Want to know the number one form of entertainment for my kids over the past week?
Cranking the manual windows up and down in our rental car.
Due to an unfortunate encounter with a Toyota Camry, my little VW bug is in the shop, and we're driving a Kia. Because the insurance company is footing the bill, the car comes sans bells and whistles. As in, it has an engine and four doors, and that's about it. Nothing wrong with that — I'm ecstatic to have an alternate form of transportation that doesn't involve my feet!
The kids — age 11, 9, and 5 — were thrilled with the retro aspect of our new ride. Up and down those windows went. I tempered my growing annoyance with the 40 degree winds coursing through the car by the thought that at least they were getting a good bicep workout — and they weren't fighting for once.
As they rolled up and down and I drove up and down, I realized that if my kids were getting that much fun from just raising and lowering the windows, imagine how entertained they'd be from, say, raking leaves the old-fashioned way instead of watching the lawn guys manipulate their leaf blowers!
And then THAT got me thinking...why am I paying ridiculous amounts of money for high-tech games and gadgetry, when apparently what was boring and drudgery in my childhood is now hip and fun? So, here it is — the top five list of activities you can convince your kids are better than a Wii game (or at least can be played when you run out of batteries for the Wii remote):
1. Vacuum Challenge
With a movement similar to that required in the popular Wii Bowling game, Vacuum Challenge participants will compete to see who can clean the living room rug most thoroughly, in the least amount of time. Points deducted for Lego pieces sucked up during the event. Sponsored by Dyson!
2. "Wax on, Wax off" Karate Kid Challenge
Participants will emulate the Ralph Macchio character in Karate Kid by actually putting wax on and off a real, live automobile! Only the best competitors will get to move on to the bonus round: Cleaning the floor mats. Sponsored by Turtle Wax!
3. Dig Dug Challenge
Reenact your favorite vintage arcade game — for real! Instead of digging fake holes on the screen, shovel real live snow off walkways! Race your sibling or friend to see who can make it to the driveway first. But watch out — giant boulders and Mom's tulip bulbs are just waiting to trip you up. Sponsored by Toro!
4. Wood Chopping Challenge
Want to get your muscles in Wii Baseball shape? Chop a cord or two of wood! Not only will you build biceps and tricepts, you'll also be stocking the woodpile for Mom and Dad. Careful, though — you'll be rated on safety and precision. Sponsored by the National Lumberman's Association.
5. Cooking Kids Challenge
Forget Wii's Cooking Mama — Let's see Cooking Kids! Take over the real family kitchen and prepare a healthy, palate-pleasing dinner for five in under 30 minutes, for less than $10. Beware of the “Witching Hour” hazards from 5 to 6 PM as little ones clamor at your feet for attention and demand assistance with their homework. Bonus points awarded for coupon usage. Sponsored by Betty Crocker.
When I write these up, these Challenges actually sound kind of fun! I'll have to see if they work on my kids. I'll know I've got a winner if I find my kids sneaking downstairs after their bedtime in order to vacuum the floors. But if they don't fall for it, I've got a solution; I'll tell them if they don't do their chores, I won't let them roll the windows up and down anymore. That should do the trick.