Being stuck together with your family in your house can have an upside. Michelle Nortje provides some inspiration for fun activities that don’t require technology when you just want to foster a greater sense of connection with your family.
Technology has become such an integral part of our everyday lives, that imagining our weekly routine without it seems bizarre. But, as valuable as technology has been in making parts of our lives simpler and more efficient, it can also sometimes get in the way of ordinary relating, and can affect the quality of the time we spend with our loved ones. Television, laptops, cell phones, video games and social media apps can become all-consuming!
Loadshedding has perhaps been a necessary reminder that we do not need electricity or technology to build better relationships.
Here are a few ideas on how to make the best of our time and experiences with our families and friends without needing electricity or technology.
Reading together with mom and dad can be a very special experience for children. Children often remember experiences that differ from the monotony of their usual weekly routines. Reading with your child is not only valuable for their language development, but is also such a meaningful way to strengthen a bond.
2. Storytelling traditions
Passing on family stories and tales is a wonderful way to help children understand the richness and depth of their family history. We can often get so caught up in what needs to get done each day, that we don’t always have time to reflect and talk about the past.
Children can develop a deeper understanding of their ancestors and the kinds of traditions that came before them when parents share stories about their upbringing or even their parents’ upbringings. touching experience for children. It also allows them to understand how quickly the world around them is changing and growing.
3. Stretching your imagination
Another fun idea to help build your child’s imagination, vocabulary and capacity for self-reflection, is to have storytelling competitions. This also allows children a space to free associate and to make sense of their experiences during their days without you having to ask too many questions.
To start off your storytelling competition, you might want to write a few themes or topics (e.g., my favourite animal, the biggest fright, my magic wand, my worst day etc.) and place them in a hat. Then each family member gets a turn to tell a magical story. You will be amazed at what big ideas little minds can create! You might even want to make the story into a play, where dressing up can make their stories come alive.
Modern children can often be found glued to their screens playing a variety of games, but it is recommended that preschool and primary aged children only spend 20 minutes to an hour on screen time each day.
Games and tech-free play are a way of providing fun learning spaces without relying on technology to provide the entertainment.
Games that do not require any kind of electrical component can still be enjoyed as a family.
Board games, card games, puzzles, arts and crafts and Lego building are a great way of practising turn-taking, strategy, patience, perseverance, planning, creativity as well as critical thinking.
5. Have a braai
Instead of relying on our kitchens and stoves, having a simple braai can be a valuable parent-child activity. There are many steps in this process that can be elaborated on for children of different ages. Fire safety, building a braai, how to use matches, healthy food preparation and learning about the effects of heat can be both educational and fun.
6. Outdoor explorations
Being outdoors if you do have a garden is a wonderful experience for children and families to learn about their external worlds without needing to rely on too much technology.
Night time for example, offers a fun opportunity for star gazing, learning about star constellations, the phases of the moon, and the other planets in our solar system. This might mean parents will also have to do some research beforehand as well!
During the day, take time away from the television set to go for a walk in the garden or bird watch. You can teach your child about the names of different flowers, have a sword fight with some sticks or play ball. There are endless options for outdoor games and sports. This way, children are learning about nature and their surroundings while also building muscles and keeping fit and healthy.
7. Create a tech-free room or time slot
You may begin to realise how much time you and your children actually spend watching TV or playing games on a tablet! Going tech-free (even for a portion of one’s week) may start to seem more appealing and valuable.
You may want to try having one room in the house where no technological equipment is allowed, or having at least an hour a day when there is no technology in use. This way, we come to see that we actually have lots of quality time that we can spend with our families, that easily gets sucked up by technology!
We certainly cannot live without technology anymore. However, being confined to our homes all day, does provide us with a good opportunity to connect with our family without technology.
But it is also important to remember that humans have social needs to connect, play, interact and learn through experience and doing. If we are able to create a useful balance between technology and more simple ways of being, we may notice we can create homes with less tension, rushing and disconnectedness.