By SHANKARI CHANDRAN
One day soon, the iPad and other screen-based devices may replace all forms of play previously known to mankind.
Now I am not completely against screen-based devices for children. There are times when I am outsmarted or simply ground-down by my four offspring, and ‘screen-time’ as it is now known in modern parenting parlance, is my only lifeline. I use it as a reward, a threat, an education tool and a distraction*. There are times when that screen is my best friend (God bless you Steve Jobs).
Just as an FYI, this post is sponsored by Springfree. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
However, in our house, screen-time is also in danger of becoming the default play (and exercise) option for us. The challenge for me is finding a way to nurture active kids who love going outdoors, rather than simply playing Wii Sports. Here are some of our attempts:
1. The International Chandran Handball Federation (ICHF)
Every generation has its thing. When I was nine, my girlfriends and I played elastics. I am super-uncoordinated so this game always ended painfully for me.
Handball is The Game of the Moment – it has its own rules, language (“Intoes!!”) and cult of celebrity. Everybody wants to eat lunch with the reigning champion at my kids’ school. It’s so cool it has its own international federation (not to be outdone, I created one of my own). Line disputes require impartial adjudication and rights of appeal – bad line calls are never forgotten. At our local primary school and in our back yard, handball is a very serious sport that masquerades as a really fun game.
2. The Classics
Despite the passing generations, some things never change. When Husband comes home, he puts on his trainers and plays Tips with the kids in the back yard. He looks so darn cute it makes me want to have babies with him all over again. Then one of the children falls over and hurts themselves, wails annoyingly and I get over it.
Variations of the game include Hide and Seek Tips and Stuck in the Mud. As the non-athletic member of the family, I get to be “Homey” which involves standing in the middle of the maelstrom, like a static and aerobically-challenged beacon of hope and safety. When you hug Homey, you can’t be tipped “it”.
3. The Trampoline
This fine piece of recreational engineering could fall into the category of The Classics but it’s so much fun it really should have its own, separate category. A few months ago we bought the Springfree Trampoline and the kids are on it constantly. When Husband announced that he wanted to get the children a trampoline, I had my concerns.
“What about falling off?” I asked him – to which he said “Aha – the Springfree Trampoline has a wall of fall-proof mesh around it, and even you can’t fall out of it.”
To which I replied, “I can fall out of anything.”
To which he replied, “No really – it is the World’s Safest Trampoline. I can zip you in. It is Shankari-proof.”