We will soon be traveling in the car for about 12 hours with two of our four kids. I actually am looking forward to that 12 hour drive! We have driven with our kids for the majority of our vacations. When the kids were young, we took the two day drive to the beach in Florida every year. There was some preparation for the trip besides the normal packing of clothing and necessities, a little creative thinking for kid entertainment. We did not have a DVD player, there was no i-phone, no computer, and no ear phones. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Actually, there were plenty of moments of whining and asking “are we there?”, but there were more moments of singing, talking, game playing, license plate hunting, cow counting and more. I had my husband and four kids trapped in a car for two days….undivided attention…wonderful.
We still do not have a DVD player for travel, and I am going to try my darndest to keep the earphones off my son for an extended period of time during our drive. I am ready to have some “unplugged time” with my family. I am ready for some time with the “pause” button activated. We all are so used to being totally technology connected now, we don’t even realize that we are stressed from the constant multitasking connection. Even when taking a “back to nature” walk at the park with kids, parents have their phone strapped to their hip “just in case” someone would need them, NOW, or “just in case” their little one gets bored with that walk and NEEDS a quick fix of entertainment from the latest app. Our kids are learning that a family can be “together” in the same room, but not really there. Everyone is engaged in their own technological device.
Studies have shown us that young children and too much technology is not a good mix. Screen time decreases the amount of free play your child has, and this decreases their discovery learning through creative play that is an absolute necessity for children.
So, this trip we are going to be unplugged. I am sure that in the beginning we will have a bit of a struggle getting the conversation started. There may be a bit of discontent as I start the license plate game, (although I was given a Melissa and Doug license game that you can flip the license plate on each state, might be an enticement!), but I am determined to reconnect with my kids and husband without the technology devices being in the way. I am looking forward to walks on the beach without the flashing light of a phone, watching my son and husband quietly fish in the surf, reading a mindless book, and conversations that have eye contact. I am hoping that all of us have moments of boredom. Boredom is great for the soul….
So, unplug for a bit this weekend. Check that phone at the door, turn off the computer and TV, get out a board game, a puzzle, take a walk, try a craft, eat dinner without the TV, experience the quiet of being unplugged. Learn to love the silence and teach your child that a little “boredom” stimulates creativity, relaxes the mind, and reconnects the family.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.