I was beyond thrilled when I was invited to participate in the Childhood Unplugged photography collective. It’s a group of photographers I’m really humbled to be associated with. Once per month each of us shares one image showing what did we do with our kids to unplug. It’s all about letting go of technology and encouraging our kids to get back to the art of play.
We are fairly strict with screen time for the little ones. We don’t have a TV in our house (yep), but still… at times it’s so easy to just plop the kiddo in front of the computer, hit play on “Pikku Kakkonen” and have an hour (or three if kiddo knows how to operate da machine to find new episodes to watch) all to ourselves. I remember fairly clearly the moment we put super strict and uptight limits on screen time. I won’t share the (gory) details, because it’s just way too embarrassing :D But OK, it got to the point when Ingrid refused to eat at the table and wanted to eat all her meals while watching something. The worst days were the ones when she watched something in the morning. That was basically like like shooting my own foot, because after watching an hour worth of cartoons her brain turned into mush and she didn’t want to get out of the house or DO anything. Janet Lansbury explains this more eloquently here. So we went cold turkey. Cartoons once per week, on a Saturday. And even that is limited to two hours or so. It was hell at the beginning, I can tell you that. But it was worth it. Sure enough, we do slip sometimes- sickness, travel, that kinda stuff. But in principle, it’s just that one session per week. It constantly forces us both to be better parents. We try to find things to do together, encourage participating in housework, do outdoorsy stuff. Or let her be bored and figure out something to do. But it’s hard. Really hard sometimes. And somehow we still didn’t get any medals of recognition… Weird, eh?
Below are pictures from one of our mini-adventures- a trip to Lastenkaupunki (Childern’s Town) in the Helsinki City Museum. Honestly, it must be one of the greatest places to visit with kids in Helsinki. The ground floor is dedicated to Helsinki in 18th century, complete with shoemaker’s workshop, wig-maker’s shop, ship loaded with spice cargo, horse-carriage and a store. Best part? Kids can touch and move everything they want. It’s very un-museum like :D One of the rooms features a puppet theater- complete with a stage, curtains and a huge basket of puppets. Next to that is a dress-up room- two wardrobes chock full of costumes in kids’ sizes. After we all put some funky costumes on Ingrid decided we should play in the store. So she was dressed up as a bee, selling sausages, fish and pretzels. The second floor was more museum-like- very nice display of doll houses (some were possible to play with), a classroom and “Mummola” (Grandma’s place)- apartment with decor straight from 70s.
We all absolutely loved this place and will definitely be back. Oh, it’s free. Always.
I scribbled down one of the exhibition notes, it fits so well with the theme of “unplugged”: “Formerly, social status and gender defined a child’s life. On the other hand, infant mortality was high in all classes. Only after gaining independence did the social differences in Finland stabilise little by little. In addition, health conditions improved and equality and free tine increased. For a long time, parents were the undisputed authority, and children had to obey and respect them. Independent of social class, children had to get used to working. A child of a working-class home had to start real work early on, whereas the offspring of wealthy families got a better education and were encouraged to take up hobbies. Furthermore, children have always had a social culture, games and hobbies of their own. However, the communality of the olden days is fading away and yard games are disappearing. The ways practicing hobbies and spending free time have changed.”
To see which image I chose to be featured for this month’s edition of Childhood Unlplugged, head here. Also, check out Childhood Unplugged on facebook and play along on Instagram by tagging your unplugged moments with #childhoodunplugged.