Faded Bluebird

Teaching Your Kids To Unplug

· Teaching by example ·

April 13, 2016 5 Comments

Yesterday was my Daddy’s 67th birthday, and if it wasn’t for my sister having my back, it would have blown past me.  Life got in the way and I have been so busy I haven’t even looked at a calendar lately.  Almost forgetting his  birthday was enough to send me racing on a guilt trip with a lot of scenic drives, but it brought up some great memories of what it was like when I was growing up.

I Think Santa Works For Apple Now

My life as a child was a series of adventures, but I don’t remember the toys and stuff as much as the things that we did together, my friends, family and I.  But when I do think about the toys and compare them with today’s toys, it seems that toys just aren’t simple anymore. Everything, including infant toys, seems to need batteries.  Most of them have to do something to entertain your children;  they come with buttons for sounds, movement or lights, even the old games have been revamped to be digital.  Sadie’s walker looks like the dashboard on the space shuttle.  Why is that? Have we become afraid to ask our children to use their imaginations and entertain themselves?  Granted I wouldn’t trust 3 year old Lilly alone in the bathroom with a roll of toilet paper, but I do believe she’s bright enough to figure out how to play with a doll that doesn’t speak, wet, burb and have a larger wardrobe than I do.

It Makes You Wonder

Today’s electronic toys and games makes me wonder….what are we really teaching our children?  And what do they really get out of their toys, what memories are they building?  Growing up I have great memories of my friends and I making daisy chains, wishing on dandelions, catching fireflies, camping in the backyard, riding our bikes, tadpole hunting, mudpie tea parties and having Horny Toad races. We were outside more than inside and since cell phones weren’t widely used yet if we wanted to find our friends we looked for the yard with the most bikes laying on it, and Mama had to yell our names and make physical threats to get us to come home.

It blows my mind that 6 year old Chloe has friends with cell phones.  Sure they have some cool game apps like dressing up a pony or taking care of a pet shop but I just can’t believe that it sparks the imagination like our treehouse pirate ship did for us.

What’s really different

I don’t know if the world is really a more dangerous place for children now than it was then, or if we’re just so better connected to the outside world that we hear the horror stories more than my parents did.  Growing up my world was Norman Oklahoma and what was going on in it, today the girls world is the world.  But still, is this parent generation more busy? Tired? Unplugged? Or too Plugged?  Has toy companies convinced us that we are depriving our children if their toys don’t have bells and whistles?  I don’t know, I can’t answer that. But it has changed.  Horny Toads are Endangered, neighbors spray against dandelions, and there is hand sanitizer gel, wipes and pump bottles everywhere.   We seem afraid of everything including what our children are missing out on if they don’t have the latest toys.

You’re Never Too Old To Play

But, here’s what I can tell you. I still play.  Lilly makes a wicked rock star with some wooden spoons and my best stainless steel pots and lids, and as lead singer, we’ve taken Twinkle Twinkle to a whole new level.   I know Chloe doesn’t look at a mud hole with horror and I’m not running unpronounceable germ names through my head when she dives in, cause I’m responsible for the rock sprinkles on the cupcakes and we take this seriously.  We make daisy chains, clubhouses out of big boxes and blow wishes out to take root.  We play hop scotch with chalk and a penny and 6 month old Sadie loves dried beans in an reused plastic spice jar.  Of course I don’t want them to be techno-illiterate, this is the age after all, but does it really hurt them to ask them to use their own ingenuity and imagination or am I teaching them to be grateful for what they have, the skill to be creative problem solvers, to appreciate their world and be responsible for it.  Am I teaching them to engineer their own fun and to build memories?  I really hope so, because to me that is more important than whether I provided them with the latest fad toy or gadget that becomes blase in 6 months.  My parents gave me the gift of allowing me to exercise my own imagination in a safe environment and I honestly think it taught me so much more than how to find tadpoles.

I can’t think of a better way to honor my Daddy on his birthday than to say, I have some wonderful memories of my childhood.  Thank you Daddy and Happy Birthday.

Happy Playtime!




  1. Reply


    June 1, 2016

    I am the same, I love playtime so much. I have so much guilt for working (and I don’t work as much as a lot of parents do) that we will spend hours just sitting in the garden or playing at the beach. We don’t need much, the treasure we collect is worth more than all the toys in the world.

    • Reply


      June 2, 2016

      You shouldn’t feel guilty for working! We all do what we need to do, both economically and for ourselves. I’ve always thought that one of the best gifts you can give your children is a parent who is happy and fulfilled because that spills out onto them. You are giving them quality time and memories. That is serious love, it tells them that they are a priority in your life and you find them just as fun and interesting.

  2. Reply


    May 31, 2016

    I agree with this so much, yet I type this as I look over at the kids’ play room which contains a TV, game console and mountains of toys. This summer I resolve to sending them outside to play for hours at a time, just like we did as kids.

    • Reply


      May 31, 2016

      It’s hard isn’t it? But the girls have a mountain as well from well meaning relatives that used to send us outside, lol. Enjoy your summer! And thank you for the comment!

  3. Reply


    April 13, 2016

    Love this one Chris.

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