By Peg Rosen

It hit me about two months ago that evenings in front of the TV, video games, and computer at my house had finally gotten out of control. So I came up with an idea:

The kids would have to turn off all screens at 9 p.m. and keep them off until bedtime. (To stave off a full-blown revolt, I'd get TiVo so they could catch up with whatever they might miss.)

Oddly, it was my husband who argued the hardest against this little campaign of mine.

"What do you expect them to do all night?" Exactly my point. Getting the boys off the screen actually was a cinch (I'm still bigger than they are). But I went back to my room to find Paul up to his eyeballs in an NCIS episode. He huffily agreed to shut it off. Five minutes later, he was on his Blackberry answering emails and I was happily looking up recipes on my laptop. The boys, however, were deep into a fistfight and utterly miserable. What were we thinking? If we wouldn't walk the walk, why wouldn't they?

So with some serious sweet talk and bargaining, I got Paul offline and I logged off myself. And, wouldn't you know it, something really cool happened. Four hapless people with no screen to turn on gravitated toward each other. We all sat on our king bed and joked around. Paul even pulled out his guitar and practiced with the boys. We've been screen free after 9 p.m. for two months now, and we've gotten into a groove. Sometimes I'll read out loud with my 10-year-old (who knew he still liked it?) while Paul and my older son horse around with the dog. Way better than plugging into machines, we've plugged into each other. Turns out, it's easier done than said.


Peg Rosen is a freelance writer and the mother of two boys. She regularly blogs at relish-this.blogspot.


Parenting - 9 PM Blackout