Snow Day or Screen Day?

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The alarm goes off and your children, who generally can't get out of bed at 7 a.m., come running in your room to announce, with very loud voices, "It's snowing! There's no school today!" Immediately you think of all the wonderful family time that can be had. You grab your robe, contemplating visions of hot chocolate, board games and enriching family conversations; you may even light the fire!

By the time you get downstairs to make a leisurely pancake breakfast, your kids have vanished. They are nowhere to be found. You hear some familiar yells from the bonus room and you walk in to realize that they have been kidnapped, once again, by the video game. A sigh and a sting of disappointment set your mood as you make your way back to the kitchen to drink your coffee and check your email, alone and quiet. Why aren't your kids running outside to play with all the neighbor kids in the snow? When you were little, you loved snow days, filled with playing outside, building forts in the house, and playing cards with your sister. Why are they not interested in the same activities? Because they have found a low-effort, high-reward activity that has captured their hearts and brains: video games! While screens are a great tool for many things, screens should not be the first go-to entertainment activity on our kids' list.

With a smile on our face and a happy determination in our hearts to save our kid's childhood, mothers are whipping out the puzzles, re-reading the rules for our board games, and researching exciting books to rekindle the love of reading for our kids. We are dumping out the bucket of Legos in the den (and being OK with the mess), talking more to our children, turning on some tunes and installing basketball hoops in our driveways. We are turning off handhelds and holding off on smart phones for our tweens. We are no longer afraid of quiet time, because we realize that only in boredom do our children learn to use their own creativity and imaginations. We realize that our toddlers, tweens and teens need more family time, they need more exercise, and they all need more time outside.

What are you going to do this snow day? Make it a special day for you and your kids. Do a little bit of work and then make it a screen-free afternoon. Play Monopoly, teach your kids how to play a real card game, help them bake some cookies from scratch, take a long walk, have a reading round-up (where everyone reads together in the den), play some fun 70's/80's music and teach them to dance in the kitchen. Write a handwritten letter to grandma, go outside and explore, put some markers and watercolors out. Most of all, learn to be happy without a screen and have fun!

Moms Managing Media is happy to join Charlotte Parenting with this new blog series to inspire and encourage parents to take a low-tech look at the digital diets in their homes and choose alternative activities that will their enrich their children's lives and development. Be enlightened and empowered by the common-sense, active-parenting approach to healthier family relationships in the digital age. The MMM Squad specializes in teaching parents the principles of balancing technology with childhood through our signature straightforward, no-nonsense practical advice that can work in your home. The MMM message inspires, motivates and challenges parents to enable their kids to thrive in their world of screens, video games, smart phones and social media. Join our next monthly meeting, scheduled for Thursday, March 5 from 9:30-11 a.m. at Covenant Day School in Matthews.