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How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis

Source: Skyhorse Publishing
Hardcover, 192 pgs.
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How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis is a great little collection of ideas for busy parents who want to keep their kids active, curious, and helpful around the house.  Building a fort in the living room or redecorating their own rooms can be activities that not only bring out their own creativity, but also can keep them occupied for an hour or more.  As a mom working from home, these activities will come in handy, though many of them I’ve already been doing, such as building a fort in the living room.  One of our other favorites is going shopping, where she gathers her things for the shopping trip, like bags and her purse and her babies, sets them up in the kitchen chairs (aka her car) and she drives them to the market, and while there she pushes them around in the cart and picks up various empty boxes of food that she needs for home.

“Kids don’t always want us on top of them telling them which screwdriver to use or how to throw a football.  Sometimes they just want to do and learn along the way on their own.  In most cases, kids get bored because they’ve tapped their shallow ‘idea’ reserve, and they simply require new input, new ideas…” (pg. 14)

Another section that’s helpful, beyond the one of indoor activities for those rainy days, is the one in which kids are set to work with household chores, but those chores are made into competitions, such as speed trials for sock matching.  Jervis also carefully reminds parents that they should offer an incentive, which in most cases should remain unnamed until the tasks are complete because if it’s something kids don’t want, they’re less likely to complete the task.  One of the best chapters was on getting kids into the kitchen, something my daughter does already.  I love the idea of having her plan a menu, though I think I might wait until her menu will consist of more than chicken nuggets and mac and cheese, which is what she suggests every time.

How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis is not just about creating a space in which you have free time to do work or other chores, it also is about allowing kids to explore within certain limits the household chores and fun around them without the mindless entertainment of screens.  These activities will help them learn to think outside the box, explore new ways of building, making, and being.  If there are more kids in the house than usual, they also can be great team-building activities.  There are indoor, outside, in the car, and elsewhere activities, and many of these can be combined into super-activities.

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    I think it’s a neat idea for some fresh ideas for parents looking for some new activities to try. I’m glad my daughter was a bit older before she got her hands on electronics because she enjoys them but she prefers other, more engaging activities.

  • Suko

    This book sounds like a winner for all! There are so many, too many “distractions” for people these days, starting with our children. We need to take the time to be “unplugged” and learn social skills (and other skills) away from our devices.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I think it’s kind of sad that there’s a need for books like that these days. Having said that, it sounds like the book could be useful!

    • I think its sad as well that parents have lost this ability themselves. It seems like they just pick the easy thing — sit those kids on the computer or in front of the TV