We are a family of four. We lived abroad for almost a decade and recently shifted back to Bengaluru. This was a great opportunity for me to design my new home, set new rules, correct my previous flaws, and bring a fresh routine in our lives. India is a very colourful and lively place. There is so much more to see and do than just mobile and television and gadgets.
Technology, gadgets and internet were overused not just in our house, but in the entire city where we lived. The major culprits at home were television, our smartphones, tablets and Wi-Fi connections. I wanted to get rid of all of them, but that was an insane thought altogether. So I wondered if there was a way to banish at least a few and minimise the usage of the remaining.
After our relocation, the first step towards bringing a revolution in our home was to say NO to television. So, we did not buy a television and instead got a compact radio. It not only brought back to us our childhood memories, but also humour, creativity and variety in our daily lives — all thanks to the cool RJs we have in the FM industry these days!
Sometimes, I turn on the radio and dance, at other times when alone, I smile at their witty conversations. There were also times when my partner and I debated over a hot topic that the RJ seeded into our brains!
Apart from the TV, I also said NO to a few other things. I discarded the Wi-Fi operated lights, the voice-command gadgets were kept aside, and the fitness watch wasn’t really a necessity. I felt like I was on a “de-clutter” mission. My house was finally turning into a beautiful home!
Next, I focused on what the children needed. I got plenty of board games, puzzles and books. Jenga cubes, Monopoly, 4-in-a-row, chess, carrom board, memory games, etc. Get your kids addicted to storybooks, pictorial books and activity books. You may buy an encyclopedia, dictionaries and vocabulary books to encourage them to search manually, instead of depending on gadgets for information.
As parents, take time to understand your child’s strengths and invest both time and money in nurturing their talents. Once you know their talents, put them into coaching classes and sessions so they master in that field. This is a sure way to reduce their time on gadgets, and also a way to socialise with other kids of the same age group. Other alternatives that I often choose are to take my children out to parks, play badminton or hopscotch on the streets or go cycling to the nearby market.
Children always get very enthusiastic when you give them a responsibility or when you tag them with a name/position. In our family, we have a Yoga Guru and a Dhyaana Guru. My elder one, who is 7 years old, has a flexible body and we noticed that she loves to try new dance steps and yoga poses. So I introduced her to some basic poses and made her our yoga guru.
My younger one, who is just 4 years old, has a surprisingly enormous ability to sit and meditate at this tender age, inspite of her naughty sibling’s distractions! So we have tagged her as our dhyaana guru.
Weekly once or twice, we all simply sit, following the so-called guru sitting in front of us. We do a basic Suryanamaskara, or simply hum OM, with our eyes shut, for a couple of minutes. It surely makes them feel special, thus helping them to put their heart and soul to nurture their own talent.
Another great idea that popped in my mind was to bring home a pet. Pets are a great way to kick out the gadgets. Instead of spending an hour in front of the idiot box, why not spend an hour with a cute little kitten or a puppy? Trust me, their love and mischief act like a stress buster.
To encourage young minds to move in this direction, you may perk their weekends with a movie in the theatres or a little dance party at home with the neighbours, an occasional bowling or a karaoke event, or simply anything that your family loves to do together.
It is not possible to get rid of all gadgets entirely. But you can reduce its use, set rules and know your limits. Stay close to nature, go on walks, socialise, watch the sunrise, listen to the birds chirp, get a pet, do art, read newspapers/magazines, and try introducing your children to traditional games that you played during your childhood.
It’s time to bring a revolution, within you, within your home — if not for yourself, at least for your little ones, for those delicate brains to sprout well, for those little souls to enlighten in the right direction, for those tender hearts to flourish the right way.
(The writer is a software engineer based in Bengaluru)