by Della H. Harris
In today's world, we're absolutely surrounded by technology. It seems we can't be anywhere without a smartphone, computer or television reminding us of their presence.
However, our growing dependency on these gadgets could come at a price. Our kids are certainly not immune or exempt from the nonstop barrage of noises, bleeps, lights and screens, either.
Are your concerns growing or are you just frustrated about the potential negative impact this might have on your child's health and development? As a parent, you can make a difference!
Since it's Screen-Free week, here's our top ten tips to encourage your kids to "unplug" and plug into life instead!
It's okay for kids to play in their rooms and be creative with their toys. To sweeten the deal, bring out a "new" batch of toys after recycling or downsizing the ones they're bored with. Read about how you can easily downsize your kid's toy collection.
Dance, blow bubbes, blow bubbles while dancing. How about a game of musical chairs or making your own music with homemade instruments? Invite stuffed animals (or your reluctant sibling) to your concert and fill up your audience. There's no reason why the whole family can't get involved, too!
Get out those old socks -- you know, the ones that will never see their match again, markers, squiggly eyes and whatever else you can come up with. Your kids can also snag a few paper cups and try their hands with a marionette. The kids can make up their own stories, or retell their favorites, in their own creative way!
You and the kids can build a bird feeder and see which birds come for a visit. The kids can make a simple bird feeder with an old soda bottle and bird seeds, or even use a pine cone and spread peanut butter on it and roll it in birdseed.
Bring a bag to collect a few sticks, leaves, small rocks or shells. Once you're back home, get out the glue and a piece of cardboard to create a memory collage or help your child make a shadow box for his or her room.
Have your child use your driveway or sidewalk as his or her personal canvas. You could suggest a fun theme if your child is out of ideas. When everyone needs a stretch, how about drawing a hopscotch board and get hopping!
Indoors or out, you can take blankets or sheets and make a fort. Old boxes from a local store can work wonders, too. Plan out an entire evening with a campfire theme -- roast hot dogs and marshmallows, tell stories, make shadow pictures and finally camp out and sleep in that fort.
Nothing feels better than helping those in need. Have you and the kids sort through old toys and clothes for donation. When you're all finished, pack up the car and drop off at your designated local charity. On the way home, how about a trip to the park? Don't forget to bring a healthy snack and water!
There are lots of stores that host monthly craft days for kids. They're free or low-cost and your kids will come home with something cool they made! Take advantage of what your community has to offer!
Is "bored" a four-letter word in your house? Why not get the kids "cooking" in the kitchen? Pull out some fruit, sprinkles, pretzel sticks, raisins or whatever you find in the refrigerator. They can make silly animals to eat as a snack. The kids will not only have fun making the critters, they'll have something healthy to eat!
What are some of your tried and true ways to get your kids unplugged and outside?