The Balancing Act

I begin this post late late into Wednesday evening after spending a great deal of time working on a computer and using various kinds of other technology so there is a great deal of irony in everything that follows. The world has changed so much since I was a child. It’s hard to imagine that things can be as different as they are. I mean do you remember what movies used to be like? Can you remember the Nintendo and Sega of yesterday vs. the Xbox and Playstation of today? The kind of budgets and action you saw in hit movies during my childhood you see in just about every action TV show today. It’s like some form of entertainment is always accessible no matter where you are and no matter what you’re doing. There’s gaming consoles if you don’t have that there’s television. No TV, just use your cell phone. Battery Dead, Grab the iPad. I believe you get my drift. There are so many things and industries that work very hard at gaining our attention and at some point in time one or a few of them end up getting way more of our attention than is healthy or necessary. The changes that have taken place aren’t bad and in many ways they make learning and so many other benefits far more accessible than they have ever been. As adults many of us have jobs that are tied directly to the use of technology and I am a believer in the fact that there is no problem with people doing what they enjoy. What I want to focus on in this post is how this new era of never ending over availability of digital entertainment can and is affecting our children and families. This post isn’t about telling others what to do when it comes to how they raise their children. This post is me taking a look at my personal shortcomings in this area and really trying to think about how to bring about more balance in our own household when it comes to this issue.There was a point in time when we had a little basket that we placed all phones, iPad, Kindles and other devices in at  certain times of the day and before bed. We didn’t really specify what other things had to be done during this time it was just our way of declaring at this time anything we do won’t involve an electronic device. Over time we have gotten further and further away from that rule and I’m thinking its time to get back to it. Please don’t get me wrong, I believe that we have reached a point in our society when it is in our children’s best interest to become aware and start learning computer skills and other things of this sort very early because as many of us know even a lot of their school work is done on computers or is app based. For many, textbooks that can be brought home are a thing of the past. So whether we like it or not that’s the reality. In saying all of that there are some things that should never change and exploring the outdoors, playing with all kinds of new and interesting objects, using our imaginations and just learning to sit in silent quiet reflection are some of them. I believe we need to adopt the craze that has taken over how we think about eating and apply it to our daily living. We need to spend a little more time enjoying life the all natural, organic way. Not necessarily forsaking one for the other or declaring one of the alternatives evil. We’ve just got to guide ourselves and our children to have some BALANCEIn case you’re wondering how we are planning on doing this, Here’s a few of the things we are going to try going forward:

*Remember to do these kinds of things in Love. It’s a home not an institutional facility so everything doesn’t have to be set in stone and don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t work out the way it’s planned. There’s seasons to life and sometimes things change temporarily. So if you look up a month from now and things are out of whack just reevaluate and reset. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re less of a parent or person because they do things you won’t or can’t do and likewise don’t treat others as if you’re better because you feel like you are more advanced in your way of doing things. Because one thing’s for sure there’s lots of ways to get the job done.

1. Make A Device Basket

We are going to put that Basket back to use. It is going to be a rule (especially for the kids) all phones and pads stay in the basket when not in use and in order to use them you have to ask. No having them lying next to the bed or keeping them on your person. Because if it’s near you or on you the temptation to use them can be too strong to resist (even for us as adults). l devices go in the basket when we go to bed, during dinner and while we are doing anything as a family. One thing I do remember about the time we had the device basket in use is the fact that the kids tended to forget about them when they were not near them.

2. Spend more time doing things as a family

There’s more to it than just saying hey turn that game off and sit in there and look at the wall. Have dinner together at the table as much as possible. Take the time to ask each other how the day was and talk about plans for the days ahead. Many times we tend to plan family projects and things to do for the weekend, but I really would like to work on thinking about every day as a opportunity to do something new. Doing things during the week is hard with school and homework and all of the other commitments and things that have to be done. That doesn’t mean we can’t flip the script every now and then and maybe plan a crafts night at a local center on Tuesday evening. There’s nothing wrong with kids having a nice daily dose of chores. We have been conditioned to think it is cruel for kids to have to do reasonable work, but it’s Ok for them to sit in front of a screen for hours. when you really think about it, that doesn’t make sense. That kind of mismanagement of time is far more detrimental than a healthy dose of daily chores will ever be. If we are not careful we will find that our children are spending so much time in front of the computer because we are not doing our part in showing them the even cooler alternatives. Have them help with dinner. Pick up a  science experiments book and commit to doing an experiment at least once a week. Exercise together. Play Simon says. There’s endless possibilities we just have to continuously make sure we’re not becoming complacent and doing what’s easy instead of doing what’s best.

3. Be the Example

It’s kind of hard to tell the kids they are spending too much time on the iPad when majority of the time they see us we’re on the cell phone. This is a hard one for me because I am currently working at home many nights after work and the majority of what I do requires a computer. I am sure it’s the same for many of you. But at the end of the day, my job is to make sure  that that I require my kids to do what’s best for them at this stage of their lives. They might not feel it’s fair or think it’s right but when it’s all said and done they are the kids we are the adults what we say goes (that kind of thinking seems to be becoming more and more nonexistent). Don’t get me wrong, even if our professions require a more than average use of cellphones, laptops, pads etc. we can still live in a way that serves as an example. Like not carrying the phone to bed (putting it in that basket). Not looking at phones during dinner (put it in the basket). Managing time in a way that allows you to be without electronics for periods throughout the day when you are with the family. Many of us have to be aware and come to terms with the fact that the children aren’t the only ones who have an undying urge to be connected, this behavior is learned and we are teaching it. Making this commitment is not only gonna help the kids, it’s going to help us as well.

As I stated at the start, this post isn’t about bashing any parenting methods because I truly understand the challenges of raising children and just living in general. And I believe that things are different for every individual. For example, if one of my children showed interest in learning to code. Quite naturally, I would let that child spend more time on the computer than the others in order to nurture that gift. So ultimately you have to do what works for you and your family but I just wanted to share. Ultimately, I just want to see a little more balance. Our kids are great, they spend a lot of time working  hard I just like to make sure I spend a lot of time thinking of how I can help them to be better. Even if you don’t have kids I believe these are a few changes that can be helpful to us as adults as well. If you have any neat systems or rules that you implement in your household that you feel would be helpful please share in the comments! I’ll be sure to revisit this topic from time to time as we learn new things. If you’ve made it this far, Thanks for reading, Til next time…

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