ScreenStrong Families

Parents, Put Down the Smartphone with Mary Laird Garrison (#107)

June 22, 2022 Mary Laird Garrison
ScreenStrong Families
Parents, Put Down the Smartphone with Mary Laird Garrison (#107)
Show Notes Transcript

Today, Melanie is joined by ScreenStrong mom, Mary Laird Garrison, to discuss screen tips for young children, being intentional with screen time, and encouraging parents to put down their own devices and live out the ScreenStrong Lifestyle for their kids.


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Production Team:

  • Host—Melanie Hempe
  • Producer & Audio Editor—Olivia Kernekin
Melanie Hempe:

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the ScreenStrong families podcast, bringing you the best solutions for parents who are serious about preventing and eliminating spring conflicts and addiction in their home. This is Melanie Hampi, and I'm so glad you're here today. I hope you're having a great day. I just want to welcome everyone. And if you are new, we are so glad you found us. Today, I have a young mom with me to talk about getting started on the right foot when it comes to screen. Addiction prevention. Welcome Mary Laird garrison. So glad you're here. I just wanted to say Hi, and welcome. And I wanted to introduce you before I tell my little story. Is that okay?

Mary Laird Garrison:

Yeah, that's great. Yeah, I love your little intro. That's great. So like I was listening to you on the podcast?

Melanie Hempe:

Yes. So every time before I start a podcast, I mean, you guys out there might think that I have all these little stories planned. I do not. Usually it's just a few minutes before I start a podcast, I think, oh, what's the latest thing happening that I can talk about? Anyway, let me tell you about my little story. So we are learning about gardening. And I have been learning about gardening for many years, I am not a gardener, you've discovered that

Mary Laird Garrison:

you can teach me all the things you're learning because I'm

Melanie Hempe:

not either this is not like. And mostly because you know, gardens take a lot of attention, right. And so we have, you know, you've seen our backyard and we have this big long area in our backyard that would be perfect for a garden. But the problem is, it's kind of our way, it's like you have to walk down stairs and go out to it and take care of it. So we have planted certain gardens and usually do pretty well when they first get started. But then they don't do very well. Well, this last year, I decided that I was going to talk to an expert about tomatoes, I could at least do tomatoes, right? So I went to run for his hardware, which is right down here in our little town where we live and spoke with a gentleman who was I don't know, maybe in his 90s. And he had been growing wonderful tomatoes for like a long time. So I said, Sir, please tell me how to grow tomatoes. So I learned so much about growing tomatoes. So let me just tell you a couple things that I've learned. The first thing is it really matters the way that you plant them. That's a really big deal. Like I didn't know that, like I would just get tomatoes and get the little four inch pot and stick it in the ground. And I thought that was okay. And he's like, no, no, no, no, no. The second thing is you got to keep the weeds out. So those are the two things that are really important. So and I know everybody has heard a lot of analogies about raising kids and gardens. And that's not my analogy today. Okay, but I have to tell you about these tomatoes. So just bear with me. And now I'm coming to you for tomatoes. So now you're Yes, and you will and a few months I will have tons of tomatoes like we did last year. So anyway, this, like I said it was at the hardware store. It's called Red froze if y'all are listening, and you want to get the directions and the instructions how to do this and go on their website. And I will tell you how to do that you go to Resources and vegetables and tomatoes, and you can find the instructions. So on that instructions, it says the number one killer of tomato plants is the gardener. I'm like Yes, that's me. And he or she usually kills the plants by either over fertilizing or over watering. So some of these things that you think are just really culturally approved. Like, why wouldn't you fertilize? Why wouldn't you water? You know, they're not always the right thing to do. And so you have to dig a little deeper and figure out how to do this. So this gentleman told me the secret. He said you have to plant them deep and what you do, he said you go against your instincts. And I thought, oh my gosh, that's really hard to do. He said you take this plant and I bought my plants that rainforest and they're really tall. They're like 18 inches tall. He said, I want you to take all the leaves off from the bottom up and only leave like two little leaves at the top. And I'm like no, I can't strip the leaves off because yes, you're going to strip the leaves off, then you're going to plant a really deep hole. If you can't get the hole as deep as you want it then you make it like a U turn hole or you you you dig down and then over to the side and then you lay the plant in there. What do you said your goal is is to get as many roots to grow as possible. He said if you just plant the little pot, that it's only going to be a few roots. If you take those leaves off everywhere where you took a leave off there's going to be a root so it's really not very pretty at first because you dig this big hole. You throw a little bit of fertilizer in the hole but it doesn't but not where it's touching the plant. And then you only have these little leaves sticking at the top. And everybody's like what my family was like WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? I'm like I'm trusting this guy because they

Mary Laird Garrison:

are shaving cat walking around.

Melanie Hempe:

