Screen Ban

We have a Screen Ban at our house from 11am-5pm. This is a new thing for us, just started the day after school got out for the summer. Music is allowed during this time but no other internet, no TV (exception granted for the Olympics), no video games, no movies.

It’s been a good move, though the kids might beg to differ. Of course it isn’t perfect- they complain, sneak whenever our backs are turned, watch TV at friends’ houses. But other things have happened too. Sometimes they’ll hang out on my bed and read while I’m folding laundry. The dogs get an extra walk. We go to the pool. They play board games. They help me in the kitchen. They make stuff up.

#5 asked if he could make a fort recently during the Screen Ban hours. An indoor fort.

I was a big fan of forts when I was a kid, both indoor and outdoor. Indoor forts we made by stringing sheets and sleeping bags over artfully arranged furniture. My sister’s brilliant contribution was the addition of a box fan, placed just so in order to extend a sheet into a “room”. Outdoor forts we made with whatever wood we could find in the patch of woods behind our house: scrap lumber, branches, sticks, logs. Outdoor forts rocked because you could add to them over the days; you didn’t have to dismantle them to give your mom the sheets and chairs back.

#5 mostly makes indoor forts because we don’t have a yard or woods per se, unless you count the property that doesn’t belong to us and contains all the trees that keep landing on our house. He did make an outdoor fort once but I literally couldn’t get to it when he wanted to show it to me, it was in such a steep and treacherous part of the “yard”.

He wanted to make a fort this day upstairs, and offered to take it down before dinner because it uses all of the dining room chairs. He didn’t want to make it downstairs in the music room because #2 was down there and, I quote, “She’s really annoying when you’re trying to build a fort.”

If you asked her, she would probably say the same thing about him.

Once he made the fort, he started working on me to let him sleep in it. He even offered to take it down so everyone could eat around the table and then rebuild it. I’m just so thrilled any time something non-electronic happens that doesn’t involve arguing or tears that I relented. It was pretty cool- it came out round inside.

This picture was taken the morning after, before 11am. Hence the TV.

My permission secured, he went to work on getting #4 to sleep in there with him. Because it’s a little scary and lonely to sleep in there by yourself.

When I got home from work, it was odd how dark and quiet the house was. The dogs were crated, #4 and #5 were asleep in the fort and the sitter was on the couch using her laptop. We said goodbye in whispers but the dogs woke up anyway.

The dogs were so totally discombobulated by the fort. They whined in the crate because there were nearby laps they weren’t in. I let them out to take them outside but they beelined for the fort instead. Except Jack couldn’t figure out how to get in it, so I helped him.

Go in here, Jack.

Then came a series of nails on the floor and much dog activity. In and out and all around the fort. I took them both outside briefly but afterwards neither one would calm down at the same time, all the while crawling in and out of the fort and on #4 and #5’s heads.

I went to forcibly remove them, but #4 protested sleepily and said that Casey was under the covers, which she was. Somehow Jack also ended up naked, which makes him harder to grab because he’s quite wiggly and there’s nothing to hold on to when he’s naked. Well, nothing good anyway.

At this point, #5 sat up halfway and said, “Why is it so hard to sleep?”

I told them if the dogs got too annoying to put them back in the crate and went back in our room to read.

More whines. More nails on the floor. I heard the crate door open and shut, twice. Then more whines. Lots and lots more whines. The crate door opened again, and then there was the unmistakable sound of Puggle Demolition Derby.

One of these days I’m going to record that. It defies description. My friend Jeremy, who is owned by two pugs, refers to it as “weaseling”.

#4 and I opened my bedroom door at the same time.

Me: Are they being annoying?

Her eyes were wide and she nodded vigorously: Yes!!!

So I let them in and squished their little heads together in an embrace, reminded them I was the big dog and told them to calm the hell down.

Them: wiggle wiggle


Them: wiggle wag

Me: Big dog! That’s me.

Them: whine

Me: Shut it.

Them: lick

Me: awwww.

Everyone slept after that. #4, in fact, managed to sleep until ten a.m. which earned her this picture that she doesn’t know I took.

I noticed she also added a fan. Aunt Beth will be proud.


Did you ever build forts as a kid? Is anyone else doing screen bans this summer? I told my chiropractor about it and he thought it was brilliant; then he told his kids and now they’re pooling their money to take a hit out on me.



18 thoughts on “Screen Ban

  1. I send my son to overnight camp every summer. So I guess there’s an implied screen ban. But he doesn’t miss it for one minute. But when he comes home, it will be the first thing he wants to do. Like an addict, he will want to have his junk. That said, maybe we’ll have a screen ban during the day, so he’ll continue to enjoy his summer -outdoors!

    Sorry about the whole hit on you thing. At least you’ll be in proper alignment when the kids come for you.

  2. Fortssss. Yesssss. This post is so great on so many levels, especially dog- and fort-loving ones. (And kudos to you on the ban!)

    I will never forget introducing two of my babysitting charges to the magic of the ‘sheet fort’ about 10 years ago. I was deeply saddened to learn they’d never experienced such joy. I’m also scarred for life because of the time my childhood neighbor’s dad knocked down my whole outdoor fort He claimed it was ‘in the way’ of where he needed to park his lawn mower. LIES! Lies born of fort-envy!!!

    1. I don’t know if I would ever recover from someone knocking down a whole outdoor fort. I do remember one that our parents made us move though. We had built it at the top of this embankment, and then we used the embankment as a slide. It was pretty fun. but it ended in a road. Not a busy road, mind you, but there were some bottles tossed in the ditch and someone slid down in the wrong place and cut their foot all up and had to get stitches. It was the only time our parents ever got involved in the outdoor forts.

    1. We do have to reserve that right to make exceptions. Or change our minds. The next time I get a complaint though, I’m gonna tell them about your screen time limit. They’ll freak!

  3. Oh yeah, my brothers and I would build forts all the time. This was back in the day when we had the one TV and it was black and white and sat on the kitchen counter. We really had no choice but to use our imaginations. (those were the days!) My older brother always had the best fort, he’d have his flashlight, a nightstand, a lamp, a radio–he’d have it partioned off into separate rooms. Mine was always this pathetic little tend area where I’d curl up with my dog and read Little House books.

    My kids LOVE building forts too and we do it all the time, all year round. They use all the kitchen chairs and make this one gigantic fort that takes up the whole living room. It love it because not only are they out of my hair, but I don’t have to worry about tidying the house up for a few days.

  4. I never built a fort! 😦
    Not that kinda childhood, I guess.
    My children will build forts whether they like it or not. They will NOT be victims of embarrassment like I am.

  5. This post’s title caught me because I ended up having to do a personal “screen ban” nightly to ensure I’m sleeping at night, not checking in to social media. It never occurred to me to try that during the day, although Ba.D. and I once set our phones out of reach and ignored them for (*gasp*) an entire dinner. I’m thinking we should try this . . . and, yes, build forts, because forts were a staple of childhood. Maybe I could get Li’l D into one this afternoon!

  6. Forts?! We kids built a tree house with five levels and a block and tackle powered elevator. I guess having contractors and architects as parents helped a little; but there was only one monochrome tv w/rabit ears.

  7. Love the concept of a screen ban — SO smart!! I used to outlaw TV on all school nights and since I started it in 1st grade, it just became part of the Mother Torture Rules .. and then when it got to be high school and the schoolwork really mounted up, we never had to fight about it. One less conflict!! As for indoor forts, omg — i loved them and our kids used to cover the entire bedroom in sheets, blankets and quilts. It was SO cool and kids just love being hidden under things, right?? Love this post!!

Comment. It gives me a reason not to clean my house.

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