“Screen time” can be a beautiful thing (keep kids entertained, no fighting between siblings, educational learning, a way to get things done around the house without interruption, etc) but we all know that in this day and age there is almost too much screen time. Between TVs, computers, iPads, smartphones, iTouches and more, our children will more than likely have a screen in front of their face for most of their lives.
It especially gets tough to limit screen time in the winter months when kids claim that it is too cold outside. But I remind my kids that our friends in Boston play outside in much colder weather than this. I also remind them that no one has ever died of boredom indoors, and that some of the most creative play comes from those times when the screens are off.
This winter break, I deliberately watched how my children spent their time when screen time was limited. We had very little time with electronics used during the break with the exception of television. (My 11-year-old claims he is the only sixth grader around without a phone, so that is always a fun argument.) Back to my story, yes, there were a few “I’m boreds” right off the bat, but by the end of break they had really made me happy. They took me back to my own childhood where there were no screens to interrupt our play time and when we used our imagination so much more. And the best part … nothing they did was because of my suggestions. They discovered things to do all on their own.
They dusted off the game cabinet and played Twister, cards, Clue, Monopoly, Jenga, RummiCube, Apples to Apples and plenty of Life.
Legos, legos and ugh more legos!
One of my favorites was flashlight tag at night. These crazy kids played with the neighbors all bundled up in 30-degree weather … and they had a blast. Each night they would decide where to meet, what to wear, and designate teams. They ran their little hearts out and came home with pink cheeks ready for some hot chocolate.
They made forts all over the house with blankets, sheets and comforters.
They read. Lots.
They remembered that we had a piano, a guitar, and a mini drum. They played these individually and then made up songs with friends. They danced. They made up routines. They did gymnastics.
We cooked, we baked. We made up recipes that were yucky and some that were delicious.
We went on walks.
They pulled out the boxes of arts & crafts and glued, cut, drew and colored.
They rode bikes.
They had arguments and disagreements with their friends and with each other. They worked it out. They compromised. They came to solutions without a parent solving problems for them.
They found old photo albums and spent hours going through them. They dug out old coloring pages from preschool and old report cards from years past. They laughed at what “babies” they were just a few years ago.
They played lots of basketball, football and soccer with the neighbors.
One day I heard rumbling in the garage and went downstairs to find this:
“RipStick Tag” they called it. Now granted, this is not the safest set-up in the world, but it was a kid creation! They made up the game, they included ripsticks, they turned on music, they made obstacles. They used their imaginations! (If your kids don’t have ripsticks yet, these are awesome!)
My children came up with games that we came up with thirty years ago, and that our parents did sixty years ago, so it’s nothing different, nothing monumental, but it is basic creative fun that I think so many children lack nowadays. I am sure that many of you reading this may have children who play these types of things daily and I know it makes you proud! Keep it up! My children are ages 9 and 11, and I know these days of running outside and using their imagination will get fewer and fewer, so I am all about encouraging very little screen time when we can.
Please share the creative ways your children are enjoying the winter without screens!