Unplugged for Family Harmony


previously printed in The Kansas City Star on March 14, 2014
Special to The Star

Do you ever feel as if your children’s brains are being destroyed by electronics?

Televisions, computers, tablets, video games, cell phones, handheld games — the list goes on and on. The electromagnetic currents traveling throughout our homes are bombarding our kiddos’ delicate gray matter, and I often wonder if it’s all frying their brains.

So I decided to develop my own state-of-the-art research study, using a broad sampling of my 2.3 children and the recommended time period of the past weekend. Since I allowed them to be more plugged in, I noticed a decrease in their mental focus, attention to detail and overall ability to listen to me when asking them to clean their room.

The results of my in-depth research were as I had predicted: my children’s brains were melting, and rapidly.

However, electronics weren’t responsible for sucking the life out of my kids. I was the one to be blamed. My husband and I purchased the toys and allowed our girls to spend time “broadening their education.” That is code for extra television time in order to make ourselves feel like successful parents. Oh, the shame!

Actual studies, by scientists who have letters behind their names and fancy nameplates on their office doors, say there should be a maximum of two hours of electronics time per day. But would they still agree with their findings if they had been cooped up with their children for months at end due to the snow-proaching doom of 2014?

And what are East Coast parents doing with the weeks of snow days they’ve accumulated? How many times can you make homemade play dough and snow ice cream with toddlers before you park your kid in front of that whiny “Caillou” show and stare at the Pinterest screen, unshowered, in your jammies, eating peanut butter out of the jar in a panicked trance?

Back when I was a youngster, I don’t remember having snow days. I lived in a college town, so if the campus closed, then the school district closed. However, I’m fairly certain they rarely closed for snow and never closed for low temperatures.

So when my children are banned from any device that shouldn’t be dropped into the bathtub and they claim they’re bored, I travel back in my mind to when there were a handful of channels on the tube, no computers and phones with cords.

What on earth could we have possibly done with all of our spare time?

We played. And, heaven forbid, we used our imaginations!

Now after I pry the iPad from my children’s death grip and the pouting ceases, we end up having fun. Then lo and behold, something amazing happens: we interact and bond.

I know, it’s very old school.

Sometimes our family plays charades, puts on shows or concerts, builds forts or goes camping. Books leap off the shelves, board games and puzzles from my past appear, and we quickly learn who has the competitive edge and who doesn’t give a whip.

During this playtime, it feels as if our girls will stay forever young and will always want to spend time with their fun ol’ parents. But then I wake up from my daydream. Even the best of kids will choose friends over their parents. It’s a rite of passage necessary for development. If during their teens they can’t cut the cord effectively, I’m going to have to go to college with them — and honestly, twice was already one time too many for me.

So for now, I’m going to unplug my world a bit more often to set a better example, and take advantage of our short time together in the same house.

And if I’m lucky, I just might get to make some homemade play dough or snow ice cream with them one more time this winter.

Speaking of happy families, there is a hilarious book about husbands and wives and I bet you a million to one you will relate with at least half of them. The reviews are coming out and they are great! You can get a copy of “I Just Want to Be Alone” HERE.

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6 thoughts on “Unplugged for Family Harmony

  1. I understand the Day After look of the rooms. Luckily, my girls share a room for now – so it’s kind of like sleeping quarters and the playroom is the disaster area. Whey they divide and conquer I know it will be disgusting.

  2. I completely agree with the “old school” mentality. The one draw-back is that my daughter’s room looks like a hurricane-damaged doll shop, and my son’s room looks like a blown-up Lego factory. Maybe they can earn some screen time by cleaning their rooms? 😉

  3. That’s hard to put your foot down Kathy. More power to you! I have a friend who has all the charging devices in her bedroom for the entire house. All the kids have to turn in their electronics to her at night at her specified time.

  4. Yes!!! Unplugging is one gift I do my best to give my kids. We don’t allow it at the table or when we leave the house. I am a huge believer in the power of shared misery for siblings. My sisters and I really bonded over 6 hour car trips packed in a volvo, literally on top of each other with only a few very lame 8 track tapes to entertain us! Lol! Bravo!!

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