There's nothing left there's nothing there and so it goes against like culture right because you want to see these beautiful tomato plants right away. We want this instant gratification. But what you are doing is you are making those roots right really healthy, you're making them sprout everywhere where there was a leaf, and it makes them really strong. So the more roots then the more nutrients the plant can get in the key is that they don't have to be watered every day, I think I was drowning my plants before and then the fungus grows and all this crazy things happen. So but Okay, so that's not my analogy. My analogy is not about tomatoes, and our kids are like tomato plants, because they kind of are I mean, you know, the deeper the roots, and the more you take care of them, then the stronger they're going to be for sure. And our crop last year was unbelievable, we were just like, giving tomatoes out to all of our neighbors and huge tomatoes. And they were just wonderful. And it was really, really fun. I have all my friends talking about my tomatoes, right? But the analogy is in the weeds, and I started thinking about it this morning, because we were out weeding this weekend. But you know, with a little rain that we're having this week, because see, naturally, we get rain, and that's all the water they need. But we're going to have a ton of weeds again, because this is what we it's you know, we'd say just gearing like you don't even understand how are there so many weeds. So if our kids are like the tomato plants, then weeds are the screen. And so really, right, it's just like that screen time, it's just they just it just pops up all the time and you have to take care of it, you have to stay on top of it. If we did not stay on top of these weeds, then we wouldn't be able to even see our tomato plants, right because the weeds get so tall. So fast. Like I've got some crazy weeds out there. I don't understand the variety. But they literally can get two feet tall overnight. I don't understand it. But so think about this, when you're thinking about raising your kids in this culture that we live in, you've got to give them really deep roots, you've got to do some homework, you got to talk to some people, like my sweet 90 year old friend who has done this, he's done this for years, he knows what he's doing. So for all the young moms out there, this show is going to be kind of for you. We're going to talk about young kids and young moms and the specific challenges that you have. But I want you to also think about weeds as screens or screens as weeds. And you know, at first you think oh, there's just these little weeds, these little screen times that you have during your your day. But you've got to keep it under control, you have to almost lead almost every day right in the garden because I don't want these weeds taking over. You are the overseer of your family garden. And so you determine what gets to grow in that bed to plant your kids deep in your values and your morals and put the things only the things in there that you want them to get and then keep the screen weeds out so your kids can grow. So that's my little story this morning. I am so excited because I just picked like five tomatoes. I can't believe I already got the

Mary Laird Garrison:

first little Badman and Debbie yesterday to make his factory grow one thing

Melanie Hempe:

you can grow Yeah, and I'm gonna give you some tomatoes before you leave some of our first crop summary layered let's get to your story about ScreenStrong. Tell us about yourself in about your family. First, tell me about your kids. And

Mary Laird Garrison:

so I'm My name is Mary Laird. I'm married to a man named Willa, Willa and I met here in Charlotte right out of college and got married in 2013. And we have an Ryan, Francis and Lucy. And Ryan is six and a half. She just finished kindergarten. Francis is our middle and she will be four in September. And then Lucy will be two in just about a month.

Melanie Hempe:

Oh my goodness. So a six a half. Full almost four and almost two. Okay, yeah. All right. Well, y'all remember those days out there. If you're listening and you have kids in middle school, just take a minute. And just remember what that's like. To have little

Mary Laird Garrison:

is different. I worked part I worked full time when Ryan was born until she was about 18 months. And so I did that for a while. And then I started staying home when she was about 18 months old. And so now I'm home with them and do some part time work. But it was it was different with Francis and Lucy. Because that wasn't home within Ryan. So it's been fun. It's been different, right kind of growing and learning about what it looks like to be with them. Miss the day and

Melanie Hempe:

this challenging. Yeah, I know. I mean, I remember those days. And again, if you're listening and you don't have little kids, please listen to this because you are going to have friends that have little kids and toddlers and oh my goodness, this screen prevention information is so rich at this age, there's so many things that you can do and kind of like that garden in those weeds. All of a sudden things start happening right and overnight. You just don't realize. So talk about that talk about just your, you know, when we met and then we talked and then I think you did some thing. I think you made some changes. Yeah.

Mary Laird Garrison:

So I had a friend actually introduced me to Melanie we had a mutual friend who had actually heard me talk about my impersonal I struggle with screens and just my own phone. And I talked about that I'm not really a TV watcher, like I don't really struggle with watching TV or movies, but I definitely like struggle with using my phone and the constant access to it and the need to respond to something and urges, yes, and social media and just getting lost down a rabbit hole of spending 45 minutes, which doesn't sound like that much time. But if you're spending 45 minutes every day, looking at stuff that actually doesn't really matter. And not only does it not matter, but sometimes it has a negative effect on me, it just isn't a great way to spend my time. And I was feeling just constantly convicted about that. And so this friend that had heard me share a lot about that introduced me to Melanie, and then I honestly hadn't really thought about it in our own home, because we aren't really there yet when it comes to screens with phones and video games, but we were watching TV pretty frequently. And when I say frequently, I mean the TV was on at least a day, at least once a day for me to just have Sure, some time alone, which I think is not. And I like have struggled with this. Like I don't want to make people feel bad about the decisions that they're making. But it's like unless you understand why you're doing what you're doing. And then the impact that it can that it has, it's hard to make the shift. And I think for me, I was doing that just to get a break in what I've realized and taking it not taking it and take it away, I just was had an approach after talking to Melanie of like maybe if we just tried to just do other things, or redirect the energy or whatever, like, let's just see what would happen. And not even on purpose, I noticed a significant change in my six and a half year old and four year olds behavior, where they were using TV to numb out at the end of the day, and now they're doing reading or playing in their room or whatever. And they're just the meltdowns just are less is really the only way to describe it. And I would say that's the biggest problem that we have a habit this age is just whining and melting down it for our six year old four year old material. That's really what it is. And so I was realizing that I would let them watch 30 minutes of a show. And then I'd turn it off and spend 30 minutes trying to undo the frustration that they were feeling from only watching 30 minutes of a show. And it was always like when we watch a show and we watch a show and we watch a show. And I feel like that has sort of dwindled. It's not non existent. And I don't I never want to do it to be like a rule follower. I just I feel like I've realized that it's just better for all of us, in our family when we have reduced the amount of time that they are watching TV. And they're looking to other things, which is the sweetest thing. Like there's so many resources now to find other things like for me to get the time that I want that I'm craving so badly to just chill for a second. Sure. There's other things that I can help them do. Right. It doesn't have to be a TV.

Melanie Hempe:

So back up a second. So what was your typical day? Like? Great question, you know, before Yeah, yeah. Or I mean, because and I know that we have very short memory. Yes, you know. But, yeah, you've got your hands full. Yeah.

Mary Laird Garrison:

I mean, the morning was not really TV time, because it was like we got up, took a ride to school, we came back we took the I took the girls to preschool. And so that was our time, it was more like in the afternoon when they get home and and Ryan was so tired that my temptation was to

Unknown:

chill out everybody.

