Friday, May 18, 2012

KaBOOM! Summer Challenge

HomeI have 21st century kids. They are modern, tech savvy, gadget lovers. Mattie is not quite 3, but she can play a game or open up NetFlix on an iPod Touch (even choosing and starting a show) all by  herself. We don't allow them to be tethered to electronics 24/7, and they do enjoy things like dance lessons, bike rides, and jumping on the trampoline. But...sometimes, I will admit it feels like we're fighting an uphill battle.

We have a pretty big yard with a trampoline and a swing set. We have a garage full of bikes, scooters, wagons, and balls. Our porch is always littered with bottles of bubbles and tubs of sidewalk chalk. We have a basketball net on the driveway (actually, one for the big kids and one for the little kids). We go to parks and pools and lots of other fun places.

Still, though, my kids are perfectly happy inside. YouTube, OnDemand, Wii, and Leapsters could entertain them almost endlessly. At times they need to be reminded to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Sometimes they whine and moan because they don't want to be separated from the constant flow of information, stimulation, and communication with friends that they have grown up with and become accustomed to.

Times have changed, and I'm all about embracing change. In some ways, the world is a vastly different place than it was when I was a kid. In other ways, it's quite the same. Kids still have a boundless, enviable supply of energy that allows them to run, ride, jump, skip, swim, dig, chase, and climb to their hearts' content. But they have a lot more distractions drawing them inside. They rely less on playing with kids in the neighborhood, and more on texting/emailing/Skyping/Facebooking to keep in constant touch with all of their friends. Diversions come at the the push of a button. (Not that I didn't watch my fair share of Brady Bunch and Leave It To Beaver re-runs when I was a kid!) I want my kids to be up-to-date and to know how to do all the latest and greatest. But I also want them to enjoy and appreciate the world in more of an old-fashioned way. And yes it is hard to acknowledge that the ways of my own youth are now considered to be old-fashioned.

Last summer we sort of implemented a month long television hiatus. I say "sort of" because we made way more exceptions than we originally intended. But I would still say it was fairly successful. This summer we plan on doing the same, as well as having stricter day-to-day rules regarding screen time. And a year makes a big difference in the life of a toddler/almost preschooler. Mattie can now go outside with the big kids, without me needing to be out there with her constantly. I am really looking forward to a summer full of digging up worms and running through the sprinkler. While I watch from the comfort of my air-conditioned family room. Joking!. Sort of. I will be outside with them quite a bit too, playing and tending to the outdoor chores.

We will be traveling quite a bit this summer, but when we are home I want to spend lots of time with friends and family, as well as checking out local attractions. Through Mom Bloggers for Social Good, I learned of KaBoom's Summer Challenge. KaBoom is a national nonprofit dedicated to getting kids outside to play and keeping them active. They strive to ensure that all kids have someplace safe and fun to play. You can register now and start the challenge July 1. There will be an app that participants can use to check in to as many playgrounds as possible. You can earn points and badges, and complete challenges to win prizes. Plus, the three top point and badge earners at the end of the summer will win a week long trip for 2 to Washington, D.C.! I signed up to be a BETA tester for the Android app. While I don't anticipate being one of the top three earners, I think this might be a fun summer for our family this summer.

Let me know if you decide to participate too!

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