Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turning Off the TV (Things to Do that Don't Involve a Screen)

In attempting to reconnect as a family, we are trying to find things besides watch TV and play with our electronic devices.  Our bad habit was even worse in that we were all retreating to our own places in the house to do these things by ourselves.  There's nothing wrong with watching a good show on TV, but for those times when you want to really make a memory, I've compiled a list of ideas.  Here are ten things we've tried just recently.

  1. Read a book.  Silently, or out loud, I'm an advocate for reading.  I'm a teacher; I love to read out loud, and my kids have always liked me to read to them.  My youngest is nearly 16 years old, and we are currently enjoying The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson.  (I do not recommend this for young children, unless you're good at censorship on the fly. ;-) )
  2. Play music.  Listen to recordings, or even better, listen to music played LIVE.  Bridger plays the guitar, and I have loved watching his skills develop from a three chord-repertoire to many more, and learning how to finger and use a capot.  
  3. Enjoy your favorite outdoor activity.  Bridger likes to longboard with his friend. Bike on your local trails. Go for a hike.  Take a walk.  We walk our dog at the park, down the road and on trails.  My husband and I have plans to resume our previous level of hiking that had been set aside after my rheumatologist scared me away from anything that COULD lead to injury.  I've decided to get back to living my life without fear, and just to be extra careful.  
  4. Bake something together.  Last week, I actually made the cookie dough while my boy was at school, and had him help me scoop out the dough and bake the cookies.  And then we ate them.  I will need to do more of number 3 if we keep doing more of number 4.
  5. Have friends over.  I had girlfriends over for lunch.  We had Bridger's friend over for dinner. My husband had friends over to watch football and order pizzas.  It is always fun to entertain company.  There is an added bonus for me:  I tend to keep the house tidier when I know people are coming!
  6. Tackle chores together.  I started mowing the lawn while my son took a shovel to the end of our driveway to make a smoother transition from the newly laid road base to our gravel driveway. When he finished that, he gallantly took over the mowing for me.
  7. TALK.  This week, we've had some enlightening discussions on the way to and from school (nearly an hour a day).  We've talked about prejudice, labeling, college, music, scholarships, advanced math, teachers, and favorite memories.  My favorite conversation, which involved some internet research, was about "Was Jesus Black?"(Link to earlier post).  Bridger is always thinking, which requires that I keep thinking, too.
  8. Let your child teach YOU something.  A couple of weeks ago, Mark took Bridger to the
    shooting range, and told him, "You're the expert here. I'll follow your lead." Bridger took it very seriously, and explained basic courtesy and safety.  He always asked if we were ready before he took aim, and he was very careful in handling the variety of weapons.  I took my camera because I'm not one to shoot guns, but I LOVE shooting pictures!  Everyone had fun at their own level.
  9. Play games.  Our favorite is Scrabble.  Bridger and I had never kept score until this last time.  He skunked me by 60 points, and then had the GALL to point out a mistake I made two plays before the game was over that cost me 57 points.  No more Mr. Nice Guy.  I'm going to have to hone my Scrabble skills if I hope to ever maintain my status as a word geek.
  10. Invent something, fix something, improve something.  After school, Bridger retreated to his room.  He came out periodically looking for duct tape and other supplies.  "Should I be worried?" I asked.  "No, not yet," was his response.  He was making a prototype for a trebuchet, which is a catapult.  He has big plans for a life-size contraption soon.  I have a feeling if he can get the model to work, no pumpkin will be safe after Halloween.
My husband is a PRO when it comes to fixing things that don't work so well.  He and Bridger took our bed apart and tightened all of the screws.  (Certainly can't have a squeaky bed. Don't want any raised eyebrows when company is over.)  Those two are constantly working on little projects to repair things around here.  Duct tape and WD40 are about all I can manage.  I'm grateful for their skills.  My thing is recipes and writing.  I'm always tweaking recipes to make them healthier, and I'm always editing my writing to try to improve it.
What activities would you suggest?  With the upcoming holidays, I'm thinking we need to expand our game collection.  I would love to hear from you about things you do to encourage family time, and downplay time in front of TVs or computers.

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