Christmas has come and gone all too quickly. The presents unwrapped, the ham devoured, the cookies turned into fat – and promptly placed under the skin on my butt cheeks. Before I became a parent, I failed to understand the irritation behind toys with no “off” button.
“What’s the big deal?” I asked myself, as I stared curiously at the half-hearted smile on my brother’s face.
The sight of the brightly lit and excessively loud toy made me and my niece smile, so what was the problem?
I realize now as a parent that my brother was probably thinking,
“This toy is going to drive me insane. Twelve straight hours of the same button being pushed over and over and over again? Stepping on it in the middle of the night, waking everyone in earshot? Yeah, this toy will need to be accidentally broken.”
With Christmas money and gift cards in my kids’ hot little hands, I can’t help but sway their innocent plans of bringing absurd toys into the house by finding a more “parent-friendly” distraction. I refuse to buy anything that allows my child to look at another screen. Everywhere we go, we are staring at rectangular, brain sucking monitors. And since we can only play in the cold outside for short bursts of time, mother must be creative.
Friday evenings are designated “Game/Slumber Party Night” in my house. I realize that many people have activities on Friday nights, but I am sure one night of the month can be set aside for quiet play. It does not matter if you are 3-years-old or 90-years-young, “quiet time” engaged with your family is a lovely way to reconnect in a world of digital over-connecting.
After I wrote about the Where the Wild Things Are board game, the lovely Mary from Patch Products was kind enough to send my family a new game to try out - Don’t Rock the Boat. Balancing small penguins dressed as pirates on a tipsy ship proved not only fun for the kids, but surprisingly fun for adults. The gist of the game is to avoid tipping the boat with the penguins. Of course, in true Rago fashion, we tailored the game to our families weirdness and required each player to shout out a pirate phrase while balancing the penguin.
“Arrr!” “Avast!” “Land Lubber!” and “Fire the cannons!” could be heard all around the neighborhood.
Slightly smitten with Star Wars? This origami book might be more appropriate for teenagers and “big kids” like my husband. Who knew folding paper could be so challenging? As we settled down from the bustle of the holidays yesterday, the spouse crafted a tiny folded Yoda while our 4-year-old daughter waited with bated breath to use her paper force. Equipped with detailed paper to make even a Sith Lord's heart flutter, this origami book inevitably make you bellow a satisfied Chewbacca-like gurgle/yell thingie.
Even if no one is interested in playing a game during your time together, allow each person to pick a corner of the room and just chill out. Encourage family members to bring out blankets, pillows, books, paper, puzzle books and markers. Find a station on Pandora that everyone can agree on. (We like the “Lord of the Rings” soundtrack variety, but we are nerds like that.)
You may not be interacting directly, but each other's presence in the room is enough to convince a mother that you all still live under the same roof together…