One of my fears of raising children in the society we live in is raising individuals who are constantly waiting to be entertained and waiting for something to do rather than creating it themselves. It is said that you shouldn’t complain about a problem unless you are willing to be a part of the solution. To create a solution to what I foresee as a problem, here are some things we incorporate in our home and lives:
- Some days, I intentionally do not carry my phone/ipad/any form of entertainment when I leave the house. Apparently they are deemed “necessary” to keeping a child quiet but I have found lots of other things to harbor their interest. Instead of finding a game to play on the app store, they create one and their common go to that provided me with entertainment when I was young was hiding a piece of paper or a small object in my hand, shuffling it behind my back and then having the other player guess which hand it is in.
- There are days when we wake up and over breakfast, announce that it’s a no screen day. It’s amazing to see the things kids come up with. Yesterday was one of those and they transformed the upper floor of our home into a neighborhood, complete with paper tape roads on the floor and house numbers on bedroom doors. This community they built also had a park, library,cafe and restaurant. This would otherwise not have happened if a form of entertainment was available as it tends to drown out our creative thought process .
- Days without a screen also allows for avid reading time, allowing children to become absorbed into stories. There is nothing better for the imagination and writing skills than to read, read and read a little more. Some days they insist on pitching a tent in the living room of our home and reading inside.
- They explore their inner artistic abilities. On these days the floors are a giant mess of paper, crayons, glue, scissors, paint, glitters, stickers and every other craft item we have in our house and they spend hours laboring over their art work, exploring their creativity, and then proudly displaying their work.
- We talk! As a society we have lost our ability to be creative even with our words and have forgotten how to hold an engaging conversation with people. At the park, restaurants, waiting rooms, living rooms and even our bedrooms, people are secluding themselves and hiding behind screens. To change this we read aloud, say and discuss poetry, talk about stories of the past, etc.
- Outside play. Affording children the chance to play outside gives them a chance to be mindful of their environment, connect with nature and cultivate creative ideas. The fun that can be had climbing fences, playing catch, wading in puddles, etc is priceless.
- Using existing toys to build others or for a purpose other than its original. On this no screen day, our kids decided that they would take everything off the train table and rebuild their own creation on the floor. They built and rebuilt it on the floor for a few days before it was put back in its respective spot. This is actually referred to as divergent thinking and refers to the 2 step thought process of looking at something as it is and then imagining the possibilities of what it could be. If you examine everyday life, it would come as no surprise that it is a necessary life skill.
To reiterate the importance of less screen time and more free play time, I leave you with the fact that the United Nations has declared free play a basic human right, thereby alluding to its importance.