So here it is screen free week and I kicked it off by letting the kids watch TV while I cooked dinner. Ooops! In my defense we were screen free last week. No, I didn’t mix up my weeks. I just did not turn the TV on for a whole week. My kids also may be the only 4 1/2 year-olds without an iPad, iPod, iPhone or other digital device. The TV is their only screen.
As a mom working from home the TV is often the only helper I have while making business calls, trying to meet a deadline, or cooking dinner. So, instead of going screen free for a week, I just try to find a balance. We may spend an entire week in front of the TV, and then go weeks without it. I have only one hard and fast rule about TV: the television is turned off one hour before bedtime.
So, how do you find balance in a world driven by the almighty screen?
Here are 8 Ways to Entertain Your Kids Without A TV:
1. Get Outside. This one is pretty much the go-to activity when the screens go black, right? I know with my family if we start our day outside we are more likely to stay outside. The kids will request a picnic outside for lunch, they will ask to paint or set up the water table outside. We often hit up a park for a several hours, or join friends for a hike. If I have to drive to a location that means even less time to be inside near a TV.
2. Put On A Play. Get the whole family involved. Let the kids pick a story and put someone in charge of costumes and someone else in charge of props. My kids love to put on a show. Some nights we are princesses at a ball (picture Cinderella running through your living room falling out of her shoe), some nights we are pirates and some nights the kids just act out their favorite stories.
3. Go Out To Eat. Skip the chain restaurant where there are several giant TV’s hanging over your table. Instead, let the kids pick out your picnic menu, grab a blanket and select a location. Choose a new park, a play ground with picnic area, a favorite scenic spot or even your own back yard. You can enjoy the sounds of nature and each others conversation without having to shout over top of a sports cast.
4. Share Your Favorite Hobby. Why not share one of your passions with your kids? Maybe you love to craft, knit, fish, cook, garden or put together puzzles. Let them ask you questions about it and tell them why you love it. You might get them hooked on a new hobby of their own, or just let them see the person behind the parent.
5. Just Watch Them Play. If you’re kids are old enough let them loose in the back yard, or at a safe area of a local park. Sit down on a nearby bench and enjoy reading your own book, knitting a blanket, or crocheting a gift. Modeling how to relax and connect with your own interests will show your kids the importance of taking time for themselves too.
6. Practice Being Still. This is a hard concept for kids to master (and some of us adults). Sitting still and observing what’s around them helps kids see things from new perspectives, and see things they may miss while focused on a screen. Try introducing yoga, or cloud watching during the day, or staring at the stars at night. Even taking time to snuggle on the couch, or under a tree is a great way to slow down and connect with your kids.
7. Choose Your Own Adventure. Take a long (or a short) drive to a new town and go for a walk. Walk by the shops on Main Street, or stop in for a treat at a small mom and pop shop. Point out how different the buildings are from your own town. Help your kids notice the small things like fresh flowers growing in the window boxes, or the scent of the coffee wafting out of a store front.
8. Turn Off Your Own Devices. If you have a hard time limiting your own screen time, then your kids will have a hard time too. My kids have already said to me a few times, “mom can you stop looking at your phone?” I converted to a smart phone less than 10 months ago and already I can be too attached. (I just HAVE to know what readers think of my recent post!). To avoid the temptation of picking up my phone I keep it in another room, in my pocket book or just turn it off. “I’ll be on for just a minute,” can easily turn into just one hour of my time.
How do you find balance between the digital world and life in real time?