I failed miserably at Screen-Free Week. Alright, maybe not miserably. Here is the context: my husband Neal and I are home caring for our very new baby, Wes. He is our first child and the love of our lives, and he consumes just about every moment and every ounce of energy we have (just as he is supposed to). Every other day or so, Wes falls into a deep sleep in the evening and Neal and I giddily steal some time to watch an episode of X-Files. I had no idea how crucial this 45 minutes of “zone-out” time was to my new mother sanity until I tried to give it up for Screen-Free Week last Monday. I was hunting aliens with Mulder and Scully on Tuesday.
I was disappointed in myself. Last year my Screen-Free Week was a total success. So much so that my husband and I gave up TV altogether. Now we have a TV set and DVD player, and after Wes is asleep, we enjoy an episode of a television series or a movie on most nights. I realized when I tried to zero out my screen time how important this ritual is to me. It’s a tiny piece of our pre-child life that we carried over into parenthood, a little indulgence we can afford.
Of course when Neal and I are unraveling unexplained phenomena on the X-Files, cruising the halls of the White House on West Wing, or hanging out with the corner boys on The Wire, Wesley is fast asleep, dreaming baby dreams. He’ll enjoy a screen-free babyhood so his ideas, desires, and imagination can bud on their own without the influence of corporations that would prefer that he develop his early consumer identity. When I gaze into Wes’s endlessly trusting and curious eyes, it infuriates me to think about the companies that want to exploit his vulnerability for profit. I’ve never been prouder to work with Josh and Susan, our Steering Committee, and the thousands of advocates all over the world who are fighting for a commercial-free childhood.
I guess Screen-Free Week wasn’t a complete failure.In struggling with my own screen vices, I’ve done some reflecting and had some important revelations. And I did give up Facebook for the week; do I get partial credit?