I’m currently sporting a particularly ugly scar on my knee, the result of a summer family cycling trip gone spectacularly wrong.
I can’t say I have any regrets though, as any family time that doesn’t involve devices these days is precious.
I don’t begrudge my 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old twin sons device time altogether – they are smart kids, doing well at school and involved in various sports and other activities, and I enjoy a bit of television binge-watching myself.
It just seems most battles around the home relate to the use of devices. The amount of time spent on them being the biggest one. And when their time is up, they struggle to know what to do with themselves, despite being surrounded in books, games and musical instruments if it’s wet; bikes, scooters and skateboards and a nearby park when it’s not.
We live in a shared driveway with plenty of other kids their age and while they do play together, it’s usually only after all the adults have kicked them off their devices and told them to find something else to do.
As a parent I try to do something with them, but sometimes I just want some down time myself – a chance to sit down and read a book.
After moving from part-time to full-time work recently I told my kids they had to clean their own bathroom and vacuum a few rooms each from now on, which has been quite successful – albeit with a financial incentive (an extra few dollars deposited in their bank accounts each week) – and another way to get them off their devices.
My husband has also roped them into more work outside, including help weeding the garden and mowing lawns.
We’re lucky in that they’re old enough to understand the more everyone pulls their weight around the house, the more time we can all spend doing the things we enjoy, and Mum and Dad are generally less grumpy!
Quality family time in our house is dinner at the table together every night where we discuss how our day was, anything new we learned today, the things that made us laugh and the things that annoyed us. There are no devices, including television.
Often the conversation is carried over into the spa pool – also a device-free space for obvious reasons – during an after-dinner soak. Our new house came with one, and while the cost of running it almost forced us to get rid it, the realisation that it resulted in better communication, most noticeably between my husband and myself, means it is here to stay.
Kerry has more than 25 years’ experience in community and daily newspapers, specialty health and education publications, ‘mummy blogging’, freelance writing, and event planning and coordination.