If you live in northern parts of the world, chances are February isn't one of the mildest months. In the places I've lived, this month is typified by either dark rain cloud or grey melted snow. Though I do believe there is no bad weather, just bad clothing, February is a month where we tend to spend more time indoors.
The problem with more indoors time is that my kids get cabin fever. And, they get it fast. When this happens, it becomes all too easy to grab an iPad or throw on a children's show to distract them. As it is, children are exposed to screens way too much. While the American Pediatric Association suggests children under the age of six should have no more than one hour worth of screen time, the BBC reports the average child spends 6 hours in front of electronics. The consequences of this are staggering. Over exposure to TV, tablets and computers can stunt a child's self-regulation, attention, and vocabulary.
I've seen it in my own home. For instance, I try to always indicate how many shows or how long they can have an iPad for and I warn them just before it's time to shut it off. When my kids become defiant, I become concerned. There have also been times I notice that without the tablet, my kids become ornery or unpleasant. These are my main tell-tale signs that we need a screen time diet.
On those rainy, slushy, snowy or grey days how can we successfully avoid excessive screen time, but keep our children entertained? Here are several tried and true screen-free boredom busters for kids. They're fun, budget-friendly, and simple to set up.
1. Open up the pantry and bake a healthy, tasty snack.
There are some awesome kid-friendly recipes here.
2. Make a play dough play scene.
Use this recipe to make gorgeous play-dough. Roll out the dough and use it in combination with toys. Or, use rubber stamps to make impressions in the dough. Knead and re-start as many times as desired!
3. If there is fresh snow outside, bring snow in and color it!
All you need are pipettes or a baby's medicine dispenser, a number of cups, water, and food coloring. Grab some of your child's favorite toys and place the snow in a bin. A disposable table cloth is a nice safeguard to catch snow that may come out of the bin. Mix water with the food coloring, gather it in the pipette, and squeeze it into the snow!
4. Make an insta-catapult.
This is such a simple screen-free boredom buster and is so much fun. Grab a ladle or slotted spoon. Balance it on a container, grab small toys, and catapult them into the sky.
5. Have a toy pool party!
It's as simple as grabbing waterproof toys, a big pot, and some warm water! I like to place a large beach towel underneath to contain the splashing.
6. Construct with cardboard (or any recycling).
It's amazing how inventive kids can be with some washable paint, tape, glue, and clean recycling. For older children, adding a glue gun into the mix will help make a more stable creation.
7. Set up a simple sensory bin.
Lentils, favorite toys, and kitchen utensils are great for sensory play and discovery. No lentils? Stale cereal and/or old noodles make for fun sensory items!
8. Flatten your cardboard and paint it into a road map.
Grab toy cars, animals, and people to make a small village! Add an extra element of fun by taking the cardboard and cars to the stairs. Secure the cardboard and race one car against the other!
It's amazing how simple screen-free boredom busters can be! All you and your kids need is a little imagination and a sense of fun to turn a dreary day into a lot of fun.
When Alana Pace found out she was pregnant with her second child only six months after having her first, she knew she had to get creative fast. Fortunately, spending so much of her childhood outdoors with a mother who specialized in Early Childhood Education, learning through play became almost instinctive. Each morning with her kids marks a new opportunity to explore and seize the day. On Parenting From the Heart, she writes about her experiences, life lessons, activities, and tips that are of value to young families. Be sure to follow along with her blog on Facebook for parenting and play-based learning tips!