INSIDE: Taking a break from that screen time is a great idea, and if you need help coming up with things to do to keep your kids busy and not missing their devices, here are 10 fun activities your children will love – with nary a screen in sight.
We all know it – kids are spending way too much time staring into their devices. Guidelines say children should only spend 1 to 2 hours a day maximum in front of screens, especially on weekdays, but in reality, that number is typically much higher.
The problem is, devices occupy our kids. It’s definitely the easiest way to keep them entertained when we are trying to get things done.
As a busy parent, I totally get it, and I’m as guilty of it as anyone. But what happens is that parents have become dependent on keeping their children occupied via screens, and then it becomes difficult to know what to have the kids do instead.
Have you ever had a free evening and been stuck on what to do? the more prepared you are, the less stress you have to endure to keep your kids occupied.
10 Anti-Electronic Ideas for Kids
Happy moms have lots of ideas up their sleeves. Here are 10 things your kids could do tonight instead of using their devices.
Play a Board Game
Kids these days don’t know the pleasure of a good old-fashioned board game. But a break from TikTok and Snapchat will do them good, so why not replace that time with a fun activity for the whole family?
You can opt for any of the classics – Snakes & Ladders, Risk, or of course, Monopoly. But you can also try out some more modern iterations of board games. The great thing about these is that you’ll find plenty for cheap in thrift stores or online, so you don’t need to break the family budget for family entertainment.
Board games are good because they teach kids structure and to follow the rules. You have to play nice, be fair, respect the rules, and cheaters don’t win.
Build a Fort
Is there a better, more fun, more classic children’s activity than building a fort in the living room? Sure, it kind of turns your home upside down, but it’s fun, it’s creative, it engages the kids in teamwork, it keeps them busy for hours, and more importantly, it keeps them off their phones.
The other major perk? It’s completely free. All you need to supply for hours of fun are pillows and blankets – they’ll take care of the rest. Expect them to commandeer your couch, chairs, tables, sheets – all in order to build the best fort and fill it up with all their books and toys. Yes, you’ll probably need to help them clean up afterwards, but it’s entirely worth it.
Tell Ghost Stories
What’s sadly lost on this generation is the art of telling scary stories around a campfire. Remember how much fun that was back in the day? You don’t have to go far, you can create the perfect campfire experience even in your own backyard.
All you need is a fire pit and a couple of tents and sleeping bags. Your little ones won’t know the difference. Be the first one to start – turn on your flashlight, direct it towards your face, and put on a scary voice; that’ll get everyone in the mood.
The only rule is that everyone’s stories need to be scary, but age-appropriate. You don’t want to overdo it, because then you have to deal with a terrified child on your hands.
Go to the Cinema
Yes, this is cheating a bit – the big screen is still a screen, but it doesn’t count. The advantage of going to see a movie with the whole family is that it’s a special experience for your little ones.
Plus, it’s actually easier, ironically, to find something appropriate to watch for a child. TV ratings can be confusing, and you have to spend so much time deciphering what’s appropriate to watch for what age.
Nowadays, there are plenty of films on the big screen especially made for kids, so there’s no difficulty in finding something appropriate for the whole family to enjoy, regardless of age. Whether it’s a new animation or a movie starring animals and children, you’re guaranteed to have a great time, no matter what you choose.
Make Ice Cream
“Mommy, mommy, I want ice cream!” – sound familiar? Well, instead of buying endless amounts of ice cream, why not make it? And better yet, why not engage your kids in the process? It’s much healthier, cheaper, and it’s really fun.
Remember that this is probably going to be a messy activity, so prepare to get the kids involved in clean-up, as well. Best yet, it’s not a difficult activity at all. You just need some milk, chocolate or fresh fruit, a mixer, and you can put it away in the freezer.
Wait for a few hours, and voila – your concoction will have magically turned into ice cream. It’s a much better trick than buying it from the supermarket, and your kids will have a sense of accomplishment.
Write & Draw a Story
An old stand-by is to exercise their creative muscle by having them write a story. It’s one of the best ways to not just keep them busy, but also to create something while they’re at it.
You can make it even more of a challenge by giving them a prompt or something they have to include in their story. For example, a certain line, a character, a word, a situation, etc.
One caveat: they have to write it or draw it on paper, no computers allowed. There’s something about writing on physical paper that stimulates creativity even more.
If your kid is artistically inclined, a good extra is to have them draw accompanying pictures. Or have one sibling write and the other one draw – that will teach them teamwork and coordination. And what parent doesn’t wish their kids would get along better and play nicely together?
Especially during warm summer evenings, there’s nothing better than taking some time to lay outside in the grass and look at the stars. Kids can use the time spent outdoors, and you can take this opportunity to teach them all about stars and constellations.
Treat it like an astronomy lesson at home – you can even teach them all the constellations beforehand and then have them identify them on the sky. It’s a really good exercise, and not to mention very relaxing.
If your own backyard doesn’t offer much in the way of clear skies, then driving a few miles outside the city should make it easier.
Put on a Play
There is no limit to children’s creativity, and this is the time to encourage it and put it to good use. Why not spend an evening asking them to put on a play for the family? That’s a great activity because it engages a lot of different aspects of their creativity.
They get to imagine a story and some different characters, write it, and then act it themselves for an audience. That encourages them to harness their creativity, and to improve skills like writing and performing.
In addition, creating a play makes them think about it, from the narrative to the characters or costumes – that’s active. Watching something on TV or YouTube is not the same, because it’s passive and requires no brain power or creativity.
The best indoor, no-device activity? Building LEGOs. Building blocks of all varieties enable children to create without any boundaries to their imagination. Do they want to build a castle? An igloo? A farm? A pirate ship? A police station?
No matter what they want, they can have it, and the best part is that they have to build it themselves. Follow instructions – or on the contrary, figure out a way to achieve what their vision dictates. Not all kids will become architects as a result, but they will all benefit from unleashing their creativity.
2016’s greatest hit, slime seems to make every child happy, no matter how old they are. Yes, it’s going to be messy, and yes, you will regret it as soon as you see the aftermath in your kitchen, but it’s such a fun, silly time, that you can’t say no.
You don’t need a lot of supplies, this just requires glue, saline solution, and some food coloring, to make it fun and appealing. If you really want to take it over the top, you can add glitter, but just a warning – you’ll still be finding glitter everywhere for months to come.
You’d think that in 2021, with access to so many toys, activities, and fun, entertaining kids would be a piece of cake. Well, that’s not quite true, because it turns out kids are only interested in one thing: their electronic devices.
Computers, phones, and tablets – oh my! They monopolize their time and attention to the point where it’s hard to pry them away.
Taking a break from that screen time is a great idea, and the tips above will help! Please comment below with what your kids enjoy doing when they unplug.