The school year is underway and families are busier than ever. It is hard enough trying to balance all the activities and homework, but throw the constant temptation of technology into the works and finding time to be together as a family can seem almost impossible.
There are two major drains on our families lives these days, the first being the time we spend outside our home. Families are so busy in individual activities, that we are never home to be together.
The second drain that keeps our families from spending time together is technology inside our home. It is inevitable that our homes are filled with technology. It is that day and age. But just because we are all under the same roof, doesn’t mean we are together. Someone is on the computer, someone is watching tv, someone else is on their phone, the list goes on. Technology keeps us from having “Eye Contact” with our family members.
Given that technology isn’t going anywhere, and “iContact” is inevitable, what can we do to ensure that we still have “Eye Contact” with our families?
First we need to make better use of our time. For example, we all need to eat. Well I know I need to eat. :) And everyone in our family needs to eat also. So, make better use of the fact that we are all going to eat dinner, and do it together!
We most likely spend time driving family members to and from activities. Instead of spending that time watching DVD’s and having kids play on smart phones, turn off technology and make better use of the drive time by talking with one another, playing games and having conversations.
There are benefits that will come to our family, that we can’t receive any other way. Unless we put away the technology and make “Eye Contact” with one another.
Now, I know what you are thinking. “But Heather, there is still technology all around us. Can’t “Eye Contact” and “iContact” co-exist”? The answer is yes, but we need to find creative ways to bring the two together so the technology doesn’t hurt our family relationships.
Here are a few ideas.
1. Gather each family members playlist and play music in the background while your family sits down to eat a meal together or as you work together.
2. Establish rules about how much technology your children can consume each day. Then, while they are watching their favorite shows, make it a rule that they have to get up and run around the house, do push ups, jumping jacks, or sit ups, every time a commercial comes on.
3. Create an online scrapbook that everyone in your family can contribute pictures too. It is so easy to upload pictures these days, most of us do it from our phones. Once a month, sit down as a family and have each person explain the pictures they have loaded and talk about all the fun things you have all done over the last 30 days. This is a great way to chronicle your families life and keep pictures organized also.
4. Take your TV and movie watching one step farther. It is very common that during movies, when family members have questions (especially our children), instead of answering them, we “Shhhhhhhhhhsh” them. This immediately tells them the movie or show is more important than they are. So, establish “TV time outs” during the movie. Every 10 minutes, pause the movie and ask if there are any questions. Then talk together. That way all family members know that they are more important than the movie.
5. Use the technology on everyone’s smart phones, computers and iPads to schedule a family activity in everyone’s calendar. Set up reminders so no one forgets. Then when everyone gets together, have them drop their tech into the “tech basket” where it will stay until the family activity is over. Have fun enjoying the activity you planned together, tech free.
6. When your kids ask questions like “what does an Ostrich eat” and you just don’t know the exact answer, whip out your smart phone and teach your child how to look things up. When you have found your answer, sit down together and draw a picture of the Ostrich eating.
7. When you have an upcoming family vacation or trip (or even a family activity), give each person in the family an assignment to research. Someone could be in charge of researching places to stay, while another person can research places to eat, or the best route to take if you are driving. Come together as a family to report your findings. Talk about all the options, and plan the trip together. Making sure to not let the tech takeover once you are on vacation.
8. Technology is a great way to stay connected to family, extended family, and friends. Establish a time when you come together as a family to skype or google hangout with loved ones. Before you start, sit down together and talk about all the fun things you want to share and any questions you want to ask while you chat. When the call is over, turn off the computer and talk about all the fun things you learned from the conversation. Take it a step farther and write a letter or put together a care package for that person. It will make their day.
9. Use online resources to research your ancestors. Make connections with family members and do genealogy. If time and money permit, plan a trip to visit some family sites and family members. If you can’t physically visit, no problem, use your new found knowledge to create a family tree to hang on your wall. Or gather pictures of ancestors and create a collage in frames as a reminder of where your family came from.
Technology has the power to take over our families lives. Draining us of the most important relationships we have, the ones we develop with our families. Nothing is as powerful as “Eye Contact”, but when we carefully and creatively combine “Eye Contact” with “iContact”, the two can co-exist to enhance our family relationships.
How do you use technology to strengthen your family?
How do you make sure technology doesn’t take over your family time?