Is it only Thursday?

March 24, 2022

It’s been a whirlwind of a week around here, though perhaps starting to calm down. I probably shouldn’t complain as my kids are at least healthy (for now) and I’ve heard of about 83473 cases of gastroenteritis, both near and far.

But still, some things are feeling heavy. I am trying to lean into mindfulness and self-compassion, the latter of which I find particularly challenging.

Positive things:

1- I did a short NBC local segment on diabetes and COVID and what we’ve seen in our health system, and they were so excited to have a physician who was ‘media trained’. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think she meant that I was decent at talking off the cuff and sounding relatively polished. This is totally from all the practice I’ve had podcasting over the past 5 years.

(If anyone is curious, we’ve seen slightly higher rates of new onset type 1 diabetes and much higher rates of type 2, at least looking at 2020-2021 data. The smaller type 1 increase might not be directly related to COVID, as there were other factors like another local hospital closing their pediatrics ward, but it’s definitely worth exploring further.)

2- Annabel wants this A6 Hobonichi for her birthday, so I will consider my job as parent complete. Kidding somewhat, but it made me happy!

I approve of her cover selection.
I ordered from JetPens (regular non-affiliate link).

3- Screen free month has definitely been a success for the kids. G’s teacher actually commented that her behavior was noticeably improved. Now I am tasked with figuring out how to carry the benefits over into future months while allowing for a bit more leeway. I am thinking a weekly movie night and a video game/screen-containing afternoon x 1 over the weekend (Saturday or Sunday, but not both. Probably Saturday is better . . .). It has been easy to enforce 100% screen free because there was no wiggle room in my decree, and I will make sure they know that if there’s too much difficulty enforcing specific limits, we’ll just have to go back to 0 screens. I suspect that will work now that they know what is possible!

Oh, and I think we’ve finally set a MOVING DATE!!!! AHHHH! Floors are getting underway and painters are scheduled. We may be able to put in our 30 day ‘month to month’ rental notice tomorrow. I’m READY!


  • Reply Coree March 24, 2022 at 7:50 am

    I’m so glad your screenfree month has gone so well. We don’t do much in the way of screentime, but do find early ipad usage on the weekend leads to morning grumpiness, so we’re cutting it out.

    And yes to practitioners/academics who are media trained. I do quite a bit of media work, and it’s definitely a learned skill. The podcasting really helps.

  • Reply Seppie March 24, 2022 at 8:10 am

    When my kids were young – and before I made many compromises in the process of blending families – we had a 13″ TV on a rolling cart. It was hooked up to a VCR and an XBox, no cable or anything.

    During the week it lived in the water heater closet. On Friday evenings, we pulled it out when the babysitter came over (I always went to yoga and often had a date on Friday nights.) The kids also had unlimited Saturday morning watch/play time, allowing me one day a week to sleep in. How much screen time they got the rest of the weekend was dictated by whatever else was going on. And on Sunday afternoons the cart went back into the closet as part of getting ready for the week ahead.

    I have lovely memories of those years, and my husband says that he wishes he had been willing to stick with that system after we got married. The amount of screen time that he allowed (and pushed me to allow) is probably his biggest parenting regret now that our children are grown.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 24, 2022 at 8:26 am

      wow- that is powerful to hear. It really can suck away hours very easily that I’d rather them (and me) be doing something else.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns March 24, 2022 at 9:17 am

    Very cool that you were on the local news! Way to go!

    I’d like to take a similar approach to screens when warmer weather arrives and the baby is sleeping better/not waking at like 5-5:30. Right now we let our son use his ipad during the baby’s naptime so we can lay down, too. Once I am more well-rested and the weather is nice, I want to cut that out and do something outdoors with him! I think abstaining is so much easier than moderating so I can see how a hardline on 0 screen time is easier than ‘less’ screen time. I’ve always been an abstainer, though!

