May 01, 2020
One of our favorite #ParentingHacks.
Sometimes, it seems like it takes an industrial crane to extract my kids from their screens, TVs, iPhones or iPads. There is little that can break the zombie-like trance. Luckily, we have a very cute and very loving furry family member who falls into the small category of things that has the highest percentage of breaking the screen time spell (McDonald's is up there, too).
Her name is Duke, and she is our 2-year-old retriever, who has boundless energy and is always up for playing. One of the things I appreciate about Duke is her ability to pull them away from screens, which due to coronavirus, has been a much more common occurrence. The extra hours in the day have freed up plenty of time for "extracurricular" activities such as video gaming, YouTube-ing, TikTok-ing and whatever else kids are doing online these days.
The Best Distraction
Duke, however, continues to serve as a nice distraction from screens and is a forced foray back into the real world. Guilt trips help, too, with statements like: "Poor Duke looks sad because she hasn't gotten a walk yet today." That statement, along with the promise of a family walk, rallies the family to hoist themselves up from the couch to motivate and get fresh air.
Other activities that the kids have done with the dog include but aren't limited to:
- Doggie Spa: Bath time for the dog and an hour-long diversion for the kids. Coaxing her into the tub takes at least 10 minutes.
- Doggie Salon: A spray bottle, a brush and a clip-in ribbon make for a very pretty and well-coiffed puppy.
- Doggie Story Hour: Kids practice reading while Duke gets lulled to sleep surrounded by a bevy of stuffed animal friends. If she is lucky, books about dogs are the selected materials.
- Doggie Hide and Seek: Kids hide and Duke has to find them (the lure of treats certainly helps the hunt).
- Doggie Baking: Duke doesn't need to don an apron, but she solely benefits from homemade doggie treats that the kids bake for her.
- Doggie Races: A long hallway on our second floor makes for a perfect "racetrack," where kids run back and forth while Duke chases them. Cardiovascular activity for all.
Last but not least, cuddle time is high priority when the kids just snuggle with her, talk to her, and treat her like the baby of the family that she is. I am especially thankful for our furry daughter, who will continue to keep my kids' attention and serve as our longtime distraction from screens.