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Evan Huber enjoys an afternoon at the Riverhead Free Library. (Credit: laura Huber)
Evan Huber puts on a puppet show at the Riverhead Free Library. (Credit: laura Huber)

Like most people, I spend way too much time on my phone. I’m a pretty regular Facebooker, Tweeter and Instagrammer, and I also spend a lot of time reading articles, looking things up and watching weather reports. (Will spring ever get here?) 

My boys, Brian and Evan, are also no strangers to technology. They play games on iPads and also on our Xbox 360 and PS4. Sometimes getting them to put down their devices is a challenge. But it has also been a challenge for me. There have been multiple times where they’ve told me to put down my phone or accused me of not listening to them. And they’re right. Ignoring two people that are right in front of me to spend time looking at cat videos and photos of other peoples’ kids is ridiculous. So I decided to limit my time online when I’m with them, not just on social media but for texts and calls as well.

With all of the snow and cold weather over the past few months, it’s tough when you can’t go outside and play. But I wanted to do something to get us out of the house and away from the electronics, so we went to Riverhead Free Library for an electronic-free afternoon.

Brian and Evan didn’t want to go at first. They love the library, but getting them out and away from Minecraft and Mario Kart was a challenge. When they got there, they had no idea how they were going to be able to stay there for two hours. My first suggestion was that they pick out books, since they have reading assignments every day for school. Brian loves Big Nate books, so he grabbed several. Evan and I discovered “Pinkalicious,” which turned out to be a surprising lesson in the importance of moderation. We all read for a while, and then the kids wanted to play. My only stipulation was that they couldn’t play on the computers.

For the first time in a few years, I got down on the floor and played wooden trains with the boys. We built an entire city. Evan put on an excellent puppet show and had other kids in the room clapping. They met other boys there and together they made block swords, hid in caves and kidnapped little brothers. Their mom told me that they visit libraries all over Long Island, and like my guys, they weren’t allowed to use electronics at the library.

The entire time we were there, I kept my phone in my purse. The boys and I had a so much fun that we didn’t want to leave. And we had a family milestone: Evan got his first library card.

Now, when Brian and Evan read, do homework, or even play video games, I put my phone away and spend my time with them. As every parent will tell you, you never get that time back.

Local libraries you can visit:

Riverhead Free Library, 330 Court St.,

Mattituck-Laurel Library, 13900 Main Road, Mattituck.

Cutchogue-New Suffolk Library, 27550 Main Road, Cutchogue.

Southold Free Library, 53750 Main Road

Floyd Memorial Library, 539 First St., Greenport.

Laura Huber