Unplugging the Kids

7/8/2013 11:20 AM
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The other day, I was overseeing an impromptu speech contest and the question pulled asked, “What would you do if computers and the Internet ceased to exist?”

The contestant's answer – it would be total and complete chaos or the next apocalypse.

 Of course, those of us in the room over 35 started to laugh because we do remember a life where computers and technology did not dominate our daily lives.

 Technology is a constant balancing act in my house.

 First, technology can be helpful around the farm. My husband’s farm recordkeeping continues to move from paper into his computer. I love my computer tablet because I have countless recipes at my fingertips and I don’t have to drag my laptop into the kitchen.

 And it’s nice to have all of my music available through my cell phone, leaving my CD Discman in the dust.

 The problem is making sure the kids don’t like my tablet too much. Things came to a head the other week when after picking my boys up from the babysitter and just barely getting buckled into their seat, my youngest asks, “can I play your tablet?”

 Of course the answer was no – with the classic reasons that it was a beautiful day outside, the sun was shining and they can make better use of their time, which was not the answer he was looking for.

 The battle to get the boys to engage their minds or participate in an outside activity is a challenge. However, my goal is to keep trying. Our backyard has plenty of fun things like a swing set and sandbox. And we have lots of chalk for drawing on the driveway.

 Also, my boys do enjoy helping in the garden and this year, they are pretty good help. When I cook, even if it slows things down, I try to let them help with the meal.

 Matt takes them to the farm for “adventures.” And we encourage them to make up their own outdoor games.

 One popular event is letting the kids create their own version of the TV show “Wipeout” in the garage.

The show has contestants run through crazy obstacle courses searching for an overall winner. It’s fun to watch them create a course with boxes, benches and other things around the house.

 For rainy days, I am stocked with a ready supply of Play Dough or have the ingredients to make the homemade version. Legos, car race tracks and a Thomas the Tank Engine set are other tools in my diversion plan. And I can never go wrong with paper and crayons.

 While technology has its place, sometimes old-fashioned activities can create more memories and be much more fun.

-- Charlene Shupp Espenshade, special sections editor

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7/24/2014 | Last Updated: 6:45 AM