In today’s society, it’s so easy to just plug into a device like your phone or computer and unplug from family time. But making those meaningful family moments is easy if you just unplug for a minute.
Heather Johnson is a family researcher who blogs at Family Volley and she shares her suggestions for making meaningful family moments.
It used to be that the number one thing families did together was eat meals. It was a place to talk, teach and connect. Now the number one thing families do together is watch tv. Watching tv together doesn’t let us connect, teach, or talk with one another. In fact, when our children try to talk to us when we are watching tv or on our phones or the computer, we most likely shoosh them and ask them to be quiet and wait. Not conducive to talking or connecting.
Technology represents a false front. We think we are together, but really all we are doing is staring at the same box, or sitting in the same room. We are not communicating, cooperating or working together.
Technology inside our home has become a huge drain on the lives of American Families.
We have to fight against it… How?
Tame Technology- We do this by turning it off, putting it away and moderating its usage.
* Create “No Talk Zones” (Dinner, family night, family activities, etc). DON’T EAT DINNER WITH THE TV ON.
* Set guidelines – at our house, no tv for the kids on weekdays. That means Monday am through Friday am the tv doesn’t get turned on. They can only watch tv on the weekends. Phones turned in at the end of the day, not taken to bedrooms.
*Kids can earn tech time. Then they cash in the tech points to watch tv, play on their phones, or play video games.
*Technology collection: At the beginning of dinner or other family activities, pass around a basket and collect everyones phones, ipods, etc…
*Technology Jenga: Great for dinner time, great when you go out to dinner, or out to do things as a family. LOVE THIS ONE. We stack all our tech in the middle of the table. Doesn’t matter if they ring or buzz. You can’t touch. First one to grab their device loses. There needs to be a consequence. They might have to do an extra chore, clean something, lose the tech for a certain amount of time.
BUT.. it is more than just taming the technology. Understand, technology is flashy and bright and fun and interesting. It is calling our children’s names. We have to be exciting and bright and fun too. We can’t just take the tech away and not provide something else for our families and children.
We have to make the everyday experiences fun. So our families would rather be together, than be on their phones. We have to make memories together. We do this through rituals. Fill our family life with rituals. Our kids are growing up in a totally different time than us.
After you put the groceries away, play the paper bag game. You put a brown paper bag on the ground. Balancing on one foot, you have to bend over and pick it up with your mouth. You tear off pieces to make the bag shorter and shorter and keep trying to pick it up.
When my dad brought groceries home he would have each of us man a different location in the kitchen (fridge, pantry, and freezer). He would take things out of the bags and throw them to us in our respected location. It was so much fun. We dropped everything we were doing when the groceries came in the door. When you were asked to man the fridge, and catch the eggs, you knew you had “arrived”
At dinner. Communicate.
Talk about your day. Tell one good thing and one bad thing that happened that day.
Designate a thankful chair, or thankful hat. Whoever sits in the chair that night has to say 5 things they are thankful for. Or put the hat on someone’s head and they have to share what they are grateful for.
Hopes and dreams. Each person tells one hope they have and one dream they have.
In the car. Turn off the movie and put away the phones.
Have your kids give you directions as you drive.
When you are working together.
We always start work projects by playing the mystery item game. I choose a few mystery items and who ever happens to put them away, gets to choose what the family gets for dinner, or what the family will do as a fun activity on Saturday, etc.
And there are plenty of other games that can get your family talking and making memories:
Playdough pictionary – http://www.familyvolley.com/2011/09/family-fun-friday-playdough-pictionary.html
Licorice Race – http://www.familyvolley.com/2010/08/licorice-race.html
Marshmallow Shooter – http://www.familyvolley.com/2010/10/family-fun-friday-marshmallow-shooters.html
Heather has more family games on her blog, along with insights and information on raising a happy family. You can find it at familyvolley.com