There is one subject we argue about more than any other in our house:
Now C is at secondary school, he has his own phone. We reasoned that he needs it to keep in touch with us when he’s out with friends. We didn’t reckon on him never taking his phone out of the house, and only using it for entertainment.
The phone is one thing. The Xbox takes tech addiction to a whole new level. The boys are allowed to share two hours on the ‘evil box of shooting people for no reason’ on Saturdays and Sundays, with occasional extra time late afternoon if we’ve had a physically active day.
Who needs rules?
But when you’re an eleven year old, rules are made to be broken, right?
So several days a week I return home to find C on the Xbox with a friend he’s brought home from school. Not wanting to be a churlish and embarrassing mum, I’ll let them play – reasoning with myself that at least he’s being sociable.
Of course allowing him to break the rules on these occasions, compromises my authority when I really want him to stop.
The perils of allowing kids too much screen time are well documented. But could someone please tell me what am I supposed to do during the school holidays, when I’m meant to be keeping more than a cursory eye on my day job, and the kids don’t want to do anything else?
“I’m bored, what can I do?”
These brothers refuse to visit the multitude of museums or exhibitions London has to offer; think walking without a destination is pointless; and have seen all the films ever made for under 12s (and quite a few for the overs).
We read together every night and always have, but if I suggest they read a book to relieve their boredom, the reaction is akin to offering them an afternoon of waterboarding.
They love being active outdoors with friends, when I can arrange it, but heaven forbid I should suggest the two brothers just play with each other!
I have clearly failed as a mother.
A break from technology
Fortunately, I was presented with a generous offer of an overnight stay, meals included, at a country house hotel in Worcestershire. This seemed like the perfect time for a total digital detox (but not for too long obvs). What’s more, the dog was also invited.
The three hour car journey was device-free and illuminating. We covered many subjects, from inventions to investments; and played loads of word games. No one missed their iPads, and Fortnite wasn’t even mentioned (if you don’t know what that is, you’re lucky).
Colwall Park Hotel
Built in 1904, Colwall Park Hotel is a small hotel in the rural village of Colwall in the Malvern Hills. We had a family suite at the top of the house – with a separate room for the kids.
First stop was a fabulously filling, traditional cream tea in the bar. The dog watched on salivating, as we helped ourselves to sandwiches without crusts, scones with clotted cream and jam, a selection of cakes and lashings of English breakfast tea.
For the uninitiated in English cream teas, crusts are a big no no, scone rhymes with gone, not cone, and the milk goes in last.
This was excellent fuel for the walk ahead. The kids were reluctant to leave the warmth and comfort of the hotel, but with a bit of goading by the hotel staff, they soon got with the programme.
Just behind the hotel and over the railway bridge, is the start of a cross-country walk. The dog couldn’t believe her luck: mud, glorious mud everywhere.
The boys climbed trees, ran through fields and scrambled up hills. Mr Maven took several undignified tumbles, much to the kids’ delight. We returned to the hotel absolutely covered in shit.
A short rest before the next meal
This would usually be the perfect time to bring out the screens. But we’d left them at home. So instead we played Uno, hangman and watched a bit of the winter olympics all snuggled up together, making it technically not a completely digitally-free day. So sue me.
Dinner, back in the bar so we could dine with the dog, was a hearty affair. I had scallops with cauliflower puree and samphire, followed by an incredibly tender steak with roasted vegetables. It was perfectly cooked and delicious.
And so to bed
It seemed like only a few hours before we were back in the bar for breakfast. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed so many calories in 18 hours.
We’d never taken the dog to a hotel before. She was treated like royalty at Colwall Park. Every member of staff we spoke to was a dog owner and made a big fuss of Coco. Having her there definitely added to the experience.
You may think three hours each way is a long way to travel for just one night’s stay. But the change of scene was just what we needed. Without our devices, we had less cause to argue and had no choice but to find alternatives forms of entertainment.
As soon as we got back home, I had to disappear into my office to catch up on two days of missed work, Mr Maven had to answer his emails and the kids raced to the Xbox.
C’est la vie.
Tell me I’m not alone with this technology dilemma? How do you deal with it? Please leave me a comment below.
Much love, Vx
[Disclaimer: With huge thanks to Colwall Park Hotel for inviting us to sample their accommodation and food in return for this review.]