I have a daughter who would be five in May this year. She is active, sharp, school-goer, and really naughty when it comes to being silent and sit and relax–she is almost hyper-active, though I have come across many of my friends who have shared similar observations of their kids too. It seems the next generation has this common trait.
The one big question I always had in my mind after marriage and when my wife was pregnant was how to keep my kids away from TV and mobile phones, etc. I knew the digital age would make them get attracted to these gadgets. However, born and brought up in a countryside village, I was more oriented towards outdoor games and creative activities rather than sitting inside and playing games on small screens.
I do allow her to watch TV–various kinds of cartoons that she likes include Motu Patlu, Ninja Hattori, etc. She also gets to watch small videos of animals etc. on my mobile phone. However, I came up with some ideas that reduce her craving for TV and mobile phones. These activities do involve my own participation, or sometimes my wife gets to do them, so that my daughter just won’t ask for TV or a mobile phone. The main aim is to busy her mind.
I am sharing some of the activities that I involve my daughter in, and also sometimes my niece (!4 years old) and nephew (10 years old).
- Drawing and sketching: This is the number one activity when it comes to keeping children busy. It is easy, economical, does not involve too much of space and physical effort. I am not a great artist, but I draw various birds, animals and even still life objects for my daughter–she gets intrigued by the colors, shapes and also the names of these objects and wildlife creatures. She often tries to imitate me or sometimes wants to just color the shapes. I have also bought few books which she can color herself. Overall, it is quite engaging and learning at the same time. We can spend almost 1-2 hours on daily basis doing this activity. It is even good for grown-up children of up to grade 8 or 9.
- Gardening: This activity does involve a bit more physical effort than drawing or sketching. However, it is equally rewarding and fun-filled. You may not have a big space for gardening but you can still use pots, vases, and even custom-made vessels to grow small plants, flowers, vegetables etc. I did the custom-made pot thing in my house by cutting the 2L bottles of cola and soda. During summers, we consume a lot of these and the empty bottles are usually sold as scrap. So, I cut many of them and filled them with sand and grew flowers in them. I even hung these bottles by nailing them on a wall. All this activity was quite fascinating for my daughter. She watered these plants with me on a daily basis. This activity easily consumed almost half and hour everyday.
- Photography and bird watching: This may sound bit difficult and inappropriate for children but if you have some good places like natural ponds, lakes, nearby your house, this activity can be a fun-filled and educational one. I have some ponds near my town where we travel by car on any holiday or even a weekend–I take my camera with me and sometimes we take food items, and these little excursions become a family picnic sort of things. On the site, I make my daughter learn names of birds, tell her whether they are migratory birds or locals, ask her to locate similar birds, etc. Overall, a total fun but a learning experience. Due to serenity and coolness of the place, she really loves going there. This activity often takes more than two hours. This activity is doubly rewarding during winters because you can really enjoy the sunshine without worrying about sweating, dehydration etc.
- Singing, listening to music, and playing musical instruments: Let me assure you that you need not be a gifted musician or a singer to get involved in this activity. Remember, the ideas is to make them busy–if you feel your child has a special talent for any of the creative activity, you may arrange to provide proper training by a teacher or an instructor. Further, this activity can involve dancing also. I am no good at dancing and does not know how to shake a leg, but I do sometimes dance with daughter making funny moves and poses. I can sing a bit. So, I sing for her. I even play a little bit of flute for her–playing tunes of her cartoons make her happy. This may not be a scheduled activity and can be done anytime. Children often respond nicely to sound so music and musical instruments could be good for keeping them away from TV and mobile phones.
- Yoga poses or outdoor games: Children will love if you can play with them in the playground or even on the roof of your house. However, if you can’t do that or does not have the time, you can do light yoga poses with children. I thought about this when my daughter sat on my back and laughed when I was doing my own yoga routine! Due to more emphasis on yoga and also being included in schools, children already know a lot of poses and names of many of them. So, it is easy to do and also they get interested because they know about it. This activity is good for half an hour on almost a daily basis. I am almost inclined to call in salubrious but because that’s not the prime motive and may involve greater details, I will skip it. You can have a little bit of jumping, skipping, or even dancing involved in this.
Wrapping it up
Some of these activities may not be suitable or possible for some kids–try to improvise and devise similar activities that can keep them occupied and busy. A little bit of TV and playing with a mobile phone is not bad but excessive use is always not good. I hope you can relate to the experience of being a father and doing these activities. I will love to receive some comments or suggestions from parents–what you do, what you would like to do, and what you are planning to do!