If you read my recent post about why we limit screen time for our kids, you know I promised you some tips for how to stop utilizing screens, and what to do instead! Keep reading see some alternate activities to screen time!
Alternate Activities to Screen Time
Disclaimer: the best alternative to television and screens in general is time outdoors. Hands down! Time outside is the best thing for children! But I created this post for moms/caregivers who need alternatives to screen time… specifically when indoors.
All of these activities are indoor activities that are appropriate to use during the time you’d be using a screen. AKA, when it’s time to make dinner and you’d usually put on a show… try this instead! It takes a bit of training for both of you. Dinner-making may go slower the first week or so (you’ll have lots of interruptions while your kids learn to entertain themselves without TV) but as time goes on, you’ll find the screen time really wasn’t necessary!
01. Kinetic Sand Tub and/or Play Dough Tub
This is my favorite messy/non-messy activity for my kids. It’s like play dough but better. I give my kids little objects to bury and play with in the sand on a towel near my feet while I cook and it keep their attention for a good half hour!
I also have a wonderful home made play dough recipe I plan to share asap. I keep it and some play dough tools in my kitchen and pull it out around three times a week!
02. Busy Bags (or tubs)
This is the oldest trick in the teacher book. It’s one that every parent should learn too! Don’t set all your toys out for your kids to see in plain view. Keep a few tubs of age appropriate toys/activities/objects aside and only get them out for a set time of day (the time you’d usually use a screen).
03. Make an Art Cart
An art cart is essentially a cart full of art supplies for your children to grab as they please to being creating something. (See this post for ideas on what an art cart is.)
04. Train Your Children to “Read” Independently
This sounds intense. It’s not. When I say “read” I really mean, look intently at the pictures. Babies and toddlers are fascinated by looking at pictures!
My 1.5 year old sits in my bathroom while I shower with a bin of books and looks at them for fifteen minutes straight while I wash my hair. This didn’t happen automatically, however. It took training! At first I had to take really quick showers because she’d be done after looking at one book. I set out some books and toys I knew she liked so she would move on to the toys. Then eventually I took the toys away and just set out books. Over time, I’ve slowly increased the amount of time I can take in the shower, and she’s happy by the end of it. I always make sure they’re familiar books too.
We keep a basket of books in every room in our house. This is not an exaggeration. My four-year-old has been known to go sit on our couch when she’s bored and pick up a book and start reading the pictures to herself. She does this at least once a day during “down” time. I can write about how to train your child to do this too. Let me know if you want me to!
05. Gross Motor Activities Safe for Indoor Play
Activities like balloon toss (literally blowing up a balloon and saying, “have at it!”) and indoor hopscotch with some painter’s tape on the floor are my lifesavers. I’ve also been know to tape a line on the floor and say “try to hop on this line without falling off” and then having my 4 year old try to walk backwards, or walk the line on one foot… the possibilities are endless!
Building a fort for reading is another fun and safe activity that can be done in the living room with some blankets and a couple of chairs. My kids do this and we even have a cute tee pee for them to play in. They choose the homemade fort. They sit in there and look at books while I cook.
Baby Specific Ideas
If you’re like me and have a kid under two, here are some of my favorite ways to keep her occupied for a short time. (Remember, they’re little, and there’s a reason they need your attention so frequently at this age. Be gentle with them!)
01. Water Wow Pads
02. Crayons and a “journal” if they’re old enough to keep them out of their mouths.
03. Letter Magnets
04. A tub of random household objects.
(Empty spice jars, spoons, pots, bowls, etc.) My girls love kitchen household items and feel so special when they get to play with them. I didn’t buy toys for my second baby, ha!
Interested in learning more about how to use technology in your home? I really loved this book: The Tech-Wise Family.
I hope this post about alternate activities to screen time was helpful to you! Thank you so much for reading!