With summer comes a lot of extra down time that can be filled with lots of fun outdoor activities and new adventures. If we are not careful, however, this extra time can be filled with screens. Even though we are loosening up on screen time a bit this summer, I certainly do not want it to override summertime adventuring. If you are like me and still want to keep screen time at bay here are 7 clever ways to limit screen time this summer-or anytime. These suggestions are great all year round.
Schedule screen time
Setting clear expectations for screen time can really help. When kids know exactly when screens are available to them, they stop asking and know they must find other ways to spend their time. In order for this to be the most effective, you really have to stick to it. In our house we have a window of 4:30 to 5:30 everyday when screen time may happen. If we are out and about and are not home, then we miss it for that day. This has been a real sanity saver for me-the expectation is clear and my kids no longer bug me about getting on a device.
Leave the devices at home
Out of sight, out of mind! It can be tempting to fill car rides, grocery store visits, and waiting rooms with screen time. I get it, it keeps kids quiet. But, letting them have to entertain themselves with their own thoughts, a book or family conversation can be super beneficial. Children need time to just sit and take in the world around them without being entertained. If your kids are used to having screens often it may be hard to go cold turkey–choose a few times a week when the devices stay home and see what happens!
Start a family journal
A family journal can be constructive (and super fun!) for everyone in the family. Kids and parents alike can record their daily happenings, interview each other, practice writing skills take it along on a nature hike, doodle, collect artifacts or simply record happenings at the end of the day. We’ve just started ours and I am excited to begin! I purchased an 8 by 10 sketch book with fairly hefty pages to accommodate paints and markers. We will take turns and have it available when the mood strikes! Follow me on Instagram @heyfuzzymama to see our progress and get some ideas.
Give your kids an allowance for books
I’d rather have my kids reading than be on devices any ol’ day. I make sure we have lots of books available from the library, but I also give my kids an allowance for books. We started super low budget with $5.00 a month because we have some great second hand book stores near us. I (mostly) let them choose what they want– keeping it age appropriate. They are really discriminating when they are spending their own money – a a good lesson on so many levels.
Start a tinker space
If you want kids to be off devices, you will have to entice them with other things. Having materials available to them to explore–whether it be art or science-or both, is a great way for them build their creativity and problem solving skills. Set out a few art supplies in a caddy or invest is some stem supplies like these or these. Check out Pinterest boards for easy stem ideas and definitely check my sidebar to download my free guide with loads of ideas on setting up your own tinker space.
Learn a new hobby
Summer is a great time to pursue a new interest or hobby. Buy a yo-yo. Check out a book from the library on juggling or knitting for kids. There on so many online courses(yes, a screen, but it’s not at all the same as mind-numbing video games) for kids–check out Jam and Creativebug. You can also prescreen Youtube videos that help teach a certain skill. I love this one on yo-yo tricks and this one on making pumpkin muffins. My kids will be improving their “typing” skills with Keyboarding Without Tears, as well.
Keep a family puzzle set up at all times
Setting up a family puzzle can be a great way to bring people together. Lots of fun conversations can be had when searching for that right piece of the puzzle. I loved doing puzzles as a kid and have tried to start the tradition with my own family. Puzzles are super for improving spatial awareness, problem solving skills, and building attention spans! Make sure you choose a puzzle that can be worked on by all(or most!)of your family. Find a central location where you can keep a puzzle set up and see who it attracts. You may have to spend some time their yourself to get the ball rolling. You just might start a wonderful new tradition.
I realize that there are so many great things about screens-but, I also know that kids can be addicted very quickly to the not so great options of screen time. As a parent, I want my kids to be using screens to enhance reality instead of escape from it. Summer has so many great opportunities to be in tune with the world around them-I would hate for them to miss out on those wonderful adventures!