We’re raising our children in an environment completed saturated by technology. As I sat down to write this blog, I did a census of the technology around our house and I was horrified with (and almost too embarrassed to share) the results. But more worrisome than the devices (5 computers, 2 TVs, 4 cell phones, 3 Kindles, 2 smart watches, 2 iPads, 2 Wiis, 1 fitness tracker, 1 DS, 1 Nintendo Switch, and our Alexa and Google Home speakers) is the fact that we’ve gotten into some bad habits recently.

I haven’t seen our dining room table in a month. Between the school work, the ever-growing mountain of paperwork, and the for-sale items cluttering our table as we prepare for our move to China, we haven’t been able to eat together as a family. If we push things to the side, a few of us can eat in shifts. But this is NOT normal! Of all the disconcerting realizations I made in the last 20 minutes, the fact that we’re not eating together is the most troubling.

So what’s gone wrong at the Langlands house? Are we too lazy? Too busy? Too disorganized? Or are Rob and I just modeling unacceptable behaviors with ridiculous excuses?

If I’m honest… I think it’s a combination of all of the above with a bigger dash of the latter. I can’t expect the kids to go outside and explore when I haven’t even gotten out of my pajamas yet today.

Technology is in our lives forever. And it’s true that technology never sleeps. But it doesn’t mean we, the parental unit, can’t force technology-free time. Rob and I need to go back to the rules that we established so many years ago when we first put devices in to our kids’ hands:

For complete transparency: I didn’t create this list. I think it all came from a PYP classroom contract poster I saw in someone’s classroom. But as I reflect on where we were and where we are right now, I wondered:

Are we being respectful of our family time?
Am I being honest with myself about our family’s connection and cohesion right now?
Are Rob and I being responsible examples to our children or are we allowing the work-life balance to sway in one direction?
Are we being grateful for one another and enjoying each other’s company? Let’s be honest–this time won’t last forever and with our first kid attending prom last night, the end of these nightly sessions are in sight.
Are we being kind to each other or are we being apathetic towards each others’ needs because, “Let me just finish this game” or “I’m listening to NPR right now!”?

And since I promised transparency through my COETAIL 2 adventure, I can admit–we’ve failed.

(30 minutes later)

I hate failing… And I always say, when you know better, you do better. So after I reflected, wiped a small tear from my cheek, I cleaned the dining room table COMPLETELY! No excuses. Dinner plans were already in the works, but tonight, we sit down together to eat and chat. Topic of conversation–how are we all feeling with regards to the tech rules and technology balance in our family?

If they feel as I do, we need to get out of our own way and return to how it used to be with a clean dining room table, our regular check-ins, device free bedrooms, and nightly family chore time (not just mama and papa doing it with Audible and NPR to keep them company).

We can get back to where we were but it’ll take some effort. Scientists say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and since that’s about the time it took us to get into this bad habit, I say it’s pretty reasonable we’ll be out of it soon.

But more than that, I know what I have to do to coach my parent community. I’ve gotta be open. I have to share with them my own failures and successes to demonstrate that it’s possible to bounce back.

… I hope they’re willing to listen.