The trouble with screen time

The trouble with screen time

“What time can we start screens in the morning?”

“What time do we have to get off screens?”

“If I get dressed, can I go back on screens?”

“We’re so bored. Can we have screens?”

“Alexa, make an announcement . . . ‘TIME TO GET OFF SCREENS!’”

It feels like all I do these days is police the amount of screen time in our house.

I get especially twitchy when I feel our son and daughter are spending too much time on screens because “screen time” today is very different now than it was when they were younger.

Back in the day, they’d eat their Goldfish crackers together at their child-sized table and chairs, watching episodes of Bubble Guppies up on the living room TV. They were mostly zoned out, of course, but at least they were together – and my husband or I was nearby, half-listening. It felt OK.

But now they’re miles apart from each other even when they’re in the same room. They each have headphones clamped on their ears, connected to their own devices. Our 10-year-old son is either on his computer or his Nintendo Switch, and our eight-year-old daughter is either on the Chromebook or the tablet.

Continue reading in my parenting column, The Mom Scene …



I cringed when my kids ran up to a family of strangers on the beach the other day, asking if they wanted to see their bucket full of hermit crabs. Then the dad coughed, basically right on them, while I watched from across the sand, horrified.

“But we don’t have to social distance anymore?” they argued when I called them over and told them, in no uncertain terms, not to run up to strangers and be coughed on.

“Oh yes, you do still have to social distance!”

I keep telling them that, but it’s not easy to explain the vague, ever-changing rules of the moment — that it’s OK for people to hug when it’s a group of 10, but not 11. That the group of 10 should be exclusive if possible, but it’s not mandatory. That crowds of up to 50 are OK, but you have to social distance. That there are no bubbles anymore, but if you’re already in a group of 10 and your former bubble arrives on the scene, then …  oh, I don’t even know.

It is a strange time for all of us, but especially for kids.

We’re basically in a holding pattern this summer. We’re not as restricted as we were for nearly three long months, but we’re also not back in “real life.” Everything is different …  and weird.

Continue reading in my parenting column, The Mom Scene …

Dear Kids: Part I

I haven’t been blogging much lately.

Blogging was something I did “before.” It doesn’t feel like something I do “after” — at least, not yet. Not while the world is still on fire. I almost can’t bring myself to look at this 12+ year archive sometimes, written at different times in my life but all of those times are so, so different than what we’re dealing with now.

I haven’t been blogging or DIYing, but I am always, always writing. I have been focusing on my work (blessedly almost back to normal levels) as well as writing my novel (I’m up to 124,000+ words and getting so close). And sometimes I write random notes on my phone that eventually turn into blog posts. Like this.

Here is a note I wrote back in April. Let’s call it Part I …


Dear kids,

I checked your toes and fingers today for purplish lesions. It’s the latest possible symptom of the virus that’s keeping us locked inside, away from school and activities and friends.

I know I should stop reading articles about symptoms and risk factors because they terrify me, but if I stopped I’d worry I might miss something — a warning sign that meant you were sick with “it,” with “the virus,” with the thing I try not to say out loud.

I wonder what you’re remembering about this time, this pandemic, if you read this post in the future.

I know you won’t remember what you didn’t see, like me creeping into your bedrooms at night to make sure you were breathing. To make sure the virus hadn’t somehow stolen you away from me, just because you had a bit of a cough. Silent tears rolling down into my hair, berating myself for not getting refills on the old puffers you’d bad for previous coughs, just in case they would help right now because something HAD to help, right?!

Will you remember how I went crazy buying different kinds of cough syrup, because that’s what they recommended we do in the beginning? And Tylenol — all the Tylenol — because Advil might kill us or something. That was in March, maybe early April.

Oh, and the food. When it became difficult to get things at the grocery store, I went a little nuts stockpiling some basics in a few bags in the basement — crackers, cereal, juice, applesauce, pasta, canned goods. You found it. Mom’s Basement Food, you called it. You thought it was weird and kind of funny. I told you it was because I couldn’t fit it all up in the kitchen, but really it was my secret, scared stash. The food I reasoned we might need if the shelves were bare, in a world where our poor little Superstore was full of smoke and looters and screams.

But wait, you might be asking, food shortages? The whole world shutdown? HOW many people died?! Let me go back to the beginning.

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