Check, mate, chess 

It's the weekend and on weekends (once we're done with karate), we try to take it easy. We don't do too many activities, other than go for a walk after lunch, and we generally let the kids roam more or less free. Because it's important, we think, to let them figure out ways to occupy their minds without getting in trouble.

There are a few rules, mind you. We don't allow video games, because I really don't like the effect those games have on my kids' brains. Not that there aren't good games out there, but we mostly tend to stay away from them anyway. Most of their friends at the dojo get to play games on their parents' phones or their own devices, so my kids get to play with them there. But at home, nope. The kids' laptops are used to write stories and look things up.

We also don't have TV, because usually what's on TV is pretty stupid. But we do have Netflix and a pretty good movie collection (plus what we get from the library), and the girls get to watch movies in the afternoon if they wish. Not TV episodes, mind you. Real feature-length movies that have character development and plots and so on. We also make them watch films that are part of the canon of historical moviemaking. That's a fancy-pants way of saying we compel them to watch the classics. This weekend, for instance, it was Murder on the Orient-Express. They are surprisingly receptive to these old films, even the black-and-white ones.

We also try to find time to play old-fashioned games. We taught them a few basic card games at the cottage this summer (Go Fish, cribbage), we also like to play Trivial Pursuit. We also play "clean up the yard" once in a while and that's fine, too. But lately the younger two have asked their dad (who is a pretty darn good player) to teach them how to play chess. Delighted he was, too. Out came the beginner's book on it and a few rudimentary lessons. Then we abandoned the kids to their fate and they managed to keep themselves amused for a few hours. I'm not sure they respected all the rules of the game, but they'll get to that later.

It's all part of growing up without constantly staring at a screen. I highly recommend it.

To track or not to track

The fatigue of a job well done