Six months ago my husband and I did the unthinkable. We went cold turkey on screen time (for the kids – not us, that would be ludicrous). Notwithstanding the incredible benefit – a child who naturally goes to bed two hours earlier – for my stay-at-home husband, it makes for a Very. Long. Day.
The first time we needed to travel more than 20 minutes in the car, both my husband and I were on edge. I packed the snacks. All the snacks. Broken up into tiny pieces for maximum consumption time. I spent a fortune on audio books and made a huge deal out of them being for “special occasions”. I downloaded “Let It Go”, quite prepared to listen to it on repeat for five hours. For me, I’d packed ear plugs and noise cancelling headphones, but my husband (whose year 7 report card said simply “Matthew talks too much”) pulled a game from the depths of his brain which is now a staple of every family car trip.
It started with him telling a story. He’s a great storyteller and has me believing stuff all the time that is fictional. But, my heart drops a little when I hear “Muuuuuum tell me a story…”. I’m creative, but not in the off-the-cuff way that engages the kaleidoscopic mind of a three-year-old. So, I have observed my husband and in my type-A brain broken down what he does to make these magical stories. Here it is.
It all starts with the child in control (scary, I know). Ask them to choose three things that they want the story to be about. Three is an arbitrary number. I think we choose it because our daughter is three so everything is about three at the moment. Sometimes we get the response “nothing, a blue fairy and Harry (her brother)” which is OK – you can work with anything.