Full Circle

The following post was sponsored by Circle. Thanks, Circle!
IMG_8461 this photo was brought to you by: a screen and us staring into it.

A few months back I wrote about enforcing our kids' screen time on Mom.me. I didn't have an answer then and I do not have an answer now. My kids are 10 1/2, 7, 4 and 4 and none of them have handheld devices (yet) so the idea that someday we will all be on our screens, side by side on the couch, seems... well... I'm still in denial. I mean, I get it. I know what's coming. But I'm still in denial. 

That said, I spend a huge amount of time on my devices. If I'm not on my computer, my phone is in my pocket and if I'm wearing something WITHOUT pockets, chances are my phone is stashed somewhere on my person, in my boot or bra or folded against my waist in my yoga pants. It's gross and ridiculous but it's the truth. I feel naked without a screen touching my body in some way. And that didn't used to be the case. Which is a problem. So. When I was approached by Circle to talk about "enforcing screen time," I was wooed by my desire to write about MY (and Hal's) screen time issues and how we are modeling screen-dependency to our children. I was also wooed by my desire to support a product that enforces screen time while censoring certain content without eavesdropping in a child's inbox. (Trust/privacy was a HUGE deal for me as a tween/teenager and it is a huge deal for me as a parent of one tween/teenager... soon to be four.)
As I stated in last month's post, I am a huge proponent for regulated screen time and creating time when screens should be off limits, not just for kids but for me and Hal. WE ARE the focus of this post because WE are the ones with the problem -- because one cannot stress the importance of screen-free time without looking in his/her own mirror.

I found the following information on techhive which ultimately sold me on giving CIRCLE a test drive in my home: 

Oh, snap. THIS. THIS is what I have been talking about. This is what is important to me. Just say no to apps that spy on kids and yes to those that limit screen time and cut access to certain places on the Internet that are FAR too easy to access. 
Here are the filters set on "adult", but I wanted to show this part to you guys in case your young children have their own devices and filtering content was something that might interest you. 

When I wrote my last post, a teacher commented on Facebook that she takes her students' phones away from them when they enter the classroom and that they are GRATEFUL not to have them for an hour. Because that's what it feels like to be separated from one's phone. It feels like a relief.  (I feel that way when I go to Pilates class. I feel like I AM FREE! NOBODY CAN CONTACT ME! I CANNOT CHECK MY EMAIL! PLANKING IS HARD! Etc.)

 I actually feel like CIRCLE was built with schools/classrooms in mind and would love to hear from the teachers in the house if you have heard of this product or if it sounds like something you would use in your classroom. As far as I know, there is no such thing at our school and I often wonder how devices are monitored on school grounds and/or if this is something we will have to worry about next year when Archer starts middle school and we will likely get him a phone.
IMG_8957 Greetings from Rainbowland!

Since my kids are yet to have devices (save for Archer's school-lent computer which is already blocked to pretty much everything, including YouTube), the only devices we have yet to use CIRCLE for are our own. Hal has an iPad, a laptop and an iPhone and I have an iPhone and a laptop. 

We discussed "offscreen" time so that we can: 

A. Read more books. 
B. Have more conversations.
C. Learn to better manage our work schedules during normal business hours, because I have been waking up at 5:30 three mornings a week and I can't work until 2am anymore. It's insane. I need sleep. Which brings me  to... 
D. Sleep more
E. Curb our addiction before our kids are old enough to replicate our behavior with their own devices. 
F. Collaborate and decide on weekly sabbaticals (Thursday from 3-bedtime we are screen-free, etc.) that everyone in the house must agree to. Use that time to do something as a family. Game night? Puzzle night? Dance party night?
G. Watch more movies. It's screener season up in here and I have only seen one of the 79878 DVDs we currently have in a stack taunting us with their award-season potential. AND, NO, THE TV SCREEN DOES NOT COUNT. I cannot stick a television set in my bra strap.

So far, so good. And, yes, Hal and I are using a product directed at children on ourselves.  Because we're the ones in desperate need of a device that acts more like a parent to keep our shit on lock. WE are the problem. WE need to make a change...

Anyway. This little device is forcing us to talk to each other. Ish. Which brings to me to the end of this post because GUESS WHAT TIME IT IS! IT'S TIME TO UNPLUG. Seven minutes and this computer and my poor screen-exhausted eyes will self-destruct. (9:30!)
Off to read a book in my bed, even though I will try several times to check my email and find myself brutally rebuffed by Mama Circle. (The hope is that, eventually, I will stop going to my phone before bed because I will be conditioned not to. We'll see, Pavlov. We'll see.) 

In the meantime...  I am literally racing against the clock to wrap this post up so I can say goodnight to my laptop and say good evening to my book. Thank you, Circle, for hooking us up with a device to parent our devices. It's been an eye-opening trip to be sure.

P.S. This is what happened about an hour later.
 WOMP WOMP/High five. 

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