I’ve been noticing lately how much time my child spends either asking to watch a movie/Netflix, or actually watching a movie/Netflix. You want to know what I found out? Here’s a hint…it’s more than I would said if you had asked a few weeks ago.
How much more?? A LOT! (Today a drawer got stuck and she asked if it had run out of batteries. )
I’ve been working on writing, crafting, sewing, and so forth…and time slips away from me. Which is not excuse, I agree. When I tell her she can watch ONE EPISODE I need to pay attention and turn it off as soon as the credits roll. Sometimes, even when I’ve been sitting with her for the entire show, I don’t even realize that the episode has tolled over into the next. My focus isn’t just split, it’s almost completely gone.
The bottom line is, I need to do a better job. I watch where she’s at and make sure she isn’t playing near or with anything that could injure her. Now I need to make sure she isn’t just on the television all the time. In order to do that, I need to set a better example.
I’m rarely watching shows at the moment. Usually when I watch a show, I’m crafting or writing at the same time. It’s background for me, and often includes an element that I’m writing about. But she’s just almost 3 and, while whip-smart and gorgeous (she takes after he mother!), she isn’t mature enough (at all) to understand that Mommy’s job is to be on technology, but hers it to play.
How do I fix that? Well, Mommy’s job is to write and to craft and to PLAY WITH HER MONKEY! All things I can do without the computer or the television.
I thought there might be another parent or two (or auntie, uncle, grandparent, etc) out there that could be struggling with this same issue. No matter the child’s age, you can find non-tech things to do with them. In that spirit, here is a list of things to do with your children that does not involve staring at technology.
Quick Note: Please don’t be afraid! I promise that public places, sunlight, fresh air, real honest to goodness hold in your hands physical toys and books, glue, glitter, paper, etc are all fairly safe for your family. In fact, before the past 20 or so years happened, they were ALL THE RAGE for hundreds of years!
Screen Free Activities:
1) Pull out that old CD player (or if you’re lucky enough, tape/8-track/vinyl record player), blow the dust off the old cases, and have a ‘retro’ dance party! Kids from 0-Adult will pretend to be disgusted and embarrassed, and then will begin to emulate your moves.
2) Play dress up! Get out your old clothes, silly party favor wiggly headbands, etc. and dress up. OR Pick out outfits for each other and then have a fashion show.
3) Take the kid(s) thrift shopping, downtown to the cute local stores shopping, or to some other area of shops you have either always wanted to check out or have enjoyed without the little whirlwinds. Make sure its not a china shop, and go for it! Thrift shops are a great source for dress up items and cool painting projects! Combine #1-3 for an EPIC DAY that will have everyone forgetting their lack of screens.
4) Find nearby museums, petting zoos, kid zones, etc. There are more than you think and they often go unnoticed in our day to day existences. Search them out, drag the kids, and watch the fun happen. They won’t even realize they learned something in the process.
5) Art projects: This can be as simple as grabbing a few large sheets of paper, several colors of whatever drawing utensil you prefer (i.e. crayon, colored pencil, marker, finger paints), and the kids. Lay out on the floor, and CREATE! Add glitter, cut and paste objects, etc to create something unique and special. Then either frame them or just tape them up in a display area. Make a habit of it, change the artwork out, and save what you take down to either make a memory book from, or have screen printed on material for quilts etc. Or just, you know, use material to begin with.
6) Purchase plain material, fabric markers or paints, and embellishments. Have everyone take a piece or a section of the material, and let them decorate! The material can then be made into whatever you want it to be.
7) Story Time: Make up stories, write stories, read your books. Take a huge bag of books, some water bottles, a few apples (or snacks), and a big blanket. Sit outside and read together. Read to each other, read to the wind, read to yourselves, but read together.
8) Make a blanket fort. read in there. Play board games in the fort. Sleep in the fort.
9) WATER BALLOON FIGHT!!!!!!! (’nuff said)
10) I don’t care how old the kids are…go play at the park. Seriously, Go. Now. Play. SLIDE
11) Go to the Lake. Build a fire. Eat S’mores. Crack Jokes. Sing Songs. LIVE
12) Learn how to turn a cartwheel. Think you still know how? Try. Now raise your hand if your kid needs to re-teach you when they can stop laughing and breath again.
13) Cook together. I know, I know. I can hear the toddler moms and the parents of teenage boys all lamenting about messes and knives. Here’s the deal…if I pick up after her, my Monkey forgets that she needs to pick up after herself pretty quickly. But the days I make her help me clean, she loves playing the cleaning games and she remembers how to put things away for a while afterwards. And the mixing, measuring, spooning, baking parts of how the mess got made? “Forget about it!” She created a baking song that she now sings when in her play kitchen. It goes something like “Mix, mix, mix, mix, OH I’M SO HAPPY! MOMMY AND ME MIX MIX BECAUSE I’M SO HAPPY! Mix, mix, mix, mix, mix, mix” (she also begged until someone got her one of those little miniature wire whisks. She has to be able to mix in her mini-bowls you know!) Go, cook with them, teach them, learn from them. Make your own pizza and put down that take-out menu!
There are hundreds of ideas out there for things to do without using screens. I’m not saying you can’t ever watch anything again. Please, I’m on the computer, looking at the screen while I type this! Just watch what you’re doing, see how many hours you are ok’ing for your family. Make sure they (and you) know what the most important things are in life. Because I promise you, the screen can be replaced if it breaks. It’s probably going to be a lot more difficult to replace the bridges we burned while everyone concentrated on the smart phone, tablet, laptop, and television instead of on their family.
May your life be blessed and full of love. May your inspiration never run dry, and your bridges stay firm.
I look forward to hearing from you all!