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A recent update to my smartphone included a new app that tracks how much time I devote to screen time. It was shocking to see how many hours per day I use my device, how many times per day I pick it up, and which apps I spend the most time on. Talk about a reality check.
We live in a digital world, there is no denying that. And in fact, one benefit to having my smartphone is that it actually allows me more time with my family since I can accomplish work tasks from home instead of having to go to the office.
However, quality family time that doesn’t involve a device is hard to come by. Whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, or a television, someone is always attached to a form of technology.
But there’s a better way - several, in fact - to stay connected with loved ones that doesn’t involve any technology; ways to build cherished memories that are built around family time instead of screen time. I like to call these “Analog Moments;” moments when we are all present together as a family, truly enjoying quality time together.
In our modern world, these moments can be tough to facilitate. Our kids’ attention spans are shorter than ever and we need to find creative activities to keep them interested in life outside of their phones and video games.
If you find that your family has trouble connecting due to digital distractions then read on for some great ideas on how to spend quality time with your loved ones.
Here is a list Analog Moment ideas to try with your family.
Put a Puzzle Together
For families that enjoy putting puzzles together, find one with enough pieces to keep you busy for several days or more. This way, you create multiple opportunities to spend time completing the puzzle, instead of just a one-time experience. Puzzles are also great for working on problem solving skills and learning how to accomplish goals as a team.
If you have small children, you can find a puzzle at their level and act more as a spectator or cheerleader as they do most of it themselves. For older kids, let them enjoy the challenge but be involved as an active participant.
Fly a Kite
In the warmer weather, when the wind is strong enough, going outside to fly a kite can be a great way to spend time outdoors. You can work in some physical activity and see the excitement on your kids’ faces when the kite gets airborne for the first time.If you’re a family that also enjoys turning everyday moments into Broadway musicals (guilty as charged), you can sing the “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” song from Mary Poppins to really embrace your time together.
Read Out Loud Together
Studies have shown that children (and adults) who spend time on screens before bedtime have trouble falling asleep. Instead of giving your kids access to devices before bed, choose a book to read as a family before your kids go down at night. Take turns reading aloud one page at a time.
This is a great way to instill a love of reading in your kids, while also building their confidence and creating an opportunity to bond as a family. Reading also fuels children’s imaginations, which is a vital part of childhood. Give them something pleasant to dream about, instead of the brain-sucking scenarios portrayed on their devices.
Play a Board Game
Think “outside the box” when it comes to playing board games. Yes, there are digital versions of many games on tablets and video game consoles, but playing those completely defeats the purpose of making quality time that doesn’t involve screens.
Whip out a family-friendly game like Candy Land, Life or Twister (if you want to squeeze some potentially back-breaking physical activity in). Kids love these games and they are great for learning more about strategy, fairness and humility.
Do Mad Libs
One quick way to get away from video games or the television is to play a game of Mad Libs. Your school-aged kids will really enjoy making up stories and laughing out loud when you read the results. Laughing together is a great bonding experience for your family and you will all chuckle at the funny stories you come up with.
Plus, this is a great opportunity for your children to work on their grammar skills. They won’t even realize that each time they come up with a noun, verb or adjective, they are filling their brains with knowledge. Take that, Snapchat.
Bake a Treat
My kids absolutely love baking with me in the kitchen. Whether it’s brownies, cake or cookies, they get so excited to put on their aprons and
mess up the kitchen make magic. The sooner your children start to learn how to bake, the better.
Through baking, you can teach your children about responsibility, have a conversation about ingredients and give them something to look back and smile on when they are all grown up. No need for phones in the kitchen here; memories will be stored in the heart. (And the belly.)
Color a Picture
Adult coloring books are very popular because they help relieve stress and give grown ups an outlet for their creative talents. Most children also enjoy coloring, so why not make a family affair of it?
Sit down together and have an at-home coloring party. Enjoy the way each person expresses themselves through their work, and use it as an opportunity to talk about the other colorful parts of life. This also gives you a chance to practice colors if you have small tots who are still learning theirs. Really blow their minds by showing them how to create colors by mixing others together.
Take a Hike in Nature
I know it might be tempting to take along a phone to use for GPS, but a “no phone zone” makes the best hiking trail. Find a path you’re familiar with so there’s not a risk of getting lost. Enjoy the sounds and sights of nature while doing something that’s good for your body and mind.
You could also take a hike down to the lake and do some fishing, or rent a canoe for an hour. Being on the water is so relaxing and is a great way to clear your children’s minds of the clutter they fill them with from technology all the time.
Take a Bike Ride
If you live in a neighborhood that has shops and restaurants nearby, taking a bike ride to the local ice cream shop or other hot spot is sure to get your kids off their phones. This experience is not only bonding, it can also build additional trust between you and your children.
When several people have to follow each other and figure out how to navigate somewhere, it teaches them how to trust the people they are with. Whether your child follow you or vice versa, faith in one another will be required. Cell phones will not.
Do a Craft Together
Each month, our local Home Depot hosts free DIY workshops for kids. They get a craft kit and special apron at the event and get to take their creations home. My kids love going to this. If this isn’t available in your area, you can still have fun building something together.
Craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby often have blank canvases and other supplies that you can use to make a craft with your children. Build a birdhouse, paint a masterpiece, dye a t-shirt; there are plenty of options. This allows your children to unleash their creativity and you get the privilege of watching their talents unfold right before your eyes.
Visit the Dog Park (and leave your phone behind)
Pets are just as much a part of the family as anyone else, so whenever possible, include them in family time. Going to the dog park will give your four-legged family member a chance to socialize, get exercise and enjoy time outdoors. You get the joy of watching Fido make new friends and run around.
If you are able to walk to the dog park, that’s even better. Spending time outdoors and incorporating physical activity into your daily routine helps maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. And, of course, no devices are necessary to enjoy the great outdoors.
Quality family time is slowly becoming a rarity in society. It’s really sad that so many people are more connected to their devices than to the people they love. You can be the change you want to see by insisting your children put down their phones and video games so you can all spend time together as a family.
Once you make a habit out of spending quality time together on a regular basis, those devices won’t seem nearly as attractive.