On Electronic Devices and the First Week of Vacation

first week of vacation by the pool
Today marks the end of our first week of vacation in Spain. It’s been a crazy, busy week, and I can’t believe that we’ve only got two weeks of vacation left!

We’ve both been working a lot since we arrived here last Friday while at the same time trying to acclimate ourselves to the warmer climate and catching up on much needed sleep and rest.

We also seem to have been on our electronic devices for an inordinate amount of time which is totally opposite of what we intended before the vacation began.

About a month ago, Per had declared that the first week of vacation would be device-free so that we could spend more quality time together. Crazy man.  It turned out that he had to eat his words due to work. (Whew! Because I had to work too.)

We’re not one of those parents who say, “Do as I say, but not as I do.” And because we had to work, then Keira was allowed to watch her shows on her iPad.

It’s been difficult to tell her to stop using her iPad and her phone when she sees that the both of us are on our PC’s so much.

There was a lot of arguing in this first week.

I wanted her to read her library books and color or do arts/crafts. Basically, anything that didn’t require an electronic device. She wanted to be on her electronic device the most, but was willing to do “a little” reading.

I tried cajoling. I tried yelling. I tried the niceties. I tried being the mean mom.

She stubbornly resisted me every step of the way. The harder I pushed her to stop watching and do something else, the harder she pushed back.  And I have to say, she argued her case beautifully, including foot stomping, crossed arms and crinkled brow.

She wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy. Not a good situation. And it was basically ruining our time together.

I needed to think differently.

The Art of Negotiation

I realized that this wasn’t a case of black or white. There was actually something in between where we could both have what we wanted and still be happy. It’s called negotiation and discussion.

So I decided to give it a try with Keira.

On Wednesday, I sat down with Keira and a blank piece of paper. I explained to her that I was tired of the arguing and we had to come to a compromise where both of us could be happy.

I told her that what was important to me was that she read, she did the math app on her phone for 15 minutes and that she didn’t spend all her time watching TV.

What she wanted was to watch TV, swim, read the minimal amount and spend time together.

We talked for approximately 4 hours.

I let her be in control of writing down the brainstorming ideas and writing down the compromise after the brainstorming was done.

Things we have to do list

What we agreed on was the following:

  • Reading – 40 minutes a day. She wanted to break up the reading 20 min. during the morning and 20 minutes later in the day.
  • Math app – do it together with me for 15 min.
  •  Vocabulary – practice 15 min. together
  • TV – 2 hours a day. She keeps count on her iPhone.

Does the compromise work?

It’s only been a couple of days, but it’s been working so far. Keep your fingers crossed.

Keira finished reading her first book the other night and surprisingly, enjoyed herself.

Yesterday morning, she picked up a new book and read it with no complaining. She also learned how to do multiplication, which she picked up very easily and seemed to enjoy.

We swam. We enjoyed the sun. We took a siesta.

And, best of all, she only ended up using 30 minutes of her 2 hour time on the iPad.

I’m not saying that this compromise is the best way to go. We could have just gone cold turkey, but then all of us would have to go cold turkey….and I guess we’re not ready for that.

I just think that it’s important to recognize that we have to limit our time on these devices and remember that we need to spend time together and just enjoy each other’s company.

How about you? Does your family go cold turkey on vacations? Would love to hear your comments.

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