School’s out! How to Manage Screen Time & Get Kids Outside!
The first week of summer vacation is here and everyone’s excited! Right now you’re busy settling into a new routine, sending the kids to play outside whenever they want (which still feels like a treat), and TV is an afterthought.
But what about when the summer honeymoon wears off and, heaven forbid, you hear someone utter “I’m bored”.
Let’s hatch a plan to save your sanity and get the kids outside on the regular all summer long.
I understand getting kids outside and busy is harder than it sounds. But as a mom myself, I‘m always looking for ways to manage their screen time so they can develop their imagination, which has been proven to help them excel in the real world.
It vital to their development at any age to play outside so they have the opportunity to hone their executive functioning skills, brush up on their social communications, and boost their physical strength.
You can get all that by letting do their kid thing outside?!
Here’s a short list of things you can do to get them moving without tricking them to go outside, then locking the door behind them.
Set screen time boundaries.
Summer vacation means loose schedules, late nights, and long days enjoying sunny weather. But don’t abandon your set boundaries when it comes to TV time, phone use, or time spent on the tablet. That’s why you’ve got the Den to establish clear screen times (and if you haven’t gotten one yet, you can buy a smart changing station here). Stick to your TechDen schedule and use the extra daylight time as their outdoor bonus. You’ll thank me in a week.
I have to tell you a story about the Adventure book first.
I have a brilliant sister. When her son turned 6, she had his birthday party at a nature preserve and gave partygoers an adventure book complete with a pencil that looked like Daniel Boone carved it himself. Their task was to record what they saw, complete a challenge, and pay attention to details of the outdoors to win prizes.
That made me think… Why can’t this be a thing for our kids to do all summer? It can be! Thus the Adventure Book was born.
You don’t have to make it from scratch but you certainly can (or you can find one on Amazon for example!). PLUS the prize for completing a book can be anything of your choosing such as coupons for ice cream trips, a day at the go-kart park, and so much more! The possibilities are endless and require very little from you, the parent. Give it a try and tell us what your young explorers completed. We’d love to hear from you!
Bad Weather Party
Who wants to celebrate rainy days or storms? I do! Rainy day activities don’t have to equal endless movie marathons or bland board games. Instead, throw a party! When bad weather rolls through, I take that opportunity to get out my “Tornado Party” box and reveal special games, treats, and books I collect from around the house with the intention to keep the kids distracted from scary weather. And yes, sometimes I secretly order things from Amazon and add them to the box for months. I want to keep the kids on their toes.
After each party, I repack the box with different games and books, new or not, so when the next storm rolls through we have something fun to keep us busy. I also stock Rocket Pops to hand out during bad weather only, making that an extra special treat for the kids. My mom did this exact thing while I was growing up and I’ve got to say, all these amazing distractions work. Whenever I see a storm coming through, I still get pretty excited.
Dust off the digital camera and take pictures the old fashioned way
Leave your phone inside and walk out the door. At first, it might feel like you’re leaving your right arm behind, but you’ll soon discover how removing that distraction puts you right in the middle of the action and keeps you engaged with your kids outside.
We love family time, and I can’t NOT take pictures. That’s why I started packing my old digital camera for outings (which in hindsight, really isn’t that old). That way while I’m in the moment, enjoying my kids, I’m still capturing sweet memories. If you’re staying close to home, leave your phone in The Den and make some memories. That’s why it was created 🙂 Or was it to single-handedly bring back the digital camera market?
There are thousands of ideas I want to share with you, but these are my personal top 4 & most effective ways to get the kids soaking up the summer sun. I’d love if you’d include your favorites from this list and add a few of your own!
Lastly, I want you to remember this; limiting your child’s screen time does more than get them off the couch. It preps them for success and to have a genuinely amazing childhood (and all the fresh air really tires them out).
And when you can, get out and play with them! You deserve a break too.
Megan Cahak is a contributing TechDen writer, mom of two, firefighter wife, and is the CEO/Owner of a copywriting company specializing in supporting small business growth online and in real life. Behind her big business dreams is a woman on a mission to make others laugh and nod their head in solidarity when talking kids & technology, free-range parenting (that’s a thing), and the ‘good ole days’ of growing up in the late 90s, early 2000s. Unrelated, Megan also drinks an entire pot of coffee a day and show no signs of slowing down.