Mary Laird Garrison:

You interview and Francis can watch TV while Lucy takes a nap. And then they would watch a show and then they'd have a meltdown, watching the show. And then they'd recover and we'd kind of play in the afternoon. And then when I was trying to fix dinner, that was another time that they would usually watch TV. So I would say like the most they were watching TV was probably an hour and a half to two hours the least they were probably watching us 30 minutes, which doesn't seem like that much. But you know, it just is like the trance that negative and you watch and you're like, oh my gosh, they're not even listening to me. They can't even hear me when I'm talking to them. So that was really what a typical day was and I used that hour so the afternoon that I was doing because I would like I would want to exercise or I would want to read or I would want to close the highest or whatever I are so tired. And so it definitely is was scary for me personally because I think I struggle with like wanting to keep peace and wanting to just make sure that like I'm taking care of mentally so that I can take care of them and so I felt very afraid of like okay, well what happens when I take that away? from me? Like what am What am I going to get from what more frustrated them easily? Am I going to be too tired at the end of the day? Take care of them? Am I going to be mad at my husband when he comes home because I'm exhausted like those are all really deep fears I have when it came to taking away the TV. So what happened? So you we talked I know we met on a Friday for lunch and I just was like, I'm just gonna try to not watch TV and honestly talking to Melanie, if you haven't spending time talking to Melanie, it just is very annoying. Like me and encouraging and just empowering honestly, like, it just makes you realize, like, I want what's best for my kids. And I felt like after talking to you that Friday, I was like, what's best for my kids is not to watch TV every day.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah. And it's not only just the time they're watching TV, even if the contents okay, what you were, what you're describing is the reaction like, yes, the the meltdown like is it worth it?

Mary Laird Garrison:

Yeah, it's just not worth it. And it wasn't worth it for us. And it was not like it just felt like something. I mean, it felt like a drug which you describe it a lot. So I just stopped and we'd had some bad meltdowns with our oldest and I told my husband about two weeks later, I was like, I I think they've they've been reduced, like, they're not happening as often. And, you know, I don't know if that was because they were so big. I don't know if it was a TV. I don't know if it was her mood. I don't know if it was what but I couldn't help but think that that had to do with that. And they're just more creative. Like she's been doing art. She's been drawing though my middle one, like likes to play imagination. Like they're just, they'll do other things. If they're not. Now it took it definitely took them a couple of days. Just now, you know, recently that we met for the first time ever thought maybe ever two months ago. And I would say there are some moments where they struggle, and they're bored, and they want to watch TV. And I'm like, let's just try to think of something else to do. And we haven't like they've watched TV in past two months. Right? So we had us we have a Saturday Night Movie Night, every once in a while. Like, it's not like it's gone. It just is more like, Okay, let's try to figure out something else to do before we use the television to kind of give us our fix and entertain us. And honestly, it's the shows like my mom said something like, Well, you know, we all watch TV when we were younger or whatever. And like, we know, my mom, and my dad said something like that. And I was like, Yeah, but like it's just different content. And it's just different images and the way that it captures their attention and just the graphics and just how interactive it is. Like, it just it just looks different. It's

Melanie Hempe:

a whole different ballgame. It's not the Brady Bunch. No. And

Mary Laird Garrison:

it's the graphics are different. Like even if you turn on Bambi, like we watched, they watched Bambi the other day. Yeah. And you look at your watch Bambi and then you turn on something like, in Konto. Yeah, and it's just a totally different thing. Like the colors are different, right? This way that they move on the screen. And like if you think about kids in their brains, like, yeah, they're gonna have a different response to that.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah, it's very stimulating. And the science is so clear on this. And there's been lots of research on the fact of when you have a screen change every three seconds in a movie, or you know, like Spongebob. Like, we always kind of pick on Spongebob, because that's so frenetic, it's called it's, it changes so rapidly. For our adult brain, it just kind of, you know, first of all, I think that's such a kind of crazy cartoon, I don't understand that cartoon. But for our adult brain, it's just like, whatever it just doesn't, it's like our adult brain is kind of cemented over as kind of like, Yeah, whatever, it doesn't affect us the same way. But when you're, when you're little, you know, when your kids are so little, it really affects those neural synapses, right? That are happening, and that synapses gets super stimulated. But then when you're watching Bambi, not so much, it's not the same. It's not the same. Now, those are just some real detail differences. I think the biggest thing is when you'll have family movie night, which we're totally fine with that. And we think that's wonderful. It's very different. When you are co viewing when you were sitting with your child watching even a cartoon, even some of the you don't really want to watch, right, because it's a cartoon, and they're kind of silly, but your child doesn't your child has a very different experience when you're sitting with them. Because you can provide some near ration, you can watch their response, you're just right, present. Right? And that kind of helps their intake. Yes, if that makes sense. Yeah, rather than when you're just in the kitchen cooking, or you're trying to go to the gym or whatever. You know, I remember this day so well. And, you know, your kids are in there just taking all this and because you really don't know if there's something that happens in that cartoon, that they get upset about, right? And it acts like that's not taken care of right then where you can see their reaction and you can say, Honey, it's okay. That bird didn't really mean to carry that person away, right? Some kind of weird scene that can really be upsetting for them. If you're not there to sort of take that in with them, then it's very stressful for them. And then what you were seeing with the meltdowns is very common, right, you turn the TV off and this is the key the TV is sort of the gateway drug and away I'm not saying TV is all bad. Of course, it's not bad. It's different. It's not as interactive. But it is sort of a gateway drug. Yeah. To other screen activities,

