We talk a lot about the benefit of taking our kids outside to play on the street and getting them away from too much “screen” time. But in this part of the world, that’s a difficult thing to do during the long, dark, cold months of winter. Most families with young children understand the benefits of having a way to keep the kids engaged and busy indoors for more than a few minutes. Books, games crafts and free play only work for so long. Television and computer games help fill the void, but aren’t that great at encouraging family unity. But they can’t be completely avoided in our modern, tech heavy world. As a compromise, our family decided to get a Wii system because many of the games provide an opportunity to get up off the couch and be active. We like the way we can play as a family spending time together. The problem, however, is that simply having time together is not the same as spending quality time together..The other day, I dragged the kids outside away from the television and video games. We took a ride on our bikes and when we got home found a few of the neighbourhood kids playing outside on the street. Soon, we had the sidewalk paint out and all the kids were having a wonderful time getting messy. Then we got out the water guns and cooled off by spraying each other. The best part is that the whole time we played together as a family and as neighbours. The adults got their fingers dirty along with the kids. We laughed and told stories about what we were drawing on the sidewalk. We used our imaginations to create games that included chasing and spraying each other. The whole episode only lasted about an hour before we had to get ready to do other things and the neighbours had to head off to their own commitments. But we all parted, happy and refreshed.
Without any effort, we had accomplished everything that we hoped to achieve with a video game system. The kids were active, they played together, used their imagination and they filled a void in a long day. We did it all as a family (and as neighbours). Most importantly, it was quality time.