It’s coming soon, S-P-R-I-N-G — -B-R-E-A-K!!! Are you ready for it? I know I am. The kids are off school and we can spend some quality time as a family, creating memories that will last forever…
OK-OK, I will take off my pink glasses. I am looking forward to spending time with my kids, while my kids are looking forward to spending time on their screens.
I can fight it or I can create a balanced environment where we do both. They can spend some time on their screens, and we can spend some time together as a family creating those meaningful memories (germs free memories).
You may question why I bother. It’s easier to just let them distress in front of their computers, the TV, or their phones, it is known to be the perfect babysitter, so why not? Honestly, it is easier to let them do that. The screen will be the babysitter and we won’t have to plan or organize anything. Planning a family vacation can sometimes be more stressful than a day of work, and we all know stress is not good for us.
My answer to us all is this — screen will not get them to try new things, visit with family, relax, reset and give their mind permission to connect with nature, real life, and real people instead of fixating on the virtual world of their game. It’s our job to guide them as those games are not a “relaxing” activity for the brain; rather it jump starts production of dopamine and activates the fight-or-flight center causing anxiety, stress ,and irritability — again, not characteristics I know defines relaxation.
Furthermore, children cannot bond with their parents or their siblings while being glued to a video game or their phone (not even if it’s a video game everyone’s playing together). Screen-free family activities allow mutual creativity, eye contact, and communication like observing and interpreting facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone.
My son always tells me “mom, I need to relax, I’m going to play on my computer for a little bit with my friends”, if you get that from your kids too know that this is not going to work. And now you know why.
Balance is the key here. During this Spring break let’s try to spend half of the time creating memories and the other half on a screen.
It is known that people who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. It is also a tricky time to get on a plane with the Corona Virus outbreak.
That’s why I am here, to share with you some ideas on daily activities that can be fun for all ages (also for the grumpy teenagers). Just remember to give them the options to choose from. Once they are part of the process they are more likely to cooperate, and for you all to have a memorable day as a family.
Cooking madness — Cookies, waffles, pizza, breakfast, lunch, dinner… Let them plan it, go(with you) to get groceries, and together (or if they are older, alone) prepare the meal. I promise the kitchen will end up looking like a huge mess, but the memories will be worth it. Plus, as my late grandma used to say “cleaning is part of the fun!”
Outdoorsy adventure — Pack some snacks and go out to an outdoor adventure. It can be the beach, a nature center close by, or your backyard. You can be more adventurous and take the bike or just spend a few hours hiking while munching on yummy homemade snacks we made during cooking madness time.
Train travel — Getting on a train always gets me to feel adventurous. Take the train to visit the city. Pick a location with the kids and go explore it. People travel a long way to see what you have by your home. It’s time to take advantage of that.
Photographer for a day — Have them take the camera and take pictures — this can be done at home or outside. It can be part of your cooking madness day, the day trip to the city, or photograph the items they collect in their rooms… Honestly, anything they can come up with can be photographed. When they are done, you can have them print it out and prepare a gallery for you and the rest of the family to enjoy.
Flip the room — Spring break is the perfect time to redecorate their room. My daughter always wanted to have her room painted purple. This process can take a few days, and at the end there is something to feel proud of. Starting with a visit to the paint store to pick up some paint samples, trying them on the wall, preparing the space, and of course painting. It is easier then it sound and I promise you, it’s fun! If you don’t feel so adventurous, a simple re-organization of the room works too (a great excuse for that spring clean).
Open a window to an imaginary world — By that I mean reading a book. Books for me is an opportunity to step into a different world. Thankfully, I managed to get my kids hooked on them too. Decide with them on a day you visit the local library or a bookstore, pick the books and transform to a new world. If the kids are close in age, you can all pick up the same book and create yourself a little book club.
A journalist for a day — Encourage them to pick a family member to interview. Have them give them a Skype call and interview them. Our family members are fascinating, we just need to reach out and ask questions. I remember as a kid I needed to interview my grandparents for being immigrants. My essay was due after the break so I had that time to visit and spend quality time with them. The stories I’ve heard are better than any novel I will ever read. Wishing that experience to anyone I know, especially my kids.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. You know what your kids like and dislike. Guide them to do something else outside of their screens, they may surprise you.
Wishing you and your family a balanced Spring break. Can’t wait to hear what you did!