The Joys of Going Screen-Free

Most families are probably fighting a losing battle when it comes to technology in the home, and we find it particularly hard when my older children are both attending some online courses both with Dreaming Spires and the local community college, their leadership program at the church uses social media to post important information, my daughter is an aspiring author with a Twitter campaign for agent submissions, and of course my own internet-based business.

Every summer, though, we try to carve out as much as a month to unplug, and the way our family transforms is as extreme as a caterpillar compared to a butterfly.

Not only do we read more, talk more, eat together more, tidy up more, get out to see friends and family, take long walks, and sometimes just “sit and be”, we’ve also taken on projects like jigsaw puzzles, photo books, re-decorating a bedroom, designing a zip-wire for the backyard, and my favorite, creating board games.

The premier board-game maker in our family is my eldest daughter who is now 17. This is probably because she is very artistic, yet not with pen or paint or anything like that, but with paper – origami and such. To cut out 150 little construction-paper discs is nothing too tedious for her!

The first year, the game was kind of like Candy Land, but with various obstacles like stepping stones across the river, or a springboard to launch your disk onto a target. One time, I think I spent more than thirty turns on the springboard, but perseverance paid off: I ended up winning!

Have you ever seen a mama have a tantrum?

The next year, it was a cooperative game somewhat like The Hobbit meets Pandemic. I really enjoyed playing this game almost every day as we refined the rules.

Rule number 1: Mom is always the elf!

I think it was about our fourth time through that we got to the crunch-point of the game: I had to fight one of the dragons, a process that came only after collecting tons of coins, tons of weapons, tons of extra powers and life-points, and then by golly, on the unlucky roll of one die …

Have you ever seen a mama have a tantrum? Well, I quit the game. I wouldn’t agree to play anymore, which of course meant the Elf wasn’t playing and he was kind of important.

Well, we tore up the rule book and started over with it, making sure that after all those phases of collecting, you were assured to succeed over the dragon. There were ways to lose along the way, such as not getting the right weapons or not having enough money or losing too many lives or having too many spooks on the board at once, but if you fought off all those obstacles, then you were sure to beat the dragon.

The Elf was back.

And thus the advantages of a screen-free holiday.

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