When your littles ones have free weekends and days off school, it can be tempting to sit them in front of the television with their favourite movie on, with the hope of some peace and quiet in the house. However, while technology can be extremely useful for both educating and entertaining your kids at times, it is important to find other ways to fill their hours than being glued to a screen constantly.
Sometimes it seems as though kids get bored every two minutes, and it becomes incredibly difficult to think of ways to keep them occupied. Here is a list of ideas to get you started, when thinking of activities for your kids that don’t involve a TV, smartphone or gadget of any kind.
1) Ignite Their Artsy Side
One activity that involves no technology whatsoever is arts and craft, from painting to drawing to colouring. You can print out pictures for you kids to colour, or just let them create whatever they please. This not only gets your child’s attention on something other than a square box, but also allows them to unleash their creativity, which can have numerous benefits including improved performance at school and increased confidence! Who knows, you might even have a budding Picasso on your hands!
2) Turn Pages Instead Of Touching A Screen
Today’s generation of kids have grown up with kindles, ipads, tablets and audio books. However, it is important not to forget to show your children the joy of actually holding a book, and physically turning the pages instead of swiping across a screen. Reading is well regarded as a beneficial activity for little ones, to help them relax, expand their imagination and improve their language skills all at once!
3) Drop Everything And Get Outside!
Kids nowadays waste so many days of pleasant weather sitting indoors watching screens! Bringing your kids for a play session outdoors is the perfect way to get them to soak up some vitamin D and incorporate exercise into their day simultaneously. Examples of activities you can do outside include playing catch, cloud-watching (or stargazing if it’s night time) or playing at the park.
4) Discover Your Child’s Inner Einstein
One unique idea to amuse your kids for an afternoon is to put together simple science experiments that they can try out. This leads to a few hours of fun and an educational experience all in one! Ben Newsome, from Fizzics Education, elaborates on this:
“Nothing grabs kids attention like a science experiment! A quick trip to local shops can have kids busy for hours using simple household ingredients - a fantastic way to get involved with your child's learning and perhaps get a little messy! Fizzics Education have over 100 free science experiment ideas that can get you started.”
5) Choose Writing Over Typing
Rather than texting, typing or gaming using technological devices, why not introduce your little ones to the oldschool form of communication: Snail Mail! Try and find your child a pen pal of a similar age from a different country, so that they can learn more about another culture, make a new friend and improve their writing skills all in one. Alternatively, have them write to a relative or family friend, who will undoubtedly be ecstatic to hear from them!
6) Techno-Free Family Fun!
If you’re looking for activities to fill a weekend afternoon, get the whole family together and head to a nearby park for a picnic. In fact, leave your phones and gadgets at home so you won’t be distracted by work or online entertainment. This is the perfect way to catch some sunshine, and have good conversation while you enjoy a meal undisturbed by technology. If you are hoping for some time to chat to the adults in your family, pick a park that has a good playground area, so your little ones will stay easily amused for a while!
7) Bring The Playground To You!
One alternative to heading out to a playground, is to set one up in your very own home. Heavenly Hammocks has products that you can add to your collection of at-home play equipment, which your kids are bound to love using:
“Our swings, in particular, are popular outdoor kids activities. Set up a playground in your own backyard, with a large nest swing hung from a tree or play set. These swings get lots of attention from the kids, often daily, and they’re even great to play with friends.”
Find out more about this line of products on Facebook, to keep your kids occupied for hours without screentime.
8) Pet Play!
From dogs to cats to guinea pigs, household pets often don’t get the attention they deserve! So the next time your child asks for their favourite video to be put on, why not suggest they have a play with the family pet (if you have one!) From walking the dog as a family to getting the kids to help clean out their rabbit’s cage, these activities are both practical and completely technology-free! If you don’t have a family pet, maybe consider getting a small animal that is easy to look after, such as a hamster or some fish, to foster your kids’ nurturing side and get them to put down the phone.
Use the weekends and after-school time, to amp up your children’s social life. Whether it’s old friends from playgroup or kindy that they don’t get to see as often anymore, or their besties from class, playdates are always a good time! When little ones are in the throws of playing hide-and-seek, building forts and having a ball with their friends, the last thing they will be thinking about is the latest app on the iPhone.
10) Get Gardening!
Get your kids out in the open, and let their hands get a bit dirty by doing some gardening! It’s perfect for any season of the year; in summer it gets them outside, and in winter it brings the outside in. It’s especially great for kinesthetic learners, as gardening is a hands-on activity. Not only does it give those who are notoriously active (including kids with ADHD) something to do, it’s also a great way to keep your kids physically fit. Gardening is a great way to bring the family together for a few hours, keep the kid’s vitamin D levels up, and giving them the lesson of responsibility and nurturing, ‘Gardening brings value to the the world beyond the child himself. Flowers bring beauty, and fruits and vegetables nourish the whole family”, says Elisabeth Stitt from Joyful Parenting Coaching. Gardening is a fantastic way to keep your kids occupied, with the added benefit of teaching them about nature, keeping them healthy and away from screens! It’s a win-win!