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5 Distractions For Kids That Don’t Include Phones Or Tablets

Friday, 7 August, 2020

Jana Dalby

It feels like you’ve been in quarantine for years. The days of the week are “yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” Your kids are bored out of their minds, and you’re about to lose yours. 

The easiest way to distract your kids for a couple of hours is with a screen. But while it works in a pinch, there are real consequences to turning children loose with phones and tablets. Go down that path, and you may open a Pandora’s box of problems, from online privacy issues to trouble building relationships.

During a time like this, finding productive ways to occupy your children can be challenging. Get it right, and you’ll help them discover new hobbies and forge stronger family bonds. 

Here are some ideas for entertaining your kids that don’t involve a screen:

1. Gardening

Gardening is a satisfying way for kids to learn some “adulting” skills. Not only does it provide nutritious vegetables for the dinner table, but this activity also teaches hard work and responsibility.

The bigger picture is that gardening can also combat some of the stressors of stay-at-home life. Gardening builds muscle and a strong cardiovascular system.  There are also psychological benefits that come from gardening, which are attributed to the sunlight and time spent outdoors.

Gardening doesn’t need to be a huge endeavor. A small plot of soil with a few plants is enough to get your kids out of the house daily to work on something meaningful. Choose easy-to-grow veggies, such as squash and beans.

Hammer home the joys of gardening by inviting them to prepare a meal from what they grow. They get the joy of a job well done, and you get a night off from making dinner. 

2. Outdoor Sports

While organized leagues are on pause due to COVID-19, nothing can keep your kids active quite like sports. Each sport lets your son or daughter develop important skills, such as hand-eye coordination and resilience.

As with gardening, your child doesn’t need to master a sport to benefit from it. Give them a sport equipment budget, and let them decide what to do with it: Would they like to get a basketball goal and a ball? What about some swimming gear? If they want a bike, they might need to chip in some of their own allowance. 

Sports also provide an opportunity to teach healthy screen habits, if your kid is ready. Instead of playing video games or mindlessly scrolling through social media, find some clips on YouTube that teach proper technique. Highlight reels and instructional videos only give them more incentive to practice. 

3. Family Walks

No matter where you live, you can take a walk with your family — no phones allowed. Next time you need a break from work, tell everyone to get their shoes on and join you for a stroll.

Family walks accomplish a dual purpose: They get everyone some exercise in the great outdoors, and they provide face-to-face interaction with the people who matter most. 

While out walking, initiate conversations with each child. This is a time to connect, not merely get your steps in. Show them that they do not need social media to make true connections. 

4. Arts and Crafts

One potential harm of screen overuse by children is lack of creativity. Many of today’s children struggle to come up with stories. Rather than create something new, they would rather just look up others’ creations and ideas online.

A great way to combat this is through arts and crafts projects. Easy, kid-friendly ideas include:

  • Illustration: Drawing is one of the most accessible, enjoyable art forms. With just a pencil and a pad of paper, your kid can sketch anything he or she desires.
  • Sewing: Although needles should be kept away from young children, older ones can learn to sew with just a needle and thread. After teaching them to patch clothes, encourage them to try sewing a shirt or pants.
  • Painting: Remember those water-color sets you had as a kid? Get your kid one from a local craft store. Show her how to mix her own colors and keep them from bleeding all over the page.
  • Hand-sculpting: Although a pottery wheel is probably a little too advanced, hand-sculpting is a fun, low-cost way to get into pottery. If your kid wants something else to paint, encourage her to create something out of clay. 
  • Crafting competitions: Especially if you have multiple kids, competitions are an engaging way to get into arts and crafts. Building bridges out of balsa wood is a great starter project.

5. Get in the Kitchen

Who says cooking can’t be fun? You could use help keeping everyone fed, so you might as well turn it into an enjoyable activity. 

Cooking is a skill that will benefit your kids throughout life. But despite the fact that 75% of Americans prefer a home-cooked meal, many don’t know how to cook anything but eggs. 

Why not start with eggs? Branch out from there: Maybe they can incorporate scrambled eggs in stir fry, beaten eggs in pancakes, and over-easy eggs in a classic English breakfast. Once they’ve mastered eggs, let them pick the next “core” ingredient. 

A few weeks inside isn’t the end of the world, despite how it can feel. If anything, it’s a great time to teach your kids how to entertain themselves. You learned to do it, and without screens stealing their attention, so can they.