Hayley Matthews: The unlikely antidote for kids' online obsession
I do love to support our charity shops, so when I was in one recently and found Monopoly Junior for Â£1, I was quite pleased with myself and it's been a great discovery for our six-year-old.
Let me tell you, he hasn’t touched his tablet for nearly three weeks. That’s like most of us going without caffeine!
Before the board game discovery, we would find he was almost getting addicted to devices and was asking for his tablet a lot.
However, since discovering the benefits of board games, it’s changed our life as a family. He’s always liked snakes and ladders but found the more complicated games a bit challenging. Now he’s a little older, he totally gets it and is super excited to win! It’s also a good way of doing some homework without them realising because, things like snakes and ladders, Monopoly or any board games where children have to subtract and add up in their head, is really beneficial for their developing brains. It’s also quite nice for us as a family to spend time together playing.
It may seem simple but all too often we’re too busy with chores to play. I’m guilty of putting the washing, hoovering and cleaning before family time but every parent can do this with their kids, even just half an hour of your time at night to sit with your children to play, I promise, will change your life.
I’ve also noticed how it teaches them to play well which, with me having an only child, we’ve struggled with recently. I always try and encourage my son to share, play fairly and follow the rules. However I think sharing is something an only child can struggle to comprehend at times.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still nice to sit and chill whilst watching a family movie, I’m not against that because, let’s face it, that’s just part of being a kid. However I think it can be too easy for us to just sit down after a busy day and zone out on the sofa instead of making an effort to play.
I have a child with copious and endless amounts of energy – I have no idea where it all comes from.
I wouldn’t have it any other way though, but it does mean we have to be very clever as parents to use this energy and channel it wisely.
I have to admit this is what I’ve found most challenging over the last few months and never thought I’d find the answer in board games. Now I’ve discovered the benefits of games I’ve also been looking at other things to do to channel this energy.
If your kids like building bricks and cars etc then the Strictly Briks base plates (which can have road markings on them and can be stacked) are a great way to use all your Lego and random toy cars. They have the feel of a board game but the kids make the rules. I also like old-fashioned draughts and tiddly-winks too.
However, it can all go the other way as my dad recently told me whilst reminiscing of his time in the fire brigade during the 70s.
He described to me how many a time when he was on a nightshift, they always had to have the Oxford dictionary to hand as arguments would often break out with the firefighters over the correct use of a word.
Scrabble would often end up in a big fight with the tiles being thrown up in the air and scattered across the shiny station floor! All over a game of Scrabble, eh?!