“Show me any two people who have fun together frequently and I’ll show you a good relationship.” – Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.
Do you have fun with your children?
These days many parents are in survival mode. Lives are busy with work, extra-curricular activities, overseeing homework, and completing chores around the house. We are on our devices checking email, researching, or answering work-related question. Often, there is little time left for fun. Yet, fun is necessary if we want to strengthen our relationship with our children.
Fun is an essential ingredient in strengthening a relationship with a child.
Do you want to reconnect with your kids? Try a tech-free weekend. Going tech-free will allow you and your child to be fully present with each other.
Research on the Importance of the Parent-Child Relationship
“In a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family Values, 680 married couples were examined for signs of attachment/detachment behaviors within their relationship. Research showed that many individuals who had depression, anxiety and detachment behaviors had previously experienced detached childhood relationships with their parent(s).”
“The study concluded that the parent-child relationship affects attachment security, anxiety and depression in adulthood.”
If we want our children to become secure individuals, we must nurture our relationship with them.
Our Tech-free Weekend
I discovered the value of tech-free weekends when our family went on a camping trip for new cub scouts. We didn’t know anyone else at the camp. We went as a family and left all of our devices at home.
My husband loved being outdoors and in the mountains. I enjoyed participating in the planned activities with my sons. We had fun making up skits, singing songs, struggling with the crafts, and even shooting BB guns (an entirely new experience for this gun-shy mom). It was nice to have fun together.
What We Learned
During our tech-free weekend I learned that at home, it is unusual for me to give my children my complete attention. I’m always tying to get the laundry folded or answer an email as I listen to my children tell me about their day. I tell them to wait five more minutes before I play games with them because I just want to get the dishwasher loaded before bedtime. When I have downtime, I often scroll mindlessly through my social media feed.
My sons play games in their tablets when I want a quiet coffee or I want to cross off one more item on my ‘to do’ list. When we are on our devices, we are not really listening to each other.
Our tech-free weekend in the mountains allowed me to be fully present with my children. There were no distractions. I couldn’t flip open my phone because there was no reception. I didn’t realize how often I try to multi-task when my kids are around until I was able to get away and have fun with them in the mountains. Our tech-free weekend allowed me to reconnect with my kids. It was a good feeling.
Tips for Creating a Tech-free Weekend
You don’t have to go camping in the mountains to have a tech-free weekend. It is possible to simulate the experience without fuss. You don’t even have to go tech-free for the entire weekend. Even a day or afternoon will do. Here are some tips for going tech-free and reconnecting with your kids:
1. Go somewhere
Leave the house, even if you just go to the park down the street. Leave your distractions behind. Leave your phone behind. If you need a phone, put it at the bottom of your bag so you won’t be tempted to look at it.
Grab a Frisbee, pack a picnic, and head out with your child. Do something new. Try a game of tennis or cycle to your favorite ice cream shop. Make some memories. When I was little I loved when my dad would have an ‘ice cream’ attack resulting in a family bike ride to 31 Flavors.
2. Notice nature
Take a walk in the woods and look for animal tracks. Collect sticks, acorns, or pine cones. Bring them home and create something with them. Examine the trees and see if you can name them.
Or, spread a blanket on the ground and look up at the clouds. What animals or objects do you see in the clouds?
Identify birds or flowers at the park. Think about the season and find evidence of it. If it’s fall, appreciate the colorful leaves and talk about what happens to the trees as winter approaches.
Awaken your child’s curiosity (and your own).
“Exposure to nature not only makes your feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.”
Listen to your child. Look at them as they tell you about Minecraft. Usually my eyes glaze over and I nod and reply with “uh, huh” when my children tell me about video games. During our tech-free weekend, I focused on what my children were saying. I asked them about their favorite songs and games. They loved it and chattered on happily while I tried to follow along.
When you really listen to your children, you show them that what they say has value.
4. Let go and laugh
Let go and laugh, even if your five-your-old wants to tell you the ‘knock knock’ joke he made up for the 1000th time. Find the humor in his persistence.
Be silly with your kids. Tickle them. Chase them. Do a happy dance together. You’ll all feel better.
Laughter has physical benefits as well.
can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.”
5. Get moving
Children need to move. When you move with them, you’ll benefit from the endorphins and let go of stress.
Go hiking, kick a soccer ball, fly a kite, or play tag.
6. Sum it all up
At the end of the day take turns sharing what you liked about the day. Children are quick to move on to the next thing. Take this opportunity to remind them of the fun you had together.
How did your tech-free weekend go? I’m sure it was met with resistance at first. But, when you get out of the house and away from distractions, you create the conditions necessary for shared fun. Share fun strengthens your relationship with your child.
Even if you can’t go tech-free for the entire weekend, you can try it for an afternoon. Anything helps. Reconnect with your kids. It is critical for your family’s well being and your child’s self-esteem. It is also good for you.
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