Screen less Fun for your kids

10:10 AM

Ok confess, you let your kids watch a lot of TV during the Summer break. I know I relax the rules around the idiot box as the Mercury and humidity rise. We all do it.

There is a big difference though in increasing the amount of TV time and watching TV all day long. I am and always be against the later. TV all day long is dumb, and will only drive everybody crazy. You can't have crazy when confined indoors most of the day with no breather and escape possible. Kids have more energy than adults, and need to spend it constructively for their sake and yours.

The good new, is that they really don't have to spend all their time glued in front of a screen. Think about it. If your childhood was anything like mine, we had a very limited amount of TV channels growing up. And I am saying 2-3 at the max when I say limited. These channels had to have just about everything on them, not just cartoons the whole day long. And our moms had to deal with us during our Summer vacation just lie we do, heck they didn't even have tablets and smart phones loaded with kiddie apps.

And we turned fine didn't we? And ai don't think many of our own mothers turned completely neurotic not having the luxury of endless TV to keep us occupied while they went on doing their household stuff.

Frankly I remember my own mom managing to give us a lot of activities we could do on our own without her help when she needed to get other things done, or simply relax with a good book. There was no constant hovering and pressure to make us do the perfect Pinterest worthy craft project, or entralling us to bake the perfect organic, sugar free, and gluten free pie.
I had the right balance of independant activities and "mom and me" activities. And as you know already, I also had to help out around the house too. The option my mom had that I don't have in the Summer break is taking us outside in the middle of the day. Summer in most of India kicks your butt far more than it does in Switzerland.

These past two weeks, I have been busy collecting craft supplies, finding reading books, puzzles and indoor activities to keep Ishita occupied and entertained until the evening when we can finally venture outdoors. I let her watch the TV all morning (until 10-11am) because during that time I need my breather to gather the strength to go through the day, and then have all the usual household duties that come with the job of a SAHM. I then enrol her to do some cleaning, and we then have some screen less activities. Or together, or her alone while I read a book or write something.

Resist the urge to hover, this is very important for the sanity of everybody evolve. Kids should learn to do things on their own, and parents have to understand that letting kids play with a pack of play dough on their own is not child neglect.

Here are some of the things Ishita and I do at home during the Summer:

- Colouring and drawing. Nothing structured here, she takes her crayons, and do as she please, the only rule I have is that the scribbling stays on the paper. Doodling on the walls, floor and furnitures is not allowed (and punished).

- Painting and crafting. This we do together most of the time, she works on her own project, while I do mine. And now I have a special trick to make cleaning easier...more on it later (don't rob me of one blog entry forcing me to reveal it now)

- Loom bands. You know these colourful elastic bands your crochet together to make bracelet and other ding-wings? The ones that everybody seemed to have been into in the past year. We decided to take the plunge this year. Ishita can do simple bracelet on her own while I browse through YouTube to find tutorials for more complicated ones. This is something that is not only loads of fun, it also help develop a good hand eye coordination and sharpen mathematical skills (counting, patterns recognising and making...)

- Reading practice. Ishita's teacher asked me to make her practice her basic reading skills as she did have a little difficulty with it during the year. So, we bought a lot of early readers books with a lot of the sight words and easy words she has been learning all year round and she has to read one book a day, all Summer long. It is cool, she even gets to fill a reward chart each time she does.

- Unsupervised play time. She gets a lot of it. And don't go all crazy on me, I am just asking her to go play in her room with the toys she have. No dangerous substances or tools involved. Unsupervised playtime with building blocs, dolls and cars encourage kids to come up with their own stories and role playing. It develops the creative mind and help them solve problems on their own too. Meanwhile, you are free to cook lunch or dinner, or just sit down a couple of minutes to catch your breath...your choice.

- Puzzle time. As in jigsaw puzzles that is. Ishita surprised me this week by asking to do a puzzle, so we bought a 300 pieces one that we can do together. Puzzles are awesome. I grew up doing them. They were my mom and I favourite way to spend long Winter evenings. As I grew I frequently did 1-2000 pieces puzzles. And the more fun is that you can redo and old puzzle and still be challenged by it. We would put it on the big dinning table and do it whenever we had time. Some days we were just happy if we put about 20 pieces together in one evening (we choose them hard on purpose). Jigsaw puzzles are not only relaxing, they also sharpen the mind, analytical skills and spacial skills. I owe a lot to my years of jigsaw puzzle solving.

- Play dates. Kids can be very social, and need their friends. Invite some of them over, along with their moms. Let the kids play together while you enjoy a cup of tea, a few munchies and an adult conversation with your own peers. We all need to vent with our friends. The other moms around you are all going through the same challenge this Summer...think about it.

The whole point is that your kids need to have their mind challenged to grow. And , no, you don't have to be their personal entertainer 24/7. This micromanaging craze is something the internet invented to make parents who serve ready to eat meals once in a while guilty.

Repeat after me, you are not a bad parent for letting your kids have some independence...repeat again...and again, and again. Isn't the Summer break looking better and less daunting already?

 Surviving Summer

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  1. Anonymous4:18 PM

    In out times, holiday homework for school was probably the only activity given to students. Even the schools were not very much interested about it. They knew parents will go on a vacation with children. Summer holidays meant a fortnight at our maternal grand parents home in Patna, Bihar, which was in fact as hot as Delhi. I now wonder why we traveled from one hot place to another.

    Then ourcourse, there was the excitement of travelling a taxi which more like a space ship for us, considering the fact that virtually nobody had cars in those days. The trains were incredibly hot with virtually nothing available, not even clean water. The only thing available was chai in earthen pots. The platforms were more like deserts with some soggy chole puri or samosas. Now, train food is good since they have outsourced it and you are never lonely with hawkers coming with water/snacks, tea etc. Then, there were very few facilities and once you boarded the train, you were pretty much cut from the rest of the world. The train was like one hot planet. You cannot even imagine how uncomfortable the journey was. But we were not bothered. It never occurred to us that you could travel in comfort also. My father got the ticket fair from the government which was a small mercy in those days. Government servants still get Leave Travel Concession to travel either to their home towns or anywhere in India within a span of four years.

    I remember you once described the train as a giant steel snake with continuous activity. I liked that comparison. You were travelling to Bangalore, I think.

    Apart from grand mother's house we went to Puri in Orissa which is more like pilgrimage. We went for two three times to Kolkata. Travel in those days was confined mostly to visiting relatives place. Vacation for pleasure was not something people could even think about.


    1. The heat is the reason why we don't go to Lucknow in the Summer, Mumbai might be a humid hell, but at least the power doesn't go off for hours and evenings are still fine. Noway we would want to suffocate in 45+ degree with nothing to do but staying indoors the whole day and evening long.

      It's far more pleasant to travel up North around Diwali :-)

    2. Anonymous9:44 AM

      This is an interesting prespective about Sita who is often painted as the helpless women in Ramayana. Quiet intrguing.



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