Mary Laird Garrison:

what the it's especially with like the movies on the iPad with the road trip thing. I mean, that was something we held off on a long time. And then we did end up doing and then we've, since we met tried to reduce it, we actually made it to the beach and back without Oh, just recently, yeah, you just went to the beach. Yeah. Which was a small miracle. But we'll take I mean, we'll take lots of snacks. And they have these, oh, we get the books on tape. Those are amazing, too. I mean, it's just again, like I said, it's just redirecting, it's just finding another thing to entertain them. But the feedback to the thing really quick on the images I talked to in Ryan's kindergarten teacher about this this year. And she was just telling me that sometimes show me kids that can't imagine anymore. And they're she's like, Okay, imagine you're standing in a field. And they're like, I don't, I can't do that. I do that. And it's because we're watching these, these movies or these shows, with everything's there. And it's like, that's their imagination. It's like, it's It's suffocating that part of their brain that doesn't know how to imagine or they're, it's doing the work for

Melanie Hempe:

them. Yeah, that is a really good point that you brought that up. I remember years and years ago, when Adam was really still pretty little, he had a friend over and that friend went in the backyard. And he imagined this whole medieval town. And he was describing the whole thing to me. And I just thought that was the most fascinating thing that this kid he made up all this stuff. He goes, see this buildings here, and this is here. And this is here. This It was like he saw it. And I've never forgotten that. And I read, I've read so much on this topic of kids and screens. And I've one of the things I read that was really, that really hit me hard is that your imagination is like a muscle and you have to use it. And if your child sees so much of this cartoon stuff, right? Before, they haven't had a chance to really imagine it. Like when you think about a dragon, for example, if you're if you give your child a piece of paper and ask them to draw a dragon, it will just be amazing what comes out of their head. But if they have seen dragons over and over and over and over on Cartoon, then they're just going to draw that they're not going to draw what they would have imagined it right. Right, right. And so that's what we're missing. It's almost like once you see all that you can see it and it kind of chips away like you said their imagination. And that's why kids like to act out cartoons all the time. You know, Power Rangers, you remember that when I was a big deal, or even Barney and all these kinds of cartoons that you think are are good, they they become the character and they act them out. And really you want them to become their own character. Right. And I've been to your house and they love to dress. Yeah. Oh my gosh, the dress up thing. That's a side trail here. But let me tell you that saved our life. Yeah, had a dresser, right? The dresser box. And this is a great tip. If If y'all just go to Goodwill, just go get real light clothes, like you can go to Goodwill and get like, you know, evening gowns. They don't care. They don't care. Oh my gosh, it's so fun. The imagination that comes with all that. So tell us some of the thing. Okay, so you just for people listening out there, they're, they're in your shoes. They're like I have a four year old. There's no way I can not put TV on a couple times a day for me to get my stuff down. What do you what did you do like it first when you just turn the TV off? What

Mary Laird Garrison:

I mean? It's, say it like so like, it's so simple. It's really not that simple. I mean, it's really just the redirecting, like you would give me the ideas of like those activity books, like there's a lot of books of activities. Just try to think about the things that they enjoy. What are they doing that are not screens. My oldest daughter really likes books and likes to read. And I had a friend tell me about these at the Charlotte library. They're called Play aways. They're basically a pre recorded audio book that you use an auxilary cable and you can plug it into a speaker. But you can also use an app like hoopla or Libby and you can download an audio book, like we listened to Matilda on the way to the beach. And so you just it just streams to a Bluetooth speaker. And then like they love sticker books, they love coloring games, like just kind of redirecting to some of those things. I feel like it was really just helping them when they're feeling that because it's crazy. Like my 16 year olds, like I'm bored. Which guess what we all feel that feeling and like as adults like I mean, that was the thing I would struggle with. We don't have to be bored as adults either. If we're bored, we numb out by looking at our phones. Yes, we get on an elevator when's last time we got on an elevator and nobody's not everyone's looking at their phone. It's like insane. So just helping them just say okay, I know this feeling that you have right now I'm very familiar with it. Like, let's think about some things that you can do. Obviously, like, No, I'm not going to tell her go sit in a room and stare at a wall right? Like she has she can do that. But let's think about what books do you have that you enjoy reading? What's the puzzle that you like? Is there a game you want to play? Just kind of helping them and then once they get in doing it? Yeah, it's like a miracle. It's really sweet. What happens? I mean, it's not like yesterday, I would say it was probably a hard De they, the TV didn't come up that often. But we'd gotten this book. Oh, it was the one that was on the ScreenStrong Facebook site. We're from the Ali's place, it was the brown book. Okay, so it was like we were looking in there things to do. And one of the things was like pretend you're on a going on a camping trip. And so they got like the flashlights out of the closet, my daughter got like construction paper and made a fire, they were like building a tent with a nugget, stuff like that. And then they got into a massive fight, because my four year old had knocked it over and my six year old was having a meltdown, you definitely have to do about perfection. So that was frustrating, because I was like, playing so nicely. And then. But it was like this part of it was part of it. And that's how they learn how to do their mission. And see we're very different personalities, like my 16 year olds, like a perfectionist enough, we'll just almost a four year old, like she's just a tornado. And so it was a good learning moment for both of them. But it was, it was worth that to not have to deal with a non TV meltdown.

