My children are now five years old now, and when they were tiny, I heard the same refrain from people we’d run into at the park, the store, school, or wherever. They’d say, “It goes so fast!” or “enjoy this age!” or “I remember when my kids were that age!” I think about this every day, and it’s SO true!
So much of our lives take place in a virtual, online environment, and much of our attention is taken away from the physical world in front of us. When we’re immersed in the digital world, that time seems to slip away even faster, and it can strain the relationships we have with our kids, our spouses and our friends. Fortunately, there are tools and techniques to help keep that in check, and I’ll discuss two of those in this blog post.
First, I’ll recommend a book. The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair and Theresa Barker, (find it here on Goodreads) is a book that discusses internet technology’s role in building and managing our family relationships. I read it when my kids were infants, but I recommend it at any age. Their writing is concise and research-based, and includes many anecdotes chronicling parents’ struggles with managing their children’s screen time, and even detoxing when technology dependence has gone too far. They discuss both the potential deep and lasting effects of technology at home, as well as how to use it to your advantage. It’s so important to develop healthy habits around this powerful tool, and I continue to implement many of the recommended practices at home.
Secondly, and because it’s still January, I recommend the program “Everyday Outside.” This is a program started by some Michigan parents that has spread nationwide. The Facebook group has over 6,000 members, and we’ve had a blast with it so far. Participants challenge themselves to spend 1,000 hours outside in 2021. Most of our outdoor time is spent together as a family. It slows us down, helps us connect, and it’s a shared goal. There are some really cool mandalas to print off, and the kids color in a segment every time an hour is logged. It’s really fun, and we’re working our way through the “First 100” card (I shared a photo of ours so far) and then we’ll switch over to the 1,000-piece mandala. My kids are really into it, and we count our outside time at school toward our total.
The digital world is extremely rich and immersive, and often it’s designed to keep us locked in and using it more. It’s important to have some tools to back you up as a parent to remain connected to your kids, and to continue to stay close and connected with them as they grow. There’s nothing more important than the relationship kids have with trusted adults, and these tools have been helpful in keeping me focused on that principle. Thank you for reading, and please reach out to me if you want more information!
Here’s a link to the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16248085-the-big-disconnect
…and Everyday Outside: https://www.facebook.com/groups/everydayoutside
…and the printable mandalas: https://www.1000hoursoutside.com/trackers