If you’re like most parents you probably wish you had more time to spend with your kids. You probably also think your kids spend too much time in front of screens. New research is showing that too much screen time can negatively affect a child’s brain and lead to addiction. It can also increase the chance that a child will develop nearsightedness. The solution - spend family time away from screens!
When the screens are turned off everyone is more engaged with the world around them and each other. If you want to spend some quality time with your kids away from screens, here are a few ideas to try.
Growing Green Thumbs Together
Working out in the yard may not seem like an activity that will pique a kid’s interest, but it’s actually a great way to get the whole family away from electronics. Being outdoors in nature has a calming effect on people that everyone enjoys. Kids are also more likely to have fun if they get to be a part of the landscaping decisions. Another benefit to sprucing up the yard and lawn is you’re more likely to spend more time outdoors after the projects are done. You may need to look online to find the right lawn seeds and supplies for your yard, but once they’re ordered you can take the fun outdoors. Come up with a plan as a family and give each person their own task. At the end of the day, you’ll have spent quality time together and accomplished something you can be proud of.
Swimming at the Pool
Even if you don’t have your own pool in the backyard there’s a good chance there’s a public pool nearby. Many planned communities have aquatic centers but there are also city pools and the YMCA. If you have a gym membership with a pool, the kids can tag along to swim some laps.
No matter how old your kids are, a trip to the swimming pool is one thing that will get them away from the screens. Unfortunately, smartphones are now water resistant, which means you’ll have to make sure teens don’t spend the whole lounging and texting.
Have a Picnic
Even if it’s crunch time at the office, you can take time out of your work schedule to spend time with the kids by extending your lunch by an hour and having a picnic.
It’s a great idea during the summertime when kids are off of school and spending more time than ever in front of screens.
The spot you choose for the picnic is just as important as the food. Look for a spot that’s:
Close to work or home if you’re on a tight timeline.
Has facilities like picnic tables, grills, and a restroom.
Additional activities you can enjoy after eating.
Take a Hike
As mentioned above, there are physical and mental benefits to being outdoors in nature. Studies have shown a short 30-minute walk out in nature is a calming experience that has immediate benefits like reducing blood pressure and depression.
Hiking a gentle trail is something the entire family can do even if you have a child under the age of two. It’s also an activity that you can turn into a weekly event.
Choose a new trail each week to make it an adventure your kids will look forward to on a regular basis.
Have a Family Game Night
Before gaming consoles, laptops, smartphones, and tablets took over, board games kept families entertained while satisfying the urge for a little friendly competition. If your kids are gamers challenge them to a family game night with classics like Monopoly, Clue, and Pictionary.
Build a Treehouse
This is a great family activity because it gives you a reason to get away from screens for an extended period. And once the treehouse is built, your kids are more likely to get outdoors and spend time in their new hangout instead of sitting in front of the TV. Just make sure the treehouse is structurally sound. Quality time with kids means giving them your full attention. That’s hard to do when everyone is looking at a different screen. Your kids may be a little resistant at first, but if you find activities that peak their interest it will teach them that can have just as much fun without electronics and you’ll make family memories.
Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.