Melanie Hempe:

Right? I think what you just brought up is really, really important. Because I think screens really steal our sibling relationships with from our kids, you know, from where is when you're, when you're on a screen, when your kids are watching a movie or watching a cartoon, they don't have to interact with each other, it is easier for sure. But I think the reason how, or at least how you and I learned a lot of our EQ skills growing up was in dealing with our siblings, you know, maybe you have a sister you didn't get along with or maybe you had a brother that you did get along. I mean, it doesn't matter. You had to work things out together, even watching shows, you have to argue over are we going to watch, Leave It to Beaver or the Brady Bunch, right Lost in Space was what my brother I think always wanted to watch. And we would just, you know, we would just like compromise. And we did a lot of Fort building when we were going up outside because we lived in Florida for a while and it was we just be outside all the time. couple tips I want to say that you just made me think of is for your girls, that would be really good. When you know, I always say for parents, if you need to buy some things for your kids, buy some things for your kids. And in because let me tell you, I'm like that older gentleman in the hardware store, right? I have this season, parenting season behind me, and I understand how hard it is. But I also understand what the payoffs are. So I always say if it costs less than a counseling visit by it. You know, so that changed my whole attitude when we were raising the younger boys, because with Adam, you know, he was on his computer, or he was on his via game all the time, whatever. And then that was just a disaster down the road. So I made a deal that I mean, we don't buy a ton of stuff for our kids. But if there was something like we ended up buying a trampoline, and you know, at first I was like, Oh, they're so expensive. And I'm like no, this is going to be this is an investment. And this is going to be cheaper than right putting these kids in counseling one day. So that was part of the recipe, I guess. But the other thing, I would get art supplies, you know, and if you have girls, you know, they're gonna love markers and paints and all that kind of stuff. But what I would do, and this is just a good tip for everybody out there that's got little kids is you buy certain things and then you use them and then you put them away for a week. Yes, and then they all of a sudden look new again. Yes, we thought we had that a lot so you don't so it's so fun. You don't have to spend a fortune even though if you did spend a fortune is okay because it's still better than counseling down the road when they're 15 years old. Trust me on that one. When you're out about when you're shopping when you're talking to other moms grab little things even at the dollar store. You know those little dollar store things saved my life yet when my kids were that a crafts are great like for us like we got to Michael's in the event mean it girls and boys mean they've got great little things you can make it mean that it's these are great. And you can always do things like paint rocks, I mean, that's instantly available. So as a mom, you have to start you have to make your list of your in the moment things that you need, you'd have your emergency stash, right of something that you can just pull out. So when you need that moment when you need to go make a phone call or go start dinner or you just need some time by yourself. Go to your emergency stash and pull out something it could just be something so simple from the dollar store, just something that they haven't even seen yet. And give them instructions here. Pretend this is whatever and do it do a play for me and yeah, 15 minutes or 20 minutes, I'm going to come back in here and I want to production I want y'all to create a story or a play or where you have to give them a few little prompts. Yes. And then it's amazing. It's so cute. They just, they just take off and do it and the other thing that I realized even without him when he was that age, if I could just spend 15 minutes with him reading a book sitting on the couch and just invest in him for like 15 minutes. That would buy me like 45 minutes for Real. I mean, it would be like he got his tank full. And so if you're starting to get frustrated out there as a young mom, think about that, think about little 10 minute investments. And then you, you get some clarity of mind and they then go, they want to go play, they'll play with their Legos. Legos when the boys were little. And by the way, Legos are expensive. But again, I thought, okay, it's cheaper than counselling, right? So I would get more Legos.

Mary Laird Garrison:

When someone asked if you can buy a secondhand like I found Oh, for sure enough, just like Toy swapping, sometimes or puzzle swapping, toys swapping.

Melanie Hempe:

Oh, that's that's best. And when our kids got a little bit older than yours are right now, probably they were probably eight or nine or maybe they were seven. We would go to Goodwill. Yeah. And so for like five bucks, they could get you know, a new baseball right bat of football helmet. That's all betta. I mean, it was just like so right fun. So we go find our treasure there, the toy swapping thing is really good. And especially for the age that you're they get so excited, they get so excited over somebody else's toys, I don't even care. So just and then it's fun for them to say like, Hey, let's give these toys somebody else like they get excited about Yeah, like we don't really play

Mary Laird Garrison:

and just flip them back around. And then in six months are all gonna be new again, I know we didn't do that, like you're asking about tips, like I did get like a big like big plastic bin. And I did like go through our playroom and kind of take out some things that they're not playing with much. It's too much. It's just they had too much in there. And so I put that sort of stuff away, I sold some of it because they weren't really using what I found honestly, too is that Lucy my almost two year old, she's not playing with the same toys that Frances that she's older, she's playing with magnets, he wants to play with playing dress up, she doesn't care. So we got rid of a lot of that stuff, which I think is helped. Simplifying is really important. And that's really overwhelmed with like what to do, and I've took a lot of stuff out of the room goes good. And I think that's helped, like put some stuff away so they don't have too much to see. I wanted to touch really quick on your point about like getting time alone. Yeah, I think something that I was I felt personally convicted by is what am I doing with that time? Like when I'm numbing out? Like, are they seeing me sit there with them on my phone? Or are they seeing me sit there? Like staring at my computer? Like what am I doing? And because I think it's hard for me as a parent to say, Okay, you can't watch TV during this event, but I'm gonna go and I'm gonna stare at my phone. And I get it like, I want to numb out to all the time. But I've realized we're not really numbing out. I don't know if have you've ever talked about that book on here. But that how to break up with your phone. But oh,

Melanie Hempe:

yeah, I don't think we've talked about that. But that is a good book

Mary Laird Garrison:

I have read before I met Melanie, actually. And it talks about how we're not really numbing out more often. Because what's happening is if we're reading something on our phone, or we're looking like, we're making decisions we're interacting, we're not numbing out or our brain is actually just like, in overdrive, because we're being forced, like do I click here? Or do I click there? Do I want to go to that link to I wanted to get that do I want that swimsuit or that swimsuit or what back? And we're like, having things presented to us that we don't really need but we think we need to buy and so we're not really naming Oh, yeah. Like we're even if we're reading an article was talking about the difference and reading on a Kindle and reading in a book. Yeah, it's not the same. It's not like stuff splashing it, you can click. There's an ad. Like, it's just not the same. And I didn't ever think about that when I was thinking about reading and like, it actually talks in this book about how when we're reading on screens, that we're actually making it so that we're poor readers when we're reading an actual book. Yeah, skip around.

