Create a healthy balance with technology.

Schools are out, playgrounds are closed, and playdates are canceled. Parents around the world are taking a collective deep breath, wondering what their days will hold now that their calendars are empty for a while.

Whether you’re parenting a toddler or a high-schooler, your saving grace during social distancing is likely the same: technology.

Over the past few months, there have been more resources uploaded online than ever before, from interactive zoo tours to Dolly Parton bedtime stories! It’s been a blessing and much-needed distraction, but everyone needs a break from the computer now and again.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce screen time while still keeping your brood entertained, read on. Today, we’re sharing 10 fun and engaging activities that will keep them busy (and give you a short break!), screens not included.

Give Yourself Grace

Before we dive into our list, take a minute and pat yourself on the back. You’re doing it, parents! Your living room is now your office, homeschool classroom, and all-day cafe, and you’re still managing to make it all work.

This experience is new for everyone, and we’re all going through it together. While this list is full of fun alternatives, don’t feel guilty letting your children work or play on their devices. Especially if you’re now working from home with a young child in tow, it might be the only way you can get a little work done, and that’s OK!

That said, when you’re ready for a break from screen time, these 10 activities can keep your kids busy. They can also help foster their incredible imaginations. You might be surprised at the stories and discoveries they come up with!

1. Choose arts and crafts over screen time

Crafting is a great way to help your kids think creatively. The best part? If you give them the materials and instructions, there are plenty of creations they can make on their own, freeing you up to check a few things off your to-do list.

From paper plates and toilet paper rolls to dried pasta and cupcake liners, there are tons of crafts that use things you already have in the house! Check out this list of quarantine-friendly crafts you can do today.

2. Bring out sensory toys.

Want to help your child build hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills? Sensory toys are ideal.

Like crafts, these are easy to make using household objects. Try making a sensory bin by filling a plastic container with dried beans, colored rice, or kinetic sand. Then, hide trinkets like army men, rubber balls, and toy cars inside.

Give your children a list of items and mini beach shovel, and see how many they can find. There are also plenty of DIY sensory toys you can make yourself. Rainbow soap, anyone?

3. Create an indoor obstacle course.

This one takes a little time to set up, but can provide your kids with hours of entertainment!

Keeping in mind the ages and abilities of your kids, set up a simple obstacle course and let your kids jump, climb, and wiggle their hearts out. Most of the time, 10 stations are enough to keep them interested for a while. A few of our favorite ideas include:

  • Crawling under a row of chairs.
  • Crawling through a play tunnel.
  • Throwing bean bags into laundry baskets.
  • Balancing on one floorboard (the rest is hot lava!).
  • Balancing a ping-pong ball on a spoon.

If you’re setting yours up outside, you’ll have even more free rein. Just remember to keep it safe and simple!

4. Try career role-playing over screen time.

It’s no secret that little kids love playing dress-up. Why not make this classic game a little more educational?

Hold a mock job fair and have each child dress like the career that he or she dreams to have one day. Do you have a future doctor on your hands? Bring out the miniature lab coat and notepad! Likewise, your budding ballerina can don her tutu, and your little dentist can tote a toothbrush and toothpaste!

This is a great way to talk about these jobs and all of the responsibilities they entail. Of course, if your mini-me only has eyes for the superhero costume, capes are always welcome!

5. Take a break from screen time with science experiments.

You’re now in charge of language, arts, history, math, and social studies. It can feel daunting to throw science into the mix! This is why it pays to make these lessons as fun as possible.

Thankfully, there are many easy, at-home science experiments that your kids will love to explore. Here’s a list of 20 to get you started. The slimier and foamier, the better!

6. Hold pretend dental check-ups.

Did you have to reschedule your child’s most recent dental checkup? While it’s smart to stay home, you can always bring the checkup to your living room!

Make it fun and dress up as a dentist, inviting your little patients to play along. Brush and floss their teeth, and discuss a few of our simple preventative dental care tips! You can even reward them with a sticker or little treat when they’re done as a prize for a job well done.

This is a great way to help your child get more comfortable around the dentist. It can also encourage them to be more confident in their ability to care for their teeth. Plus, now they have more material to work with when they role play on their own!

7. Go outside and “Chalk the Walk.”

Have you heard of Chalk the Walk? It’s a simple way for neighbors and loved ones to stay connected while being physically apart. The premise is simple: If you’re able to, take the kids outside and turn your sidewalk into a symbol of hope!

Write an inspirational message or draw an encouraging picture, inviting your little ones to get as creative as possible. It’s a simple way to spread joy, get some fresh air, and break free from screen time, all at once.

8. Have a family kitchen time.

Dust off those old cookbooks, find a new recipe and get the whole family involved! While it might be a little more difficult to find all of your ingredients at the store these days, see this as a chance to get creative!

Let the kids lead the way and see what they’d love for dinner tonight. Then, let them help mix, stir, measure, and pour, and count it as your math lesson for the day.

9. Build an indoor fort.

Looking a little gloomy outside?

Nothing beats the rainy day blues like a good, old-fashioned indoor fort! Give your kids a few oversized blankets, along with some dining chairs, living room cushions, pillows, and any other props you can find.

Put on a happy playlist, bring out a few healthy snacks, and let them go to town setting up the perfect play space. Then, grab a comforting favorite book and join them for the coziest storytime ever.

10. Make a bird feeder.

One of the silver linings of this quarantine is that it’s happening during the springtime. This means you have plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature as this season kicks into full swing.

Kids will especially love seeing all the brightly hued birds that are now perching nearby and singing all day long! Invite as many as possible to your home by making these kid-friendly, homemade bird feeders. From stale bagels to orange halves, this is a great way to make use of your pantry and gives the little ones plenty of excitement!

Reduce screen time and turn on family time.

As we all learn to navigate this new normal, it’s important to be kind and understanding with ourselves and one another. Some days you’ll need the digital babysitter more than others, and that’s perfectly fine.

For those days when you want to reduce screen time a little, give these ideas a try! At the very least, you’ll get the family moving, refreshed, and ready to tackle yet another day together.

If you need anything from our office during this time, we’re here for you. Contact our office at any time to connect.