Ahhhhh, summertime! That magical season of slow, lazy mornings, unhurried schedules, and memorable family outings in the sun. But with all that free time, our kids are at risk of becoming too dependent on electronics.
So how can parents help their children break the habit of turning to TV, video games, and YouTube for entertainment?
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”
Going cold-turkey is usually the most effective way to break this kind of bad habit and help your kids find other ways to amuse themselves.
Eliminate all TV, internet, and video games for an entire week.
This will be hard at first, but they’ll soon adjust to their new entertainment-free lifestyle.
If you don’t want to go all the way, you can let them watch some educational shows like those about nature, the universe, and science.
The technology fast will also be dependent on the age of your children. It should be relatively easy for children under the age of 6, however, if you are trying this with older children it will take more dedication!
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.
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 perhaps have a few fun outdoor toys available that will draw them outside.
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.
As parents of young children, striking a balance between safety and outdoor play can be tricky.
You can either be out there with them for supervision, or feel comfortable enough to let them be out of your line of sight.
If you choose the former, you’ll need to commit to the time and scheduling flexibility to give your children ample hours of outdoor time—and you get to join in the fun!
Or, if you prefer the latter, you can make your backyard safe for independent play or trust your children to wander their neighborhood and play with friends.
No matter which you choose, refusing your children’s requests to spend time outside due to scheduling or fear won’t do much good.
8. Sometimes It’s OK To Be Bored
As parents, it’s natural to feel guilty when your children claim to be bored – but it’s important to remember that boredom can be healthy and a normal part of childhood development.
Recent research has revealed that boredom can motivate children to become more self-reliant, manage their time, and even discover creative problem-solving skills. Rather than plopping your child down in front of the TV, resist the urge and encourage them to fill the time themselves.
You may be surprised at the innovative solutions they come up with!
To Sum It Up
Summer can be the perfect time for kids to explore the outdoors, get off their screens, and experience fun and adventure.
With a bit of effort and planning from parents, this season offers the opportunity for memories that will last a lifetime.
So let’s break the cycle of couch-sitting – take the kids outside and show them the world!
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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.