Do you ever fight with your child about how long they play video games or use their computer? If your house is like mine, some days it takes an Act of Congress to get my son out of his room and away from his favorite digital world. Sure, I’ve bribed. I’ve threatened. I’ve fought. All efforts can be fruitless when you’re having “one of those days,” right?
I don’t have to spell out the consequences of a child being penned in a small room, sedentary for most of the day. For my child especially it affects his sensory system and hyperactivity level directly. Not to mention the irregular eating and sleeping schedule and lack of desire to wear more than boxer briefs as additional side effects.
Last weekend I was tired of the arguing, coercing, cajoling, and emotional outbursts (not mine!). I had a full day of freelance work ahead of me but I didn’t want my son to be a hermit all day, offering occasional appearances spinning through the living room like the Tasmanian Devil. I invented a fun way to allow us to interact more and give him regular, much-needed diversions from Minecraft.
Sort of making it up as I went along, I gave my son a digital timer set for 27 minutes and instructed him to close the computer and come out when it went off. He was not in trouble and it wasn’t a new “rule,” rather a game we were trying.
When he came out I also closed my computer, put my phone away, and we played tic-tac-toe and hangman on paper. We had so much fun we started drawing afterward!
Wrapping up that enjoyable break, I handed him the timer, again set for 27 minutes. The next time he came out I had the table set with a fun “food-sculpture” breakfast laid out (yes, I play with my food!) for us both. We enjoyed a really nice, uninterrupted meal together.
The next round of our 27-minute break consisted of an obstacle course I set up in the back yard. The next, brushing the dogs together. No matter what project or email I was in the middle of I would close my computer and prepare something for us to do with our break. The exciting part was that when he came out each time he never knew what activity to expect.
What do you think started happening? The breaks starting becoming longer than the 27 minutes on the computer. My son’s mood and energy were consistent. We laughed. We engaged. We got stuff done.
In my current reality it is not always practical to get in the car (the one where the air conditioning doesn’t work – UGH!) and go do fun stuff. Sometimes I have to make do with what’s going on at home. The 27-minute game is a great way to have fun and manage both my son’s and my OWN habit of burying our faces in the computer for too long.
How about you? Do you have a way to keep healthy intervals flowing in your home? Share your thoughts by commenting below or posting on the SOA Facebook page!