Want to spend some quality family time together without sitting on the couch watching TV? Experts agree that too much time spent watching TV can lead to problems such as obesity and increased violent behavior. For children under the age of 2, television viewing can take up valuable time needed to explore and learn about the world during a time of extremely rapid brain and body development. Even many adults find it difficult to unplug from the world of TV, Internet and cell phones, so having one night a week when everyone unplugs from digital media and spends time together can benefit all members of a family. If you’d like to unplug but are stuck for alternative ideas, here are a few fun ways to spend a TV-free evening.
Read Books Together
All children love to be read to, both for the one-on-one attention they receive and the stimulation of the story and pictures. On a TV-free night, pull out a big stack of books and let your kids pick the stories that will be read that night. You could even go down to the library after dinner for story time, or meet up at a friend’s house and read stories together in your pajamas.
Put on a Play
Try acting out one of your favorite stories together, such as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. Many kids have a natural talent as actors and actresses, and they love to dress up in costume too.
During the warmer months of the year, an evening walk around your neighbourhood is a great way to spend the evening. Whether or not you have a destination, such as a local playground, or simply wander for a while, exploring your neighbourhood on foot gives you a better chance of meeting other local folks.
Sing and Dance
Put on your favorite music, turn it up loud and leap around the living room together! Wooden spoons, pots and pans and a few dried beans in an empty water bottle make great instruments for improvised accompaniment.
Nothing warms up a chilly evening like hot, freshly baked cookies. Baking with your kids is fun, as well as a great opportunity to see the magic of fractions at work as you measure out ingredients. The best part is gathering together to eat warm cookies with milk before heading off to bed.
If you’re used to having the TV on all the time in your house you might find it a bit strange to spend a night unplugged, but getting busy with activities and playing fun music will help keep you and your children entertained and occupied. Of course, not all television is harmful, and there are many wonderful programs to educate and entertain all members of the family, but spending one night a week unplugged will help to bring balance and a different quality of family time into your life.
Originally published on Suite101.com on March 16, 2008.