I constantly worry that my kids spend too many hours glued to their screens. I also frequently hear about parents’ constant battles with their children to get them interested in anything other than the PlayStation or their tablets. We are all facing difficulty prizing our kids away from their devices and phones, which is a huge struggle. This post discusses some simple ways to get your kids off the couch and outside with our screen-free week!
What is a
screen free week?
You may prefer to try a screen fee day or a screen-free weekend if you feel a week is too much too soon!
Time needed: 7 days.
How to start a screen free week
- Get out in the mornings
Going for a long hike, visiting a National Trust area, farm or play area, gets the kids running around and gives them plenty of exercise. Getting out first thing in the morning makes it easier to move your kids before they settle down in front of their tv screens.
- Start with a screen free morning
If your kids are addicted to screen time, you need to wean them off gently to avoid conflict. Try starting with a screen free morning, then gradually build up the screen free time until you can try a screen free week.
- Always have some screen free activities planned when limiting kids screen time
You need to keep your kids occupied while they are being weaned off their screens, kids don’t have the freedom we used to have, so we need to fill the void with some pre-planned activities for a no screen week! Join the National Trust, they have great activities for the kids for during the school holidays. most of the houses and buildings are open to the public during the summer months and there are some great resourses for kids to do during their week off school.
- Set some clear rules
If your children know the rules they will be less likely to push the boundaries and they will know exactly what to expect during your screen free challange.
Think back to the lazy summers of our youth, what made it so different from our lives today, apart from the obvious
- Bills to pay,
- Rent to find
- Health issues
- Financial worries
- Demands of the workplace
We were lucky enough to be free from the constant pressure from:
- Social media
- Adverts telling us what we need
- Designer clothes
- Mobile phones
- Plastic surgery and body image
- White teeth and self-tanning
- Holidays in Disneyland
- Daytime television
- Junk food
- Noisy battery filled toys
- After-school clubs
- Image awareness
We had no “stuff” to worry about, obsess over, and whinge about. We had a carefree childhood and an easier life.
This week is the first week of the holidays, and my diary is already bulging with party invitations and events, even though I culled a few activities before the school holidays. These days our kids are busier than ever.
How to simplify your kid’s time
- Try to focus kids time on things which they love doing, try to choose quality over quantity when it comes to after-school activities, this frees up more time during their week for parties or play dates and to still allows kids plenty free time to relax and recharge at home.
- Try to be more present by switching off the internet on your phone for the full day. Leave your phone at home or in the car when you are out with the kids so you can focus on the present moment, to be honest it feels quite liberating. You could also put your phone in a drawer and only check it twice a day to avoid the temptation to get drawn into social media or checking emails.
- Getting out into the fresh air is vital for families as it helps us connect with each other and connect with nature. It calms the kids by getting rid of excess energy and helps to create memories. But best of all it doesn’t cost anything!
- Like all parents I try to limit the time my kids spend on the TV and tablets, I have realised that the more time my kids spend on electronics the more manic their behaviour is, especially towards each other. We have a “no TV ” rule in our house until 5 pm, the kids know this and accept that it is not “TV time” so don’t constantly mither for it. They also know that if they play nicely together during the day I will bring TV time forward by a few hours. This saves a huge amount of fighting and sibling squabbles in our house and TV time is a cosy time of togetherness in our house, whilst the daytimes are spent playing and burning off energy.
- Tablets are mainly used for travel and situations where one child has to wait for another, such as swimming, karate, rugby etc. One of my children is completely not bothered by the iPad but my 5-year-old is obsessed with it so it’s important for me to monitor his use rather than let it get out of control.
- Evenings are
a greattime to cosy down with blankets and candles, for chats and cuddles and our favourite programs.
- It’s the simple things we remember as we get old, not the money we had spent on us, or the clothes we wore, it was the warmth of our parent’s hugs and the taste of a home cooked meal, or a chippy tea in front of coronation street.
We may not be able to fix all the distractions of our full-to-bursting lives, but we can go some way to simplify small, simple things for ourselves and our kids. We can stop making our kids so busy, stay in the present, stop filling up the “free” time and slow down.
We might not stop our kids screaming at each other and having major meltdowns, but we can make it easier for them by not overstimulating them. If our kids’ lives are constantly overburdened, then so are ours. We can create slow, empty time, which helps to create pockets of calm in an otherwise crazy day.
Check out when the national screen-free week is each year here and see if you can join in with the rest of the world for a challenge!
For further reading on how to reduce your child’s screen time and advice on having a screen-free week, you’ll like Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, and you can visit the Simplicity Parenting website here for more tips.