Last week I posted on Facebook about how I had to literally pull the plug on Fortnite, much to the shock and disappointment of my four sons.
Translation: open mouths and tears!
If you don’t have children, or don’t pay much attention to current trends, Fortnite is a video game that’s a little like a cartoonish mash-up of Hunger Games and Minecraft. And kids across America are OBSESSED with it. I’m talking like get-up-at-5am and play-with-a-headset-so-as-not-to wake-the-parents type of obsessed.
And still after I pulled all the plugs out of the TV, my boys were in pure disbelief. I could see it on their faces. Did she really just do that?
Now before I go much further with my story about losing my mind and yanking every cord out of the black box that makes Fortnite show up on my TV (and in-home stereo system by mistake) I should tell you that I WARNED my kids about limiting their screen time, having self control, and not shouting while I was on the phone. Several times. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. In one headset-covered ear and out the other.
Cords gone! Screen black. Mid-game. Oh, yes. I really did.
But that wasn’t all.
Then I told them that they had to go OUTSIDE for the rest of the day. They could choose how to spend their time outside, but they couldn’t come back in until dinner.
Insert children sulking and arguing here. “But, Mo-om!” Yes, the two syllable “Mom” call. “We couldn’t hear you!”
Of course you couldn’t, you were too busy hiding in a digital bush waiting to ambush your brother, who was busy trying to kill you from the other room.
Of course you couldn’t hear me. Now get outside!
And so they did. Not willingingly, but they did it. Ten minutes later the youngest one was standing outside the dining room window, nose pressed to the glass as if to ask how could I banish him to yard with no snacks? Then I heard another one creeping around upstairs. I’m not sure how he got back in.
Eventually they realized I was serious and went outside. And wait for it … they enjoyed it! Two of them decided to go fishing. The other two rode their bikes and made up a game to play in the yard. Guess what they called it? Fortnite LIVE! Ha! Great … go hide in a real bush, I say!
When they came back in the house later, they were happy and sweaty and talking to each other without headsets. WIN!
I had questioned my impulsive plug-pulling move, but now I could see that it worked. Fortnite won’t be gone forever in our house, but we needed the break from it. And now we’ll have more limits on screens. For all of us, including me.
I know this because one of my sons called me out on it:
“How come we have limits on screen time and you get to sit on your computer all day?”
Although I might not be addicted to Fortnite, I am addicted to email. And I do love a good scroll through social media. If there’s one thing I know, it’s a hard climb out of that rabbit hole!
So I’m taking a time out, too. For two weeks, my priorities will revolve around a smooth start to the school year. For my studio, that means ensuring we have a successful first week back to classes in our new building. For my kids, that means making sure I fill out the 30 billion pages of back to school papers required and one more trip to Target for pencils. For myself, that means getting out for a run (which I hate doing, but I like how it makes me feel).
These priorities mean that my self-discipline will absolutely need to be in check. Just like I temporarily pulled the plug on the TV, I’m going to have to temporarily pull the plug on my own screen time.
I imagine that YOU probably need to do the same. So let’s do it together! Find out what you can “unplug” so you can focus on your work, your self-care, or your home front.
I wish you all the best as you kick off the new year. 🙂