Now the children are back at school and in some parts of the world we are feeling touches of Autumn creeping towards winter, it’s not always possible to play outside and all too easy to rely on screen entertainment. That may be TV, Netflix or social media channels and while there are certain benefits to be discovered in those virtual places, it can become addictive and unfortunately can be very unsociable.
When you walk into your sitting room is everyone glued to their phones or slumped in front of the TV?
And when you ask a question do you get any coherent answers? If you do, you’re on a roll because all too often this doesn’t happen when the whole family is locked into their own virtual world.
And trying to make rules about screen time or banning phones between 6 and 7 o’clock can cause resentment, arguments and moody kids… oh dear.
So, is there a way out of the pattern? Yes, there’s always a way but it will need a little encouragement and perhaps some crazy parental behaviour, but then again we are all a little crazy and kids deserve to enjoy their craziness as well.
The secret is play!
Yep, simple ay? and if you think you’re too old, consider this wonderful quote – one of my personal favourites – from George Bernard Shaw.
“You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing”
Right or right?!
So get in the play zone and make up some silly games to play with your kids. A few tips though:
1. Don’t ask, show them. For example put a waste paper bin in the middle of the room then throw a soft ball or a screwed up piece of paper from somewhere in the room, even it’s from your armchair. Get up, retrieve the ball, then move to somewhere else in the room. The fact that you are behaving out of sync will invariably get noticed and probably one of the little darlings will want to do a better job of getting that ball in the ‘basket’. Before you know it, you have a full on game going on.
2. Whisper something exciting or fun to one of them and tell them to pass it on very quietly. It could be about an upcoming family party or holiday or something silly like “I’ve just written to Santa Claus”
3. Invest in a few very inexpensive props like a pack of ‘Beat your neighbour’ playing cards, a set of ‘jacks’ or some yahtzee dice. Leave them in an obvious place in the room. When one of the family ask about them say “I thought I’d buy myself some toys” and take it from there. If no-one notices (aaargh!) then simply start playing. If you have a partner willing to join in your quest, start playing together and make a show of how much fun you’re having.
The benefits of a few minutes of getting the message out there will be huge.
– Quality fun family time – loving and being with each other in the real world
– Conversation – finding out what each other feels and thinks about
– Laughter – always a good thing
And the extra bonus is that those screens may be voluntarily turned off for a while! When my children were young, we traveled and then lived off the land for many years with very little money, and it was before the age of everyone having mobile phones – So we made our own entertainment and encouraged each other to be creative and enjoyed our time together.
Give it a try. You really really really won’t regret it 🙂
P.S. If you want a few ideas, I’ve put together a fun ebook you can download right now and get started tonight. There are 30 indoor family game ideas – that you could still play outside, weather permitting…. Choose from your favourite supplier..
Indoor Family Games