TV

9 things to do besides watch TV (or Facebook or Snapchat or...)

1. Ditch "Heroes" to become a real one: play matchmaker for an hour a day.

Take out a list of your contacts, see who's single and looking to get married and consider carefully if they'd make a match. Mutual friends are often the best conduits for bringing people together because they know both parties. Consider the incredible reward you will receive for bringing two people together to complete half of their faith instead of taking in another episode of Heroes.

2. Start Seerah Storytelling hour

At least once a week, take turns sharing one favorite story from the Seerah. Put it in your own words and make it as dramatic as possible, with gestures, maybe even costumes. When you run out, look up more stories to tell in your favorite book or online.

3. Write an old fashioned "heartfelt letter"

In his bestselling book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson encourages readers to write a heartfelt letter every week to express gratitude to someone who has changed your life for the better. It could be a parent, a former teacher, a sibling or friend. Spend an hour doing this instead of watching television once a week. You don't necessarily have to send it, but if you do, consider it a great way to strengthen relationships and revive those that may have fallen by the wayside.

4. Plan your summer vacation

Don't wait for the boredom to set in. Start planning and researching now on how to make the most of the outdoor weather. Don't just look up information about hotels and vacation spots though. Search for free or low-cost classes and activities in your city, like free days at museums or park district courses. Also, seek out ideas for fun activities at home or in the backyard when school's out.

5. Attend family story hour at the library

Many libraries organize story time for not just children but entire families as well, accompanied by other activities. Check out your local library's website or call to find out more about them and start attending to bond with the family in an educational and entertaining environment.

6. Devote TV time to a volunteer cause of your choice

Americans watch 250 billion hours of TV annually. Now imagine if just a million of those hours were spent volunteering to feed hungry families, grocery shop for the elderly who cannot do so for themselves or raise money to fund the research of various cancers, heart disease and diabetes? Not only would we be a more compassionate nation, we'd be a more productive and advanced one to boot.

7. Beef up that Islamic knowledge

There are today more resources than ever before to learn about Islam from home, whether it is great websites or well-written books and magazines. The problem is, many of us don't have (or is it that we don't make) the time to use them. Develop your own personal syllabus or find one you feel comfortable with, to build your knowledge at least once a week easily. Make sure that regular Quran reading is part of it.

8. "Date" your child

Spend individualized, focused time in or our outside the home with your child. You could simply go out for dinner, bake or clean out the garage together. Unlike television, these other activities don't allow you to zone out as you spend time with each other. During your "date", do the next idea.

9. Pass on your legacy in one hour

Morbid but deep thought: imagine you had only a couple of days to live. What would be the 10 most important things you would want to pass on to your child? What lessons have you learned? What regrets do you have that you don't want them to have at the end of their lives? As you spend time with your child share one nugget of this wisdom at each meeting, along with a relevant story from your life.

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