The Podcast

HERE COMES MAY / Screen Time Preview

April 19, 2023

This episode reminded me of what is coming:

Linked here!

Yes. Busy May is a thing. I have a work conf in CA and there are 99 jillion school events and invitations. Yesterday I received an email with dates of A + C’s “bridging ceremonies” – kind of like graduations to the next Montessori level (and two separate dates . . . le sigh).

I have had a child at the school for 4 years now (started with G, then C, then 2 years all 3) but this will be our first bridging experience. C bridges from Lower Elementary (grades 1-3, all together) to Upper Elementary (grades 4-5). A bridges from Upper Elementary to Middle (grades 6-8).

Anyway, great to send the dates (though more notice would have been awesome) but no times were given yet. Some of us might need to move patients (or podcast recording sessions, or anything else). NEED A HEADS UP!

Rant over. But I am bracing myself . . . this episode was a good reminder but also encouragement to make other things easy in the midst of a more chaotic season. (It also made me really side eye C’s recent commitment to a 4 day/week lacrosse clinic for 2 weeks in May but . . . oh well.)

I finally recorded my screen time BLP ep yesterday.

I hope it came out okay. The first part was great – two listeners shared accounts of what it felt like to move on (either completely or mostly) from screen-centered pursuits + social media. Loved sharing these stories ! But the rest felt emotional and ranty, honestly — not my usual mood when I hit the microphone.

I am sad that people (including at times myself) have spent such a significant fraction of their lives staring at social media (or an angry comments section, or polarizing YouTube, etc).

I am sad that my kids have to content with this in addition to all of the OTHER challenges of being pre-teens/adolescents/young adults.

I am sad/freaked out that even though I am FULLY aware that it isn’t how I personally want to be spending my time, when I’m super stressed or tired the first thing I want to do is still scroll (no IG/FB etc so it’s usually Reddit, strava, or compulsive email checking. I still hate it.)

Anyway. Warning you all in advance, I guess!

Here are my initial notes . . . which are analogue in this case though I ultimately wrote my outline in Apple Notes as I always do 🙂


  • Reply Katie April 19, 2023 at 1:46 pm

    Not that I need more random things to scroll….but I’m very curious which subreddits you browse 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 19, 2023 at 2:07 pm

      Mostly running and some snarky stuff that does not enrich my life in any way whatsoever but is tempting to read nonetheless. And the hobonichi one 🙂

  • Reply Gillian April 19, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    I remember once in May waking in a cold sweat thinking about all the events. That year we had two graduation/stepping up ceremonies, a baptism, a first communion, a ballet recital and the list went on. I actually sat down at 3 am and figured out who would likely be graduating from what all the way through like 2038 (when our youngest could be graduating from college). I keep that piece of paper in the back of my planner. This year we have 0 big events but 2024 is a big one for us–two graduations (5th grade and 8th grade), a confirmation and a first communion.

  • Reply Lee April 19, 2023 at 7:36 pm

    Every year, I felt May would be my undoing. All those end of year concerts and graduation and NHS ceremonies. This is the first year of having an empty nest, and I’m hoping I will appreciate it.

  • Reply Coree April 20, 2023 at 4:09 am

    Oof, our schools don’t finish until 28 June, but it still seems really busy. For some reason, school is closed for 3 Mondays in May??? Normal bank holiday, the coronation (so one good thing about a monarchy), and then a teacher training day. We do need to have a calendar summit and figure out how we’re covering things.

    I’ve got one more week of teaching, come home via a workshop in England (just need Wales and I’d get the 4 nations of the UK in a single week), am home for 3 days, and then back to help lead a MA student fieldtrip to Brussels. My husband and son are meeting me in work city and we’re spending coronation weekend there, as we’ve all realised that me being away for 6+ days is too long? 5 is fine, the wheels start to come off after 6. They’ll head home and I’ll wrap up in work city – hopefully until the end of August!

    Summer camp sign ups haven’t opened yet which is making me vaguely anxious.

  • Reply Chelsea April 20, 2023 at 7:36 am

    Could you ask another parent who has been through a bridging ceremony if they typically do them at a certain time? Obviously they could always change the time from previous years but at least it would give you some idea.