    Glad you will have a move date set soon!! And I hope your family avoid the GI bug that seems to be sweeping the nation. It hit our house in early March. The 4yo had it on his birthday. 🙁 Even my husband got it and he never gets GI bugs – this is the first one he’s had in the 10 years I’ve known him so it must have been very contagious. I’ve sadly had 3 GI bugs in less than 12 months. But I’m thinking I got it so much because I was BF’ing the baby. I’m hoping we have a healthier stretch ahead because this winter has been HORRIBLE for us!

  • Reply Elisabeth March 24, 2022 at 9:29 am

    “So I will consider my job as parent complete. Kidding somewhat, but it made me happy!” – I LOVE when my kids enjoy something I enjoy.
    So glad you have a tentative move date. It will be such a huge relief when this is all done.
    And what’s up with the stomach bugs going around? Everyone seems to have them…everywhere? We’ve avoided the plague so far, but I feel like it’s inevitable.

  • Reply Amanda Griffin March 24, 2022 at 9:57 am

    Sarah, I really appreciate hearing about your screen time situation, I feel so many moms won’t talk about it, so thank you. Its such a hard thing to navigate, especially as kids get older and need to be prepared for a world where they will be on screens so much. I think we’ve got an ok balance with my two year old right now, he has about 45 minutes a day, more on the weekends, but I know it’ll increase as he gets older and games and activities are added to the mix. I’m expecting twins this summer so we’re going to be embracing survival mode, but once things “settle down” and we feel we’ve adjusted to our growing family (whether that takes 2 months or 2 years remains to be seen) I do hope to cut back and be more deliberate about it.

  • Reply Noemi March 24, 2022 at 10:58 am

    How is it only Thursday indeed. This week feels never ending, and I don’t think that is because we have spring break next week either. Yay for a move in date!

  • Reply Natka March 24, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    For “fun” screen time, we do something similar to what you are planning. One family movie a week (either Saturday or Sunday, depending on our schedule) – kids take turns picking out a movie. More recently, we added another hour or so of screen time during the weekend for Minecraft. Before screen time, all chores, music practice, and homework have to be done.

    As our kids are getting older, limiting screen time is becoming more and more difficult (impossible?). Our middle schoolers have homework projects that they do on their school-issued computers. For now, I choose to trust them that they are spending their time wisely (because I have no desire to be constantly standing next to them and enforcing homework instead of youtube video-fest). I suggested (and kids agreed ) to have a hard cut off at 8 pm – when the computers have to be put away. I know for sure they occasionally watch fun stuff or play games in addition to doing homework, but so far they managed to keep up with their assignments and they don’t spend more than an hour on their laptops in the afternoons.

    I would love to hear about what other parents of middle schoolers and high schoolers do to encourage good work ethic (and maximizing time with friends IRL instead of virtual).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 24, 2022 at 1:05 pm

      Yes! We have had an exception for homework which only A has on screen now (math and vocab). Your approach sounds totally reasonable but agree will be tougher and tougher to navigate as they grow.

  • Reply Sarah K March 24, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    I would love to hear more specifically about how you managed the screen-free period. How did you do this without constantly having to be playing Legos or dress-up or Matchbox cars? How did you get them to play independently?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 24, 2022 at 2:03 pm

      I can’t even imagine doing those things to be honest (am I a bad parent)? There are 3 of them! They do those things together. I guess that’s definite benefit of >1 kid. Things they did to entertain themselves: make giant messes of toys (but they will clean up during loud music cleaning challenges lately so I left them), play school, read, look at yearbooks, do KiwiCrate, organizing projects (varying efficacy of actually organizing anything), draw, make a couch fort, play pretend with dolls, get in giant fights with each other, often physical. It was much more challenging managing the fights than it was entertaining them. I guess I do not see it as my job to entertain them . . .

      I love that you asked this – hope this didn’t come off too strongly, it made me think. 🙂

      • Reply Sarah K March 24, 2022 at 4:54 pm

        No offense taken! Those are great activity suggestions. I appreciate your honesty. I absolutely hate doing imaginary play with my kids haha. But they love it.

