Ahhhhh, summer. It’s just around the corner and with it comes slow, lazy mornings, unhurried schedules, and fun, sun-filled family outings. But it also brings hundreds of free, unscheduled hours, and no sooner do some kids come home shouting, “I’m FREEEEEEEE!!!!” at the end of the school year than they’re also complaining of excruciating boredom.
And when that happens, where do most of them turn? To TV. Video games. YouTube. To combat their dependence on electronics this season, I’ve got a few tips.
Here are some ideas on how to get your kids off their screens and into the outdoors (or just playing with the large amount of toys they probably already have) this summer.
8 Ways To Get The Kids To Put Down The Screens This Summer!
1. The One-Week Technology “Fast”
Using electronics to rectify boredom is a habit, and bad habits need to be broken. Going cold-turkey is usually the most effective way to do this, and will quickly force your children to identify other ways to entertain themselves. For one week, eliminate all TV, internet, and video games. You might get some grumbling at first, but they’ll quickly get accustomed to the new normal.
2. Set Clear Rules
Make sure you have clear rules about when, what types, and how much screen time you will allow your children to consume throughout the summer. Recommended screen time limits are considerably lower than most of us permit our children to enjoy, so scale back to a healthy limit – and stick to your guns in enforcing it!
3. Make A Summer Activities List
Have your child make a list of everyday things they can do when they’re bored. Include activities such as: play in the sandbox, go for a bike ride, play basketball, color the driveway with chalk, etc. When they start complaining that they have nothing to do, have them consult the list to decide on a way to entertain themselves.
4. Create A Summer Bucket List
Sit down with your child and write all the fun outings and activities you’d like to tackle as a family this summer. Include ideas like:
♦ going on a hike
♦ day trip to the beach
♦ check out a new splash park
♦ go camping to a new destination
Since these are larger-scale activities, it’s up to you to plan them at regular intervals throughout the summer.
5. Make Sure Your Outdoor Area Is Enticing
If your sandbox is still lacking sand from the winter months, or the knee-length grass in the backyard is littered with broken toys and remnants of home improvement projects, your kids are going to balk at heading out there to spend their summer season. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but make the area attractive for playing.
Cut the grass, tidy the yard, and make sure you have a few fun outdoor toys to beckon them into your backyard.
6. Visit The Dollar Store For Fun, Small Toys
It’s absolutely amazing the mileage you can get out of a few well-spent dollars at the dollar store. Squirt guns, sand buckets & shovels, and bubbles will keep your kids entertained – and outside – for hours on end.
7. Come To Terms With Your Own Comfort Level
Remember, if your kids are playing outdoors you have to approach it one of two ways. One, you have to be out there with them for supervision. Or, two, you have to be comfortable with your children out of your constant line of sight. If you choose the former, you need to be committed to the time and scheduling flexibility that will allow your children hours of outdoor time – and you, too.
If you choose the latter, you either need to make sure your backyard is safe for independent play, or that you trust your children to play by themselves with their friends around the neighborhood. It won’t do much good if your children ask to play outside but you decline their request because you’re either too busy or too fearful.
8. Sometimes It’s OK To Be Bored
While parents may feel guilty when hearing their children complain about how bored they are, it is important to remember that boredom is not always such a bad thing. New research has surfaced showing that boredom is actually healthy, and it’s a part of the normal childhood development process that will teach them how their how to manage and fill their time efficiently.
It also helps motivate them and teaches them to become more self-reliant. So when your child starts having withdrawals from their screens and whining about it to you, resist the urge to plop them down in front of the television. Rather, encourage them to figure it out for themselves, and more often than not, they will.
To Sum It Up
Summer can be an amazing time of fun and exploration, but in order for it to live up to its potential, we’ve got to get our kids off the couch and away from their screens. A little commitment from you (the parent), along with some simple planning and preparation, will go a long way to get our kids outside this summer season – and help them to make some memories that will last way longer than their memories of that latest YouTube video.
Jenny is just another mom trying to do her best. She loves trying to find new ways to get her kids off of the screens and outside of the house. She also enjoys blogging about her struggles and triumphs with breastfeeding, breast pumping tips, parenting hacks & more on Mom Loves Best. You can also find her on Pinterest.