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Unplug and Spend Time Outdoors as a Family

This article was written by a civilian staff member at Headquarters Marine Corps.   

With all of the electronic devices in the house, it’s been challenging to get the kids to tell me how their day was at school, or what was on the lunch menu. It happens with my spouse as well.   

That little phone with all the gadgets is constantly on, displaying the latest in-home renovations, best deals at thrift stores and cute, adorable kittens and puppies 

Recently, I’d had enough! It was time for us as a family to do family things together and start talking. 

I announced at the dinner table that we would be walking to the park afterward. My son looked up at me and groaned (you know the look with the eyes rolling back and the pained expression? Yeah, that look!).   

Everyone started talking about homework and bill paying and “I gotta take out the trash, so I put my hand up and said that we would be gone for about 45 minutes, and we would just walk along the shortest trail so that everyone could come back and get their stuff done. 

I announced one rule to the walk: electronics stay at home except for one phone in case of emergencies. More groans followed THAT statement! 

Right after dinner, we went outside and started that walk. I could see the feet dragging and anticipated more complaints were on the way, so I quickly said, “I spy something orange. 

Everyone looked around but couldn’t discover what I had seen until we neared the corner of the park. Up ahead under the park sign was a flower bed full of cute violas bursting with color.  

My son asked me how I could have seen it from our house, but I just smiled and said “guess. This started some banter between everyone with some speculation that I had super-duper eyesight.   

I finally told them that although the park was a few minutes from home, I knew these flowers were there because I drove by them from work every day and that these were very special flowers to me because my grandmother’s name was Viola. I then talked about my memories of her, and the kids asked more questions as we walked around the short trail and on the way home. 

The next evening, we went to the park again, and as we walked, we listened to the birds and tried to interpret what they might be saying. This silliness had us laughing all the way home.   

A nightly walk to the park has become a routine for us. We are opening up conversations that are more difficult such as growing up, growing older, first kisses, and moving away to college 

The silliness still happens, but my family is now communicating as we should and are building a foundation of caring. We still have a long way to go to cut the electronics cord, but we’ll get there! 

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