  • Reply Sarah Jedd March 24, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t really care about TV because my kids can moderate it, but they have ZERO CHILL with their iPads. Like, they are total aggressive zombies with too much iPad time, and they get just sucked in. But! I also hate to be the screen time nag. So, every Monday is Minecraft Monday, and they can have their iPads as much as they want. It’s been a genius solution for us. No nagging because they know when they get screens, and the after effects are contained to one day. (PART of one day, even, because school).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 24, 2022 at 3:55 pm

      ooh, that’s a very interesting tactic! (yes to the ‘zero chill’ factor when it comes to iPads/video games. that was part of why i removed them, i could not stand how much they OBSESSED about the activity!)

      • Reply Maya March 25, 2022 at 12:02 pm

        Sarah, I don’t know if you will see this late comment–but I would love to hear Sarah Jedd (above) as a BOBW guest! She has a longstanding internet presence, is an academic superstar, has five kids whom she spends tons of quality time with, reads hundreds of books, works out every day. etc. etc. I would love to learn how she does it all! I posted a link to her blog here when people had asked about mom blogs, but here it is again:

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 25, 2022 at 3:21 pm

          Oooooh i like this idea!

  • Reply Maya March 24, 2022 at 4:34 pm

    When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson spoke to her daughters about failing to always get “the balance right” it seemed like such a BOBW moment.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 24, 2022 at 6:49 pm

      oh wow. and the daughter’s face!! capturing the essence of pride . . .

  • Reply Leah March 24, 2022 at 7:31 pm

    My kids are 11 and 14 and the way we monitor screen time has changed through the years. My goal was always to ensure they had the ability to have screen free fun on their own (without me needing to entertain them). Right now, we do “Screen Free Sundays” and “Tech Free Tuesdays” and talk very openly about pressures from social media and the way you feel after effortful fun versus effortless fun. I found just taking it off the plate a few whole days made me happier than policing a particular number of hours each day. As teens they now openly admit sometimes they get excited for Tech free days. In addition, we have always insisted on “laps” around our circle after school/activities and before any screen time. What started as a walk with kids in wagons/strollers when they were little is now a habit for my teenage kids that lets them run off some school day stress before doing any homework or engaging on social media/screens. As they grew I’ve really tried to model the screen time limits in ways appropriate for adults rather than a parent/child policing approach.

  • Reply coco March 25, 2022 at 2:06 am

    I’m curious to learn about the onset diabetes (type 2) with covid. is it reversible? what’s the probability of occurrence? and what’s the mechanism?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 25, 2022 at 8:48 am

      I think the jury is still out! There is definitely a lifestyle component during lockdown but some also hypothesize the virus could impact beta cells. Not yet understood yet …

  • Reply Nisha March 25, 2022 at 10:37 am

    Hi Sarah, i just finished reading a great about about mindfulness and self-compassion, “Good Morning, I Love You.”
    I interviewed for a job last week and unfortunately didn’t get it and I didnt beat myself over it because I learned about self-compassion in the book. I hope you enjoy the book and maybe have the author on your podcast.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 25, 2022 at 11:41 am

      ooh, thank you for the rec!

  • Reply Taryn March 25, 2022 at 11:48 am

    For screens they aren’t allowed during the week. And on the weekends they watch an hour of TV Saturday and Sunday mornings while my husband and I drink coffee. They don’t have iPads or play video games thank goodness. Occasionally we will do family movie night and eat dinner on tray tables but that’s maybe once a month. My kids are wonderful at entertaining themselves and each other. My 10-year old plays piano and reads a lot. Or plays outside with the neighbors. My 8-year old plays with her dolls, does lots of art projects, cooks, or plays outside with the neighbors.

  • Reply Jen April 2, 2022 at 9:32 am

    Yay Blossom cover!

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