One of the most dangerous addictions affecting kids across the globe is dependency syndrome caused by Mobile phone overuse. There are horror stories published in newspapers about kids who get so addicted to electronics that it cause permanent damage to some of their skills. Myself and my wife decided to raise our kids with minimal to no dependency on gadgets. Our elder son is nearly 3 years old and this is how his day goes by. I will explain how we got here some other day. As of today, this is how his average day goes by.
Wake up alarm and getting ready
Ani’s school van comes at 8:00 AM sharp and to get ready, he should wake up by 7am at least. We wake him up at 7:00 AM and the first fight is while making him brush his teeth. I usually ask him to open his mouth and I do a quick check. I act like a dentist and tell him that there are lot of germs on left side or right side and that if he does not brush, those germs will give him tummy-ache. He obliges and brushing will be over in 5-10 minutes. Some days, he does it on his own and sometimes, I have to help him. That is then followed by quick bath. He loves taking bath so this is the easiest part of his morning routine. Just takes 10-15 minutes. We now have good 30-40 minutes to have milk and if possible, egg.
I can shove a smartphone and get all this done in half the time. But with no-smartphone approach, my son talks and talks and talks and talks with a real human being instead of following some on screen character and singing alone. My son asks lot of questions about things around him and he gets answers from a ‘real’ human being. There are many instances where he asks some really funny questions and that makes my day. When I am at work, those things come into my mind and I start smiling.
Milk, Walter, Dragons and Elephants
Ani hates milk products. Be it milk or curd or butter, he hates milk. It takes lot of effort to make him drink milk. Easy way is to make him watch some cartoon and shove milk down his throat. We took the ‘right’ way. On weekdays, we use ETL’s RFID enabled story books. These books came with a pen-like instrument named Walter that has built in speaker. He knows how to use Walter and that helps a lot. Ani loves stories and he loves it when someone narrates them to him. Whatever stories we narrate him, he narrates those stories to his toys in the evening when he plays alone with toys. ETL’s Values collection has 15 story books and each book comes with a message. The knowledge series has around 25 books and every day, he picks one of the stories and one particular book in Knowledge series, ‘Wheels and Wings’. Ever since we got these books for him, feeding him in the morning became less tedious task. Best part is that he is getting nutrition and knowledge early in the morning.
To school and back
First few days to school was hard for him as he had separation anxiety and since then, he loved going to school. The opportunity to play with lot of toys, to dance and sing, to meet new friends made him love his school. By the time he is back from school at around 12:30pm, Ani is hungry and sleepy.
Lunch with Mowgli
This is the time that he watches some cartoons. Given that we have restricted him from using phone and tablet completely, given that he doesnt watch TV too, watching cartoons etc for an hour a day is, in a way, good. After having lunch while watching Jungle Book, Ani takes a 2 hour long nap. He always wants Mowgli but we somehow manage to make him see different types of cartoons as that will give him more stories to narrate to his toys.
Evening with his toys
After waking up, for his milk time, wife either relies on activity books or she relies on toys to make him drink milk. Sometimes, she narrates stories for him. Till I am back home, he keeps playing with his toys or they both go for a bicycle ride or go to shop to get something. When I am back home, we usually play basketball in home followed by some puzzles and some Lego blocks. If I come home early, we go to park to play outdoor games.
Dinner followed by Indian Mythology
During dinner time, we usually watch some cartoons or we play in living room. Post dinner, I get on the bed and narrate Panchatantra or Indian mythology stories to Ani to put him to sleep. By the time he sleeps, it would be 10pm and I get so tired that I go to sleep few minutes later. Sometimes, I go to sleep while narrating story and he would be playing with a small toy that he takes to bed and goes to sleep.
Not everything is cakewalk
There are many instances when Ani gave us hard time. There are instances where we get extremely angry as he would not eat or he is extremely cranky. This usually happens if he gets bored or if he did not have enough sleep. Boredom can be easily rectified by starting some kind of activity. Crankiness and mood swings are so much harder to deal with. In those situations, we do hit ‘n’ trial. It can be bicycle ride, it can be cooking, it can be game of hide and seek. When nothing works, we wait for the day to pass. We would never give him a chance to feel that he can watch cartoons if he cries or irritates.
Fruit of our labour
Ani exhibits full range of emotions and had fully developed speech by the time he turned two. He expresses every feeling that he has during the day. His school teachers tell us that he knows everything and is a quick learner. When we visit our friends or family, he feels shy in the beginning but slowly starts interactive with them. After some time, he is full on active. The same is the case when we have guests at home. If there are kids, he asks them to come and play with him instead of digging himself in a phone or tablet. My kid is part of rare breed of next generation kids that does not know that there are games in phones. We are trying hard to make sure that his childhood is like our own, when we were in sync with nature and surrounding and we hope that we success in this hard journey.
We all are working so hard to provide quality life to our kids but what is the use if there aren’t enough memories of us with our kids! We should have enormous memories and they should not be ‘my kid started operating iPad on his/her first birthday’, ‘my kid knows peppa pig’, ‘my kid spends lot of time with tablet and phone’. Our memories should be more like ‘my kid did this mischief’, ‘my kid used to show stars on so and so day and we couldnt do anything about it’, ‘my kid used to shower us with hugs and kisses’, ‘I played lot of basketball with my kid’, ‘we learned this and that together’, ‘our kid would climb everything’, ‘we played a lot in park’ etc.