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Create a Sunny Day Rule

Here's how to make your house a TV-free zone and get the kids outdoors.
Updated: December 1, 2022

Create a Sunny Day Rule

It's the Monday after the Fourth of July. I'm up early. Birds aresinging. The dawn sun is blazing. It's going to be a sunny, summer day.A summer day in the truest sense, because my three boys are home from school.No buses to catch, no daypacks filled with books. They can sleep untilthey wake up.

Chris, my youngest, will wake first, trundle downstairs in his boxershorts, pee, and scratch himself, wondering what to do in the quiet house.His first instinct will be to go to the family room and turn on the TV.

But there it will be: Daddy's homemade sign, taped to the set.

No TV today.
Sunny Day Rule.

He'll grumble and look around. And for a few minutes, he won't know whatto do with himself. But then he'll either pick up a toy, grab a book, ordress himself and think about calling friends to play.

I established the Sunny Day Rule early in my children's lives. And eventhough it causes dissension and complaining at first, I'm serious aboutit. If it's raining and cold outside, they know I'm no Captain Bligh.I'll let them watch TV. But if it's a beautiful day, there's no excuse forgrowing roots on the sofas. Outside with you, I tell them. Go! Go buildsomething! Go swimming! Go ride your bikes!

Better yet, go make yourself breakfast.

Ever heard of myelin? Myelin is a gel-like substance that grows alongbrain cells when learning takes place. Imagine dipping a fishing net injelly.That's how a memory for life, or better yet, call it a mastery, appears inthe neural networks of our brains. That's how something a child haslearned to do, or experienced, is stored.

Children's brains contain 10,000 miles of neural network for every cubicinch of cortex. That's a lot of potential real estate in which to installknowledge. So, at least in our house, we invoke the Sunny Day Rule forsummertime because our children's chances of myelinating fresh neural netssoars every time we put that sign on the TV. There's so much incrediblepotential there. No sense having it flicker at some dim level for hours onend, while the sun shines bright outside.

But what will I think up for my child to do, you ask? That's the wholepoint. Don't bother thinking up anything. Let your child do it. Inthis case, doing less is really doing a whole lot more.

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