I worry constantly that my kids are spending too many hours glued to their screens. I also frequently hear about the constant battles other parents have with their children to get them interested in anything other than the PlayStation or their tablets. The difficulty we are all are facing is prizing our kids away from their devices and phones and it’s a huge struggle. In this post, we discuss some simple ways to get your  kids off the couch and outside, with our screen free week!

What is a screen free week?

A screen free week is a week when you and your family find alternatives to screen time, and get out and get moving, instead of relying on phones and tv to stay occupied. It’s a digital detox!

Time needed: 7 days.

How to start a screen free week

  1. Get out in the mornings 

    Going for a long hike, or 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 these days so we need to fill the void with some pre-planned activities for a no screen week!

  4. 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.

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,
  • Selfies,
  • Plastic surgery and body image
  • Botox
  • White teeth and self-tanning
  •  Holidays in Disneyland
  • Daytime television,
  •  Gaming
  • Cyberbullying
  •  Junk food,
  •  Noisy battery filled toys,
  •  Homework,
  •  After-school clubs,
  •  Image awareness
  • Competition.
  •  Pressure.
  • SATS
  • Homework

We had no “stuff” to worry about,  to obsess over, and whinge for, we had a care free 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 kids 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 just to relax and recharge at home.
  •   Try to be more present by switching off the internet on your phone for the full day and try to leave your phone at home or in the car when you are out with the kids to enable you to be more focused on the present moment,  to be honest, it feels quite liberating. You could also put your phone away in a drawer and try to 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 creates 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 its important for me to monitor his use rather than let it get out of control.
  • Evenings are a great time 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 to share 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 just slow down.

We might not be able to 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 are lives constantly overburdened then so are ours. We can try to create slow, empty time which helps to create pockets of calm in an otherwise crazy day

For further reading on how to reduce your child’s screen time  and advice on having a screen free week  you’ll like 

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