Melanie Hempe:

Yes, screens are for skimming. Skim.

Mary Laird Garrison:

Yes. So then you skim when you're reading and skimming. And I caught myself doing it. Yeah. Like, I'll be reading an actual book and I'll catch myself skimming, skimming, like skipping an entire paragraph. And I'm like, No, that's not how you read. And I'm thinking about if I was my six and a half year old reading like that, like, oh, yeah, reading like that.

Melanie Hempe:

There's a great book, it's called how to break up with your phone. And for moms out there dads do to read it in the author's, you know, really fun, because she starts off, it's like breaking up with a boyfriend, you know,

Mary Laird Garrison:

she talks about how you like us to go to the bathroom alone, when we take our phone or you get in an elevator, and it honestly just makes you like, attentive, she has like little nuggets of exercises in there. But I think that was probably a good starting point for me on implementing these changes in our home. Because honestly, I think if I honestly if I had talked to you before having all that background and stuff going on in my own heart, I don't know if it would have the same effect. But I've been reading this book and this book basically challenges you after the first part, to go out in public and make a conscious effort to put your phone away and then watch other people. Yeah. Oh, yeah. It's like a parent and a child sitting together. See, put couples at dinner, get an elevator and like I think that was the part that just made me heartbroken was because there's all these like missed opportunities for conversation and looking people in the eye and I think that was where I started to realize like, okay, no, watching you know, Paw Patrol at home is not the same thing as my kids sitting out to dinner with me on phones, but That's where it starts. And it's like, just so easy to get continues down the road. I mean, the book is great. It talks about short and long term memory and how that Yeah, I mean, all this stuff. Yeah, all the time at the brain and development. So

Melanie Hempe:

so we've got a few tips here coming in, we haven't, we didn't really plan a whole list, but we're getting a list together here. So you're going to take the T V off during the day, you know, when I say the TV is never on in our house when the sun is out, and that really helped us through the summers, you know, when my kids were little TV was more on purpose, it was never

Mary Laird Garrison:

just such a great way to say on purpose.

Melanie Hempe:

Yeah, it wasn't just, you know, in background TV. By the way, when you have background TV on, you speak a lot less to your kids. So they hear a lot fewer words, one of your days on these days is right. Right, right. But you don't talk as much to them, right, I need to hear you that language development is really important. The other thing that I want to give a tip about is quiet time. And we started training our kids pretty early after number one, and two, and three, and four. So other three and four kid got a lot more of this, because I learned how to do this. But every afternoon, around whatever the time was, like if it was when they were coming from school, or before they ever even went to school, it would be like around two or something, I guess or whatever it is in your house where you just hit the wall and you just need that break. Yeah, they would go to their room, I would make them go to the room. And it wasn't a punishment. It was like, Oh, we get room time. And they could I let them do anything they want in their room. And their room is not at all the Pottery Barn room, let me tell you, it is it looks like two kids live in that room as it should. And I let them do anything like they would play, they would build forts, they would take everything off their shelves and put all the blankets and do it. I just let them be creative in there. But we gotten a really good habit of that happening. Even when we would go on vacation to the beach, from two to four is room time. Like, you know, quiet time, like everybody's taking a nap or, or mom needs a break. And so they got in that routine. So establishing that routine without a screen. Yeah, that and sometimes they would fall asleep on the floor. And if they would fall asleep in the funniest places, and I have all these funny pictures of just all of a sudden, they're playing Batman, and then they're just they just fall asleep. So funny. So again, really structuring that quiet time because you need a break during the day. And that's okay. But a lot of people think that they have to turn on a show to get a break. And when you're doing that, not only are you setting your kids up for that instant stimulation, and then the instant letdown, right with the brain meltdowns that happen, but you're creating a habit for them in just like these weeds in our garden, you think Oh, just a few little weeds is okay, it's okay. It's okay. But overnight, that weed is going to take over your run. And that's what I just want to encourage you so much right now with what you're doing to keep doing what you're doing. Your kids will get plenty of screen time, they will be fine. They're not going to be you know, not understanding what screens are, they're going to be getting plenty of screen time. But to start these habits now when they're early when they're young to start these habits early. So when they get to be, you know, 10 and 11 and 12 they're just not wanting to reach for my phone to entertain themselves.

Mary Laird Garrison:

All I did was just educate myself on the why it's not just like blindly following the directions of someone else. I think that's the biggest thing is just go and like understand why this why you feel so passionate about this, I think is the biggest thing like look at look at the research look at your RN selves. Look at what we see is a behavior thing. It's not a change you make just just to make the change. Like you have to understand the why I think behind anything that you do really important to do that. And I just I never want to create for moms. I mean, there's just so much like this mall, you know, I think there's this mom shame culture we have. And I was like I'm so I just tread so lightly on that, because I don't want people to think that if they're letting their watch kids tick, watch TV, they're bad. I just think that it's worth looking into and looking at and trying to figure out like, what does what can make sense for us? How can we do this? Like what's a baby step we can take I mean, for us one of the things we did before we stopped during the week was just looking at the shows that they were watching and so there's this one show that they really liked that I was noticing different habits with from that showed that show like it was yeah, there was just you know, it was just a different behavior that came out of it. It was like there was it's a creative show it was like about like there was always an art project that they were doing in the shows like is co creative galaxy. And so the stuff that came from that versus another show that's basically just all about emotions and feelings right which most feelings aren't bad, but like the stimulation they were getting was just different. So just trying to kind of because like you said like look at the content. Look at what they're watching, try to glean eat out some of those things that might necessarily not necessarily be as fruitful as something else. And

Melanie Hempe:

you can of course, course that kind of defeats your whole purpose. But, you know, because you want some time off. But co viewing is really important, right? To do that like,

Mary Laird Garrison:

and this stuff is so sneaky these days, honestly, like, there's just some not great stuff out there. And it looks really pretty because it's pink and purple. I know we get all the ways you hear these characters talk to their parents, like that. I'm

Melanie Hempe:

like, I just don't know. Just yeah, it's definitely those screens are the weeds in our garden? There's no question there. What? What do you think mom's your walk of life right now? What do you think their biggest struggle is with culture and the screen culture right now?

