I am a horrible mother. At least that’s the phrase that reverberates in my brain when I think about the amount of time my daughter spends on technology. OK, I guess I am not THAT horrible, since I am mindful of this sad fact and that I care. I would be a far more sucky caregiver if I didn’t notice or if I just didn’t mind.
Kids really do not need a guide to be kids. But with all the television viewing, movie watching, video game playing, Minecrafting, iPad’ing, iPhone app fiddling, and other hi-tech this, that and the other — our kids are missing out on those oh-so-fleeting moments of childhood and trading them for a virtual existence. They are forgetting — or simply not learning — what it’s like to be a human child living in the real world. And you know what? That sucks.
While keeping the kid preoccupied with these devices may be a quick fix for Mama, I have started to see side effects and they’re not pretty. She was grouchy, tired, and listless as she became way too dependent on technology. I started to freak out. What if she became a couch potato? What if her imagination was stunted? What if she hurt her eyesight? So. Many. Fears. Like a parent needs more of those, right?
I realized I had to do something to break this cycle that was leading to screen addiction. After picking up my 8-year-old from school, I broke the news to her: We would be doing a tech-free week. I was hoping that she would be excited about the challenge. To embrace this experiment! To hug me and tell me I was the best mom in the world for caring! But no, she pouted. She pouted a whole lot. She started to panic. But I was undeterred.
This summer we should let our kids embrace the dirty, messy, silly, skinned-knee-acquiring days of school break. As a reminder of what it’s like to be a kid, here are 30 things to do this summer for kids, and adults!
What will you do?
- Don’t bathe for three days in a row.
- Chase a butterfly and see where it leads you. (Just watch out for traffic.)
- Get so lost in a book that you forget to eat.
- Lay on the grass and try to figure out what shapes the clouds are making.
- Make a cake without using a recipe just to see how it turns out.
- Perfect the cartwheel.
- Climb a tree and go higher than you think you should.
- Have a water balloon fight and let your friend win.
- Send a letter to someone, anyone.
- Eat a bowl of ice cream without using utensils.
- Try to run as fast as you can.
- Save up all the pennies you can find during the summer. At the end, count them up and buy something.
- Invent something. Anything!
- Stare at a map. Try to pronounce all the states and countries. Pick one place that you want to go to and learn as much about it as you can.
- Make up a dance routine to your favorite song. Perform it for your friends.
- Plant something.
- Make dinner for your family. (Your parents will be stoked!)
- Write a poem rhyming the words “zoo,” “egg” and “three.”
- Go through all your stuff and donate the things you don’t need anymore to charity.
- Stay up way past your bedtime.
- Make up your own language. Try to use it all day long, no matter how much it annoys people.
- Learn 30 new words. Try to use them in everyday conversation as much as you can.
- Wear your pajamas all day.
- Earn a new nickname like “Scout,” “Huggie” or “Miss Sassypants.”
- Try a food you’ve never had before — the weirder the better.
- Build a fort and see how long you can keep it up. Bonus points if it stays upright beyond 48 hours.
- Play an old-school game like jacks, hopscotch or marbles.
- Have a staring contest with a cat. Try to win.
- Rearrange your room. If you don’t like the outcome, put it back the way it was.
- Stare at the stars and learn about a new constellation or two. Then makeup one of your own.
- Bonus: Last but not least, enjoy every single day!