Unplug Your Kids – Connect Your Family with Family Game Night

(This post is not a sponsored post. I’m not making a penny off of it. I was asked by Carrom Co. to participate in this adventure and blog about it, and I happily agreed to do so because I think it’s awesome and agree with their concept wholeheartedly!)

I have a confession to make.

My name is Tron, and I’ve been using electronics as a babysitter. I’m not proud of that fact.

In fact, it’s gotten so bad that I may need to enlist the aid of some Stormtroopers to pull my kids away from their devices and into another galaxy – the Family Game Night Galaxy Funzone (I just made that up – you can use it if you want).

This is our first year homeschooling, and in the process of trying to adjust our daily routine to make things work for everyone, I admit that I have allowed my two boys WAY too much time plugged into (or wirelessly connected to) their electronics – iPads, Xbox, Wii, and television – mainly so I can get my own work done in between the schooling, but also so I can maintain a bit of personal sanity, and hygiene (I seem to remember something called a shower…that you got to take on a daily basis…).

We’re only a couple months into the homeschooling year, and “plugging in to tune out” is already becoming a bad habit, for all of us.

Plugged In

As a “travel writer and blogger,” I also enjoy organizing family roadtrips and travel adventures for our entire family. Again, I admit that I let the kids spend too much of their cartime with their noses stuck in an iPad instead of taking in the sites along the way. I remember my childhood roadtrips fondly, back in the “olden days” when we didn’t have electronic and virtual worlds to hold our attention. Instead, we spent our time playing road games such as “Bug” (counting Volkswagon “bugs”), counting cows, or playing the highway alphabet game (using road signs, license tags, etc… to count from A to Z). I also developed a love for reading maps and looking for interesting unplanned stops along the way, which helped lead to my passion for travel, adventure, and exploring as an adult, so much so that it has even become a career for me now.

But if I allow my kids to keep their heads down 24/7, how can I ever expect them to experience exciting new places and adventures that might trigger their eventual passions and even careers?  How will they ever notice the attractions outside the window, learn to engage with others socially, or gain a true curiosity about the world around them when they are only interested in the virtual reality they are plugged into?  Those games, videos, and movies that exist on these little tablets are too great of an enticement for their attention when we, the parents, don’t set the parameters.

And, I have to admit, they also allow me to become a lazy parent. I’m way too dependent on them myself. Time together as a family is precious. We have only 18 short years to spend with our children, loving them, teaching them, and just enjoying our time together. How much of that am I wasting by being “plugged in” so much? Do I want my children to grow up learning their values from cat videos and Weird Al on YouTube, or do I want them to learn their values from their parents?

vintage board games

There IS a Solution

Recently, I attended BloggyCon 2014 in Cedar Point, Ohio. One of the sponsors of this event was the Carrom Company, a 100-year-old quality family games manufacturer.  They played a video for us at the conference that woke me up – like a punch to the gut! I think you might want to watch it, too:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Ilf8QILdc

After we watched the video, the Carrom Company representative told us all about their national effort to “Bring Back Family Game Night.” What a terrific idea! It’s so simple that it’s brilliant!

This national effort to bring back family game night Thursday, Oct. 16th, is called “Unplug your Kids: Connect the Family.”  The initiative calls upon families in America to put down their mobile devices, turn off their TVs and put away their laptops and tablets for one night to sit around the kitchen table or family room playing their favorite board games in an attempt to re-engage the family in real conversation and nostalgic fun.

Fave board game
One of my fave board games as a kid

The initiative is the brainchild of Norman Rosen, Carrom Co. Chairman of the Board, who was disheartened to see families out to dinner not talking to each other because everyone – parents included – was staring at mobile devices. “I saw all these people in the restaurant staring at their phones and not talking to each other and I said to myself, ‘Don’t they have anything to talk about?’ It made me wonder how parents and children could sit around a table together and not converse.”  And so Rosen created the Unplug & Connect event as a way to get families to put down their devices and connect – if only for a day. The virtual event is set to take place in all living rooms across the country, and Carrom hopes that families everywhere – helmed by parents – join the mission to unplug.

My family has committed to participate, and we hope that YOU and YOUR FAMILY will join us!  Families can join the Carrom Unplug event by sharing their pledge and agreeing to unplug on the Carrom Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/carromcompany.

“I hope parents and children come together Oct. 16 and laugh and play and remember what’s most important about the family,” Rosen said.  “Togetherness.”  

I know, you might be asking, “What is this strange thing you call a “board game”???” Well, I’m old enough to still remember what they are and can actually tell you! They are clever games, usually designed to be played by 2 or more individuals or teams, around a board, sometimes with dice, moving parts, things called “tokens,” and even “play money” – can you imagine??? They also usually require actual LIVE HUMAN INTERACTION, often resulting in something called CONVERSATION, and even LAUGHTER!  So, beware, you might just find yourself having fun with LIVE HUMAN BEINGS, in the SAME ROOM!!!  Oh, how I wish I had some photos or video of my family members playing epic games of “Aggravation,” “Uno,” or “Monopoly” together!

Family Board Game

If you are looking for some board games to get you started on this new venture, check out Carrom Co.’s website.:  www.carrom.com. Carrom Co. is the manufacturer of games including the Carrom board, Nok Hockey, Skittles, Hi-Bol, Bowl-a-Mania, Shuffleboard and others, created in the USA in Ludington, Michigan.

My boys LOVE chess and checkers, and my oldest son even competes on a chess team, so the traveling chess board, with magnetic board and pieces is the perfect game for us to take on those roadtrips, especially when the scenery is just not that interesting and the interstate is monotonous. My son now teaches me new chess tricks, and I guess it’s okay to get kicked around the chess board by a middle-schooler on occasion. Carrom Co. also makes additional travel game sets, so it’s simple to find something that multiple family members will enjoy away from home.

( Psst!  There’s also a coupon code for the site, if you want to order anything! Use coupon code UNPLUG to take 10% of your order at their website right now! http://www.inhomegames.com/  )

So, if you want to participate in this, I invite you to start with us this Thursday night! There’s no better time to get started! Figure out what YOUR FAMILY can do while unplugged – play board games, make s’mores and tell stories around the campfire, or even drag out the instruments and start a family band! Whatever you do, I’d love to hear about it, so after you sign the pledge on Carrom Co.’s website, come back here and leave a comment letting me know how you all spend your time unplugged – I can’t wait to hear all about it!

 Blessings!

Tron 🙂

Die, Stormtrooper, Die

 

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