Americans aged 18 and older spend almost 11 hours per day using electronic devices, reports Nielsen in their most recent Cross-Platform Report . Break out of the norm and try “unplugging” for a weekend to discover new ways to strengthen your family bonds, boost your creativity, or learn something new. Start with these inexpensive and easy electronic-free activities for everyone: kids, animal lovers, single folks, and couples.
For kids…(with parent supervision)
Embrace an indoor game day . The trick is to set a time limit for each challenge and give them multiple “lives” or opportunities to compete; the time limit creates a sense of urgency and competition, while offering the kids multiple “lives” allows them to keep the game going without feeling defeated or discouraged. Here are three easy indoor games you can play with household materials:
- Build plastic cup pyramids . Contestants have to stack 15 plastic cups of the same size in the shape of a pyramid and then return the cups to a single stack as fast as they can.
- Blow up one or two balloons and challenge the kids to keep the balloon/s in the air for as long as possible. Make it even more of a challenge by saying that your hands cannot touch the balloon, or that you can only use your feet to keep the balloon off the ground. Whoever keeps the balloon in the air the longest is the winner!
- Cook your own play dough (with parent supervision) and have fun molding castles, animals, pretend food, and more. Easily cook up edible or inedible play dough with ingredients you already have in your pantry.
If the weather is pleasant, go on an exploratory nature walk in your neighborhood or nearby park. Give your child a disposable camera and a plastic bag to snap a picture or collect anything from your walk that interests them. Have the film developed and craft a scrapbook or story with the pictures and collected items.
For animal lovers…
Pack a picnic and spend the day at the zoo , or, research local animal rescue shelters and volunteer to walk dogs or play with kittens. The animals will appreciate the love!
If you already have a furry friend at your heels, take them on a daytrip to a new park, on vacation, or to an obedience class. To find pet-friendly vacation spots, visit www.dogfriendly.com or www.petfriendly.com for a list of restaurants, beaches, hotels, and B&Bs that accept animals. You may need your computer to do a little research, but you won’t need it to have fun with your pet!
For single folks….
Write a letter to a friend or aging family member. If you’re not one for handwritten notes, this will be a fun challenge! A recent study showed that the more letter writing people did, the more their happiness and life satisfaction improved.
Choose one room in your home to clean , de-clutter, and redecorate using items you already own. Ok, so maybe this one doesn’t sound that exciting, but the outcome will be rewarding. Plus, this time around you won’t face any distractions from the TV or your email inbox!
Research your favorite restaurant meal and re-create it in your own kitchen. Invite friends or family over for an unplugged evening of conversation and a dinner table game like “Celebrity” or “Detective.”
Sign-up for a one-day class at your local community center. Interested in dancing, painting, learning a new exercise or self-defense? Take a quick, one-day class to bolster your skills and make new friends.
Cook extra meals and stock up your freezer. When life gets hectic, you’ll appreciate these ready-to-go meals . Make this a team activity –go through the pantry to see what you already have, shop for the right ingredients, clean your kitchen, decide on a cooking order, and then indulge in bites of every meal together!
Give each other a massage. Without the distraction of television noise and text message notifications, pamper one another with a long massage. Pick a relaxing scent like warm vanilla or lavender and buy lotions and candles to match.
Build your bucket lists. Create a bucket list (list of things to do before you die) for yourself, for your partner, and one together. Then, get moving and start crossing things off that list!
When you’re 95 and look back on your life, you likely won’t remember your most “liked” picture or your most popular tweet. You’ll reflect on your fondest memories with friends and family, and the experiences you shared with them when you set down your phone, shut down your computer, and opened your eyes.