JMJ *Set some limits, so that your own children can experience the same magic many of us are so sentimental about from our own childhoods. This is easier said than done, especially with today’s generation bombarded with so many electronic devices.
Ring the School Bell 128/180 Days
While our girls are beyond the “believing in fairies” stage of their childhood, we all still love fairy gardens when we see one. So today, we decided to put one together in our own backyard, with a little help from Sarah’s birthday gift card money, from her Aunt Ellen. What fun! The girls and I went to JoAnn’s where we bought miscellaneous items: three miniature fairies to represent each of my daughters, fairy fences, fairy swings, tiny rocks, and such. We also found an awesome Irish pub CD to regale us on future St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
With young children, fairy gardens are yet another way to enter the world of imagination, a place where they can “wile” away the hours with friends or in solitude.
Besides a few props, not much else is needed other than perhaps a few twigs, leaves and stones.
Pictured are a few photographs of fairy gardens built by my daughters and their friends, right in our own backyard. I am certain the magical fairies showed up when we were not looking! Which fairy would not want to live in one of these enchanting places?
Homemade fairy gardens remind me of my own childhood, when our family would camp in the Sierra mountains, and everything around me would come alive in my own land of imagination. An evergreen branch could be a broom, some piled logs could be my imagined home, and rocks a path. I remember spending hours with my siblings, creating imaginary worlds.
Imaginary worlds are in danger, folks.
Many of our kids are in danger of missing out on the childhood magic of the imaginary world, a place where creative thought and limitless possibilities reign.
What am I getting to?
I am speaking of the overwhelming amount of technology out there that threatens to suppress young children’s imagination.
Technology is wonderful in many ways, but as parents, we have the duty to make certain that it is not the only form of entertainment our children have, that technology is used in moderation and with controls.
Tips for Setting Limits on Electronic Devices
Set some limits, so that your own children can experience the same magic many of us are so sentimental about from our own childhoods. This is easier said than done, especially with today’s generation. When I was growing up, television was about the only electronic that could rob us of our creative play time, but now there are so many amazing electronics, with their accompanying social media applications, competing for all of our attention.
- Don’t let a new device enter your family’s world until you have given it serious thought. Don’t blindly say yes to a new electronic, and this includes gifts from other people. If you don’t know much about a device or a new app, learn about it before saying yes. It is much easier to say no initially, than to take back a privilege previously given to a child. For example, my husband and I decided to forego the excitement of having a game system or any other virtual games. We decided that for us, our lives were full enough already, and we didn’t want another electronic device tempting the kids, and us, away from more meaningful activities.
- I do admit, from time to time the electronic babysitter comes in very handy! Try and resist the temptation, however, to reach for the electronic device each time you want your child to be quiet. Try to invest a little time in trying to get them involved in a more creative endeavor such as building things with blocks. This creative activity may actually consume them for much longer than a trivial video game.
- Be a good role model when it comes to using electronics responsibly. Do not constantly reach for the cell phone every time you get a notification from someone who has just “updated their profile”. Give your child full attention when you are interacting with them. Also, discuss healthy and responsible behaviors with your children.
- Have areas around your house where electronics are not allowed such as the bedrooms. It is nearly impossible, in my opinion, to monitor devices in a child’s bedroom. Even smart phones, with all of those fun applications, may interfere with a child’s sleep.
- Postpone privileges until some level of maturity has been reached. For example, our kids could look forward to getting an email at the age of 16, Facebook at 18, and a smart phone upon entering college. I imagine it was a bit easier for us to postpone these privileges for so long, because our kids were homeschooled, but I would advise parents to give a lot of thought as to when these special privileges are introduced. Once the girls started college, of course, they took responsibility for their own electronic use, so for that reason it is so important to instill good habits while they are growing up.
- I know this is pretty obvious, but make certain to talk about social media traps and dangers such as online predators, with your children, once they are using a computer. For younger kids, it might be a good idea to obtain their passwords to check on accounts periodically. You might even consider setting up an account for yourself, and giving the application a try to make certain that it is a wholesome one.
- Choose times to completely unplug. We unplug on Sundays. Or unplug during special times of the year such as vacations or Christmas week.
- Keep the computer in the main room, for easier monitoring. We have ours in the den, for the under 18 crowd.
- Have fun together as a family. Don’t become dependent solely on electronics for entertainment. Build a fairy garden!
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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.
May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine. Annette