Mary Laird Garrison:

I think just like wanting our kids to fit in. Yeah, like, gosh, I think that's it. And then like, just normalizing stuff. Like, you know, we think about, I mean, the road trip is a perfect example. Like, I was laughing, we drove to the beach. And I was like, I drove to the beach all day long. You know, week after week with my family growing up, and we never had any of this stuff. We played this auto bingo. And yeah, that was part of the trip playing poker. And yeah, yeah. I mean, that was part of the trip. And so it's not as it's, our kids aren't missing out. And I think the thing is, there's a great podcast, I'll send it to you. And yeah, I mean, it's great. It's called raising an alien child and basically talks about how we have to be willing to be countercultural. Yeah. And, yeah, some and that's, I think, a big struggle too. It's just like feeling like swept along and what everybody else is doing and what works for everybody else. And it's uncomfortable, like, I don't want to be considered the, you know, a TV Nazi. You know, like, I'm not I don't want to be misunderstood. I have a huge fear of think of being misunderstood. Think

Melanie Hempe:

you don't want to be judgmental, and know that none of us want to be doing it. I

Mary Laird Garrison:

didn't know what I didn't know. Right? And I didn't see like, right. And it was honestly, like, just happening in my own heart. And I'm like, is this happening to my heart and affecting me like this? Like, what is this gonna do to my kid? Yeah, sure, little, and if it's just if it's this bad, and this hard when I'm this age, and, you know, five years from now, and, you know, we are faced with the decision of Yeah,

Melanie Hempe:

you're a smart investor. I'm like, You're gonna have three girls and let me tell you ScreenStrong is way to go. We tell you, I'm just not even. It is. So not worth it to

Mary Laird Garrison:

win knowing options, gaps, to add funding, we've talked about like, I talked about that, because you were gonna get Yeah, I gotta get food for yourself. For you, but, you know, in my whole thinking on that is, I really want to be able to like, yes, the reality is fans are great. Like, we need to fit that if I'm traveling with the three girls, I need to fit like I get if I break down, or any defects. Oh, yeah, if I go to the pool with them, I need a phone. Yeah, but I just didn't want to be able to like I was going after my husband. It's like, oh, let's look that up. And so we're looking. We're both on our information all the time. Yeah. So I really just wanted to be able to disconnect and for me, I just don't have the self discipline like I'm just confessing here that I'm not I just am not disciplined people are like, Why don't you buy like why do you buy just one piece of chocolate why you should get a whole bag it's so much cheaper. I'm like, because I can oh I kind of feel like that with my phone. I just kind of have to be either all in or all out and

Melanie Hempe:

and what you're saying about Okay, so let me just explain to everybody so obviously Mueller has a smartphone and she's a mom and she does all that but but when you called me about this a few weeks ago you're getting a gap phone because you wanted to forward your number to the gap and and you take the gap fun to the pool. Yeah, with your cat. That was such a great I

Mary Laird Garrison:

wonder babysitters. I remember like we've got some others helpers. And yeah, like you can use it or how soon and yeah, so then like as a mom, you have that if you get this as your house man or you get this as a friend that younger babysitters can use or if you've got a 10 year old that you're struggling with whether or not you get a phone Yeah, just get the captain. Yeah, like they don't need anything else. No, you can take it when you're running errands if you don't need like, I didn't know how to get to your house today. And I don't have GPS on my phone because I need GPS. Right but like if I'm just going in the pool, I don't really need a mess further. I need to get distracted. I don't need to be distracted by that like text messages can wait email. Great. Nothing urgent. I would like to think I'm that important. I'm just not it's just, it's just too much. It's just It's

Melanie Hempe:

just you're not really getting the downtime that you need know when we as parents when we just have this phone velcroed to our bodies all day to and it just breaks my heart when I think young moms are already stressed enough. But I know the stress they're under when they're trying to keep up. They're looking over everybody's Instagram and they're looking at all their cute little baby pictures and all those cute little I'm none of it. It's just so kind of protected. It just doesn't matter. When I was when my twins were in first, second, third grade all those young grades. And y'all heard me talk about this before but I would leave my I phone in the car. Yeah, after carpool when I would get them in the door. And I it was so hard to do that. But I just left it in the car and I shut the door in for like an hour. I just went even if I wasn't playing with them exactly. It was just I was present. I was just more coffee. Yeah, I just the presence of the phone. The kitchen table, you know it's buzzing it's doing is doing all kinds of

Mary Laird Garrison:

beckoning to you also, I turned on my notification before the gap. And I just had turned on my notifications off because I just hated the ding. Yeah, and all that.

Melanie Hempe:

Kids pick up on that, like you said, Yeah, too. So we're knowing how many

Mary Laird Garrison:

times are we getting frustrated with our kids? Because I'm trying to do something on my phone? It's really not. Yeah, and I'm snapping it. Yeah, cuz I'm like trying to do something that's not really.

