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My boys have “discovered” new pastime.  Every night, while watching Psych on Netflix, they’ve taken to breaking out the Uno cards.  While I type up a blog post or crochet, they sit there, on the floor, happily playing game after game after game.  I couldn’t be happier.

Ignore the mess, please.  We haven't quite accomplished the goal of the Reasonably Clean House.  Don't tell Auntie Leila!

Ignore the mess, please. We haven’t quite accomplished the goal of the Reasonably Clean House. Don’t tell Auntie Leila!

They are children of a technological age.  Two of them have their own Nintendo DSs, they share the family Wii, and they know how to play Angry Birds and Candy Crush (on other people’s phones, not mine; don’t get me started on handing over expensive electronics to children).  Most of our schoolbooks are on the Husband’s Nook.  We look up bird calls for our natural science class on Youtube and have DVD players for the car.  And I’m fine with this, all of it, in moderation.  It’s part of life, even if it’s not my favorite part.  I see the benefits to some of it, and see that, when kept in check, there aren’t that many detriments.

But there is something about taking a break from it all that is so appealing to me.  When we get to the point where our children can no longer entertain themselves without electronics, we have a serious problem.  Sadly, I think there is a large part of the population of children that have reached this point.  I don’t know what to say or do about that, but I do know that I am happy that my sons haven’t.  They know how to unplug.  Perhaps this is because I force them to, and set fairly strict limits on their “screen time.”  Perhaps it has nothing to do with me or my husband and our rules and is something that comes from within them.  It may even be attributable to the fact that they have each other.  It’s been noted that children from larger families tend to have more pretend play.  Mine certainly do.  And, they play games. With each other.  Without me.  As a mom, this makes me happy.

The fact that they are happy to entertain themselves, without the use of electricity, isn’t the only reason this recent obsession with Uno makes me smile.  It’s also because, growing up, we were constantly playing board games, and card games, and charades, and (my Dad’s favorite) Encore! (the exclamation point is actually part of the name, not just my emphasis).  I look back on those times as some of the pleasantest memories I have. The whole family, whoever was home, would join in, and craziness would ensue.  There was laughing, arguing, good natured teasing.  We sang, we joked, we were together as a family, however large or small at the time, and we just were.  When I think of family, my mind almost always goes to these moments first.

Playing these games gave us all a chance to practice at being good winners and losers, and it enforced the idea that rules are rules.  Follow them or don’t play, because the game is no fun without them.  It also helped us learn teamwork and strategy.  Of course these are all things that could have been learned in a sport setting, but for us, it was board games.  These are necessary life skills, and this is how we learned them.

I’m happy my sons have found the simple happiness that can be derived from a good game of cards, actual cards.  I hope they carry these memories through their own lives as pleasant ones.

Getting the conversation started:

What is your favorite everyday memory from childhood.  I mean, not a trip to Disney World or that one time your team won the championship, but an everyday, at home kind of thing.

Do you limit your children’s “screen time” with specific rules or do you just keep an eye on it and cut them off if it gets to be too much or neither?

What activities to do you have for very active children (or for yourself) aside from going outside (we live in an apartment) or turning on the TV?