tonight I instituted No Screen Monday as a new tradition in our house. This means that at 6pm on Mondays all screens – TVs, phones, lap tops, iPads etc – have to be turned off. No exceptions.

I came up with the plan because my daughter has been having a few problems concentrating at school, which has led to fooling about in class, missed homework and other detention-gathering misdemeanours.

I’ve come to the conclusion that buying her an iPhone 5 as a reward at the end of her first year in high school back in July wasn’t the greatest idea.

I find it hard to put mine down – what’s it going to do to a 12 year old’s brain?

So the phone has been put in quarantine, but it still didn’t seem like enough and my husband agreed to give a no screens evening a go.

The other thing that inspired the idea was remembering the winter of 1972 when a series of miners’ strikes led to weeks of power cuts in the darkest nights of February.

It was one of the happiest times of my whole life. Instead of hanging out in our bedrooms (I’m the youngest of four), or gawping in front of the telly, we all sat round the open fire in the sitting room, which was lit by oil lamps, and played games.

Night after night it went on and I never tired of it. I was exactly the age she is now.

Our first No Screen Monday was an unmitigated success. Sitting by our cosy log burner, we played our favourite picture card game Rat-a-Tat-Cat, which involves a certain amount of card remembering and cunning.

Then we played a crossword puzzle game, which Peggy hated, although she made some of the best words.

Finally we moved on to the family favourite, the finest of card games: Shit Head. Which until very recently Peggy thought was called Oh, Bother!

How we laughed.

It was so much more fun than our usual Monday nights with dad in the sitting room watching sport, or a docco about something appalling happening somewhere very far away or a very long time ago, Peggy videoing herself dancing in the hallway, and me in my study (door open) hooked to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, shopping sites and emails.

It wasn’t all easy. I thought of a really funny Tweet (I thought it was funny, anyway) and couldn’t go and post it. I wanted to check my train times and the weather for tomorrow. Peggy wanted to watch the video of her Uncle Nick (see yesterday’s post) on YouTube. But we held firm.

Then dad discovered that there was a football match on – and not just any football match, Man U vs Barcelona. I caved in. It is his job to watch football, after all.

But Peggy was fine about it. She did some sewing, some point shoe prep and some piano noodling and song making upping and then I read to her in bed, which soon turned instead into singing songs from favourite musicals, which caused Peggy to say: ‘Can you turn off the book now?’

Dad then came and joined in and we ended the day feeling as close as a family can feel.

In other news today, my brother sold his Magic Carpet (barn find) for £100.

3 thoughts on “Day 34

  1. Beautiful. When we first had our weekender up here we had no TV. That went on for years, and it was a happy time of reading and talking by the fire. Well, me reading, Russell snoring and Chloe dancing. Now we live here permanently and we have a TV. But occasionally the batteries (we’re on solar power) get low or drop out, so we have to talk to each other for a change. They’re my favourite nights.


  2. I think you’re doing a good thing.

    I hope you don’t mind but I’m sending this post to the mums of girls on my daughter’s under 13 netball team. The mums are lovely and we’ve bonded and this is Very topical for all of us. In fact, we have started having dinners every so often (despite fact netball season is over) and it is so good to chat and the issues are the same despite the fact our girls all go to different high schools; ie. local girls high, local coed high, private catholic girls, private coed, private Anglican, local academically selective high and the conservatorium of music. We’re organizing to go soon to a talk “social media & teens- working with it, not against it”.

    Thanks to great advice from my friend when my daughter was about to start kindergarten 8 years ago, we do not have any tv or screens on from Monday morning to Friday morning (this is hard & nearly killed me initially as our son is 22 months younger than our daughter but eventually I learnt how to keep him occupied with his toys and Thomas train sets. Personally I break this rule every school night as I turn on the tv as soon as the kids are in bed as I’m a tube head & now suffer separation anxiety if I don’t sit down with the ipad & my iPhone in front of tv). We do turn on tv occasionally during school term or let our son use ipad to check cricket scores or watch Leon Messi but that’s it ( or that is at least what we think).


    • I wish I’d had that advice when you did! I have typical mum guilt about letting my daughter watch TV when she was much too little. But she hardly slept – didn’t sleep through ONCE until she was six and it’s still hard to get her to bed – and I was just desperate. Love the sound of your group. I’m finding it very challenging to police and I’m glad to have one other mum who’s on the same wavelength. When she was allowed the phone, I took it away at 8pm and had it charging by my desk. some of her friends text constantly way past midnight. How can they be any use at school the next day? I’d love to hear more of what your group discusses and concludes.


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