Screen-Free Week: Mom, baby couldn't hack it without iPhone, iPod

Screen-Free Week: Mom and baby got an F – oh, make it a D. Life without an iPhone or iPod can really mess up a day.

Stephanie Hanes
Maddy Wilson, 1, couldn't make it through Screen-Free Week without a music fix on an iPod or iPhone.

Midterm reports are in for my own, personal Screen-Free Week – the hyper-local version of the national celebration promoted by children’s health and play advocates across the country.

My self-appointed grade? D.

I’d give myself an F, actually, but you know how grade inflation is these days. And besides, all those mommy books I’ve read tell me I need to be kind to myself. So D it is.

Most of the points came off yesterday, which was one of those days that started early and grumpily, with an immediately apparent need for a Do Over.  For everyone in the house. For the the cat, who whined and woke up the baby early; the dog, who was hyper and shedding; the husband, who declared he was going to rid the homestead of all animals; the mommy, who pulled the covers over her head and insisted the alarm clock must be wrong; and, of course, the baby, who picked up on everyone’s vibes and decided to dismantle a 400 pack of q-tips that was somehow left vulnerable in one of the non-child proofed bathroom drawers. 

I whipped out the iPhone (minus 10 points) in the parking lot of our local coffee shop where I had gone in desperation for latte No. 2. Or maybe 3.

“Do you ever feel like you just can’t do it?” I e-mailed one of my dearest friends, who has three children, including a newborn, and is quite decidedly even more tired than I am.

I checked the phone repeatedly until she wrote me back. (Minus 10.)

“This is how I feel almost every day for about 20 minutes somewhere between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.,” she wrote. “And also every time I pass a mirror and notice how bad my roots look.”

I felt better. Until nap time. Because, you see, the only way Baby M goes to sleep is with a specific mix of songs, played in a specific order, all organized on the...  iPod.  (Minus 5).  And yesterday, I could not find this iPod. Panic. Total panic, I tell you. I tried playing the mix on my phone (minus 5), but I couldn’t figure out how to keep it from shuffling, so the songs were not in the right order – not the right order at all – so every time Baby started to drift off, the next song, not being the one she expected to hear, would wake her up and she would.... look at the screen. And point. And want to play with it.  (Minus 15.)

So rather than nap we had screen time.

The nap never happened, although the squirming and fussing got much, much worse. Desperate, I eventually brought Baby into my office so I could indignantly e-mail Husband (minus 10) that I was going online to the Apple store right now because I didn’t care how much another iPod cost, I needed one.

And although I didn’t actually do this – I decided I’d wait for his reply (another minus 5 for electronic communication dependency) – I figured that since I was on the computer anyhow I would just take a teensy little peek at my e-mail. (Minus 10).  And when I saw that I needed to make a call for work, I went ahead and did it, despite the overly tired baby who – of course – started fussing so much that the only way to keep her quiet was to (oh, the shame) give her the iPhone. 

She actually texted her daddy.

“Kiln }aZE72&2f72,” she wrote.

“Huh?” he responded.  “Did you give the baby your phone???”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said.

The scoring did not improve.  There were trips to the computer, tasks electronically multi-processed, news glanced at on the e-reader. I noticed on my iPhone screen (sigh) that I had missed two calls from my mother.

“I hope just because it’s screen-free week it doesn’t mean you’re not checking your phone,” she said on the message, which I (of course) checked.

By the end of the day I knew I needed extra credit, and suggested we listen to the baseball game on the radio. (Actually, it’s over the iPhone, because we are baseball expatriates and still like to listen to the Orioles, but at least we could keep the screen off.)

But then the O’s started beating the Yankees, and when that happens, well, you’ve just got to turn on the game so you can see it. Even the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood must have a Yankees-losing exception, right?

So we went to the computer and streamed the game. 

D.  D-, maybe.

Today, I hope, will be better.  Because, you know, yesterday was not a peaceful day. And while I can’t blame the screens entirely, I know they played a role.  Electronic addiction begets more dependency and edginess – even with all of these devices’ good qualities. (Long distance communication, for instance. Or napping.)

So here’s looking for grade improvement. 

If anyone has any tips out there, help me out.  

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