Here’s a New Year’s resolution that may scare you! But it’s also one that could have profoundly positive effects on your family. Do you think you could resolve to live without television or computer games for an entire month?
The computer would be used for work purposes only (homework, jobs, and so forth) but not entertainment. And you can’t cheat by watc
hing videos on the computer!
Do you think you could do it? If you’d like to take this plunge, here are some ideas on how to keep your resolution, and some of the effects your family will likely enjoy.
1. Hold each other accountable. If you’re going to do this, no one can cheat. Make sure everyone is on board, however reluctantly. Even if your kids do not want to go with it, as parents you need to make sure you stick to the resolution and keep the television and computer games off.
2. Focus on the positive – emphasize all the things you can do now. Has someone in your family always wanted to learn to ride a bike, explore a particular natural area, or view the stars? Now that you are unplugging for the month, take advantage of the free time and do those things. Point out that you are doing this-and-such activity (perhaps watching a meteor shower) because you aren’t watching TV or playing computer games.
3. Make plans to fill the void. Replace computer games with board games and card games. “Parlor games” are also fun, like charades.
4. Read books as a family. In the days before visual and auditory media, families would take turns reading aloud to the family. Try reading a play with everyone reading a different character’s part. You may even want to put on the play.
5. Family members can learn to play an instrument, and have family “concerts” or recitals. Other skills that can be showcased in this way include drawing, painting, singing, sewing, and other crafts. Think how much your family will learn about each other this way.
6. Have a cookout. In fact, cooking outside saves a lot of energy, and you can engage in some really interesting energy projects this way. You don’t have to use fire to cook out, although that’s fine if your property allows. But you can also make a solar oven with aluminum foil and cardboard boxes. Let your kids build an outdoor oven like this and cook various foods.
7. Plan outdoor activities. There are concerns today that kids are not getting enough of the great outdoors. Go on hikes and explore the landscape. Use field guides to identify birds, plants, rocks, and other interesting things in your area. Whether it’s cold or warm weather, there is something fascinating to discover in nature. If you live where there is snow, play in it! Take “snow walks” through the woods or your neighborhood. Study snowflakes under magnification.
By the end of the month, you probably won’t even miss the television or computer games. And your family will have a greater appreciation of each other, enhancing familial relationships.