    Related to scrolling… I was talking to someone recently who was really encouraging me to put the Kindle app on my phone. I’d said that I’d taken all the “bad” apps off my phone but then I’d have a random 5 minutes and check Zillow or the weather for the hundredth time. I haven’t done it yet, but he said he just trained himself to click the Kindle app every time he felt the urge to scroll. The only thing holding me back from it is finding the right book that can be read in tiny chunks. And also… part of me thinks… in the old says, in that type of situation, I’d have been reading the back of a shampoo bottle, lol. Is scrolling Zillow really worse?

    • Reply Coree April 20, 2023 at 7:53 am

      Oh I have a rec for this. The one sec app lets you divert yourself to “good” apps. I do it to substack since I like reading newsletters and kindle app. I think interesting newsletters are a nice use of time.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2023 at 9:26 am

      I did but each class is a different time and I’m not sure I can assume year to year consistency. I did manage to get the times from last year!

  • Reply Kersti April 20, 2023 at 8:41 am

    I find that I spend less time on screens when I don’t try to control it. Eventually I get bored and want to do something else. And I don’t think there’s any wrong with scrolling to relax. There is a lot of good content (including this blog) on the internet!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2023 at 9:28 am

      The “crowding out” (ie make sure you are doing other things you enjoy) strategy makes so much sense to me.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns April 20, 2023 at 8:50 am

    When I was a child, we only had kindergarten graduation and high school graduation. I do not feel that I missed out by not having all of these other ceremonies along the way. As 1 of 5 children, I am sure my parents were VERY GLAD they didn’t have several “graduation” type of events for each child. Maybe I am just not sentimental enough to appreciate all these transitional ceremonies? Like the more you have, the less special they might be? Our oldest will “graduate” from preschool this May/June. We are putting him in our public school’s summer program in June so I thought he’d miss the graduation ceremony which usually happens in August. But this year they are moving it to May/June so we won’t miss it. I’m sure it will be cute and we’ll attend but it just doesn’t seem all that important in the grand scheme of things?

    I’m excited to hear your screen time episode even though you fear you might be ranty. I was completely inspired by you to leave social media and I honestly do not miss it one bit, nor do I feel pulled to it. I’m in the middle of the BOBW episode with Gretchen, so maybe I’m not pulled to it just as she isn’t pulled to sweets? Like my brain has edited out the temptation? I still spend a decent amount of time on my phone as I do wordle, spelling bee and my obsession is octordle. But those are all one game/day things I do and I figure it’s good for my brain. I know I miss out on seeing friends kids, etc, but overall, the benefits of being off social media far outweigh anything I’m missing. I wish social media did not exist. I think our world is worse off as a result. I obviously have a blog and read blogs but find that to be very different from social media.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2023 at 9:27 am

      Me too. I never feel like reading and commenting on blogs feels toxic or like a waste of time!

  • Reply Emily April 20, 2023 at 9:50 am

    I know you’ve posted a lot in the past about your approach to screen time and kids, but I would love to see a post on your thinking w/r/t kids’ phones and how you intend to monitor phone use/content if/when your kids eventually get phones. My kids are roughly A and C’s ages and although we haven’t gotten them phones yet, they ask for them constantly and many of their friends already have them (which kind of surprised me when I started to realize that!).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 20, 2023 at 10:33 am

      No phones yet; I plan to wait until 7-8th grade. A has a friend in 6th grade who doesn’t have one and I am following their lead for now. They do have iPads, so when allowed to use them (mostly weekends) they can do text chats. No social media. A (for now) continues to agree with me that social media does more harm than good so we will lay off as long as possible.

      G we only let her play certain games (Toca Boca world mostly) and watch PBS kids. We used to allow kids youtube but one day she asked us why her life wasn’t as good as some youtube kid and we were like – no more.

  • Reply rachelinwales April 20, 2023 at 4:16 pm

    “I am sad/freaked out that even though I am FULLY aware that it isn’t how I personally want to be spending my time, when I’m super stressed or tired the first thing I want to do is still scroll”

    I so hear you on this one! Even though I don’t even have much access to scrolling opportunities I still feel that pull to drown myself in internet when I am tired/stressed. Usually it’s over checking the news, which is so pointless and never makes me feel good. And I am sometimes sad because I know I am super aware of my own intentions and worries about internet usage and I still find myself sucked in… and many other people don’t think about it at all.

    I have a theory that right now is the wild west of the internet/apps, and all of the “attention economy” and “attention capitalism” things that make up the internet now may somehow not exist in 20 years. And maybe in 20 years people will look back on now and think “yikes, what a terrible & traumatic time that was”.

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