Melanie Hempe:

So this is a season. And I just really want to encourage you that you're doing the right thing, you're doing a great thing. You're, you're, you're planning your tomatoes the right way. You know,

Mary Laird Garrison:

I just started, I'm only a couple months and figuring it out one day, well may snap by the end of the summer, I need you to come over and have an intervention,

Melanie Hempe:

we'll have some accountability. And you've got to have a small group of friends before Yeah, to do that. But I just want to tell you and all the other young moms out there that this season is so short, and I know you hear this all the time. And I know it doesn't feel short, but it's really short. Yeah, and you can do it. Yeah. And when your kids grow up, you don't want them to have memories of snappy mom snapping all the time, because she's on her phone, and she needs you to be quiet and go watch a TV show. You want them to have memories of playing art at the kitchen table and dress up and all of the shows that they do and all of the stuff they do at this age. And again, I'm not trying to make anybody feel guilty, we all have plenty of that we don't need to, to, you know, dwell on everything we're doing wrong. But I do think it's really, really, really important to get a community. And I think it's really important to logically think ahead about what you want to look back. Yeah. And see like, you almost have to write a tribute statement about your kids childhood in the Attribute statement is what do you want to say about it, like looking back, right, and use that as your guide? It's just a logical kind of thing. It's hard in the moment, but it's just not worth it is not worth what could potentially happen. Yeah, because we don't really, we don't really know. But we know enough. Just like the man in the hardware store, he knew enough about tomatoes where he said, Look, you can do it this other way. And this is what's going to happen, your tomatoes are going to be smaller, the bugs are going to get them you know, all these things are going to happen and, and I just thought wow, I'm gonna listen to him. It made it made such a huge difference in the fruit, right? And it will also make a big difference. If you you don't have to take screens all out of your house, but when you go to this low tech option, and not use it as a babysitter because that's really what that's really the key and you know, teachers use it as babysitters, too. So this is a whole nother problem that we're dealing babysitters. Yes, yeah. With a school.

Mary Laird Garrison:

Well, yeah, when that and I went when I babysitters come,

Melanie Hempe:

oh, and then when you have babysitter. So that's another really good point. There's

Mary Laird Garrison:

so much you could talk about what I mean, I think there's so many things, I think that's a huge struggle isn't you have babysitters, and then you've also got the situation where you've got basically, the whole thing is nobody wants math. You know, you don't want to look back into the math. Like, we hear that word. Like let's take today, do you want to do you want to met marriage? Like do you want to match? Like I didn't, nobody wants that. Like who wants man? I don't. And all these things keep you there. So you have

Melanie Hempe:

to be careful about your babysitters, too. I don't want babysitters coming over that are on their screen the whole time. Right? That's my kids, I

Mary Laird Garrison:

have a poor screen or putting screens on. So it's all good stuff we could talk about I know

Melanie Hempe:

we'll we'll definitely keep you and mine again. And we want to talk about little kids. Again, I just want to remind everybody that they need a lot of sleep, they need a lot of free play a lot of music, reading, talking to their parents, nature, creativity, blogging, all these different executive function things that they need. And so you need to write a plan. I mean, you need to make a plan and kind of stick to it. In when you're having a your down days. You've got to just say no, this is we're going to do it different way. So thank you so much for coming. Yeah. Anything else? Can you offer any encouragement for?

Mary Laird Garrison:

I mean, the makeup plan is important, but like just one day, it's I think it's just one day at a time to you know, I mean, I do think that there's like, you get to the end of the day you're like okay, we did like let's just think about it. Just

Melanie Hempe:

take one day. Yeah, don't worry about have some ammo in your back

Mary Laird Garrison:

pocket. Like you said, Yeah, I think that's great advice on like getting the things the library is a great tool. Yeah, just kind of getting those things done that are like what did I do as a kid? What did I like doing it? Yeah, just remembering

Melanie Hempe:

those things. Yeah. And go to the dollar store. Yeah, yes, and

Mary Laird Garrison:

Although he has great resources, all these will discount. Yeah,

Melanie Hempe:

well, thank you so much for Well, thank you, my friend experience and we're so proud of you, I You're gonna help so many parents just them listening today hearing that you really can't turn that TV off from your, your little.

Mary Laird Garrison:

I mean, if you're out if you're listening and you don't feel like you have the community like reach out like Melanie says all the time, I'm happy to like, reach out, talk to somebody, get some ideas, have somebody that can help you and help encourage you because you can feel really isolating and lonely. And it, it helps to have somebody else that's doing the same Yeah, and

Melanie Hempe:

get our Facebook group or ScreenStrong family's Facebook group and you can get so

Mary Laird Garrison:

and take Melanie's course shameless plug. But if you don't understand the why, if you don't understand the why behind this, you will not want to.

Melanie Hempe:

So this the kids brains and screens, and then the ScreenStrong solution are the two parts to our course. And I appreciate you mentioning that because I think that really helped you. When you understood the Why all of a sudden, you can do a whole lot more than you think you can do. When you have that ammunition behind you stick

Mary Laird Garrison:

to it. Because you know that why you know why you're doing it? Yeah, it's kind of this aimless effort and then

Melanie Hempe:

make the switch and get it get fun and use the code strong. And you'll get a discount on that. Please email us if you have any questions, you can email us at Team te am screenstrong.com If you are just feeling super overwhelmed, because I remember those days so well. And we will definitely help you. We have ambassadors that can reach out to you and talk to you. And if you want to be an ambassador, we're going to be having another another class this summer. And ambassadors are just people that learn our stuff and go in their community and talk about it to their community and do the slide presentations and the different workshops and stuff. So your homework today is to share this podcast with at least five friends. Let's just get the word out because we can't do it without you. This podcast is the perfect way to begin to create that tribe because you can get your friends to listen to this and all of a sudden you're kind of in the same mindset. And then you get the course and use that as your discussion guide to get together. You have to do this on purpose. And we didn't even talk today about having playdates and getting ScreenStrong kids together so they grow up together. And I'm so excited for your girls because they're going to have a lot of ScreenStrong friends and when they get to middle school, this is going to be a piece of cake for you seriously, this is not going to be something that is new. So thanks so much for coming today. Have fun, okay, you I can't wait to have you back. And if you're out there and you have a story to share, please let us know and we'll have you on as well. Remember, we've got your back and we are here to help you. So until next time, stand up for your kids stand out from the crowd. Go plant some tomatoes this summer and stay strong.