Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Screen-free days: Child lying on floor reading

It's good to to lie in the sun reading. Photo by Jasmin Thankachen

One family’s formula for screen-free days

Grab a book or a game, take a nap or a hike, or do nothing

This was the summer my kids learned the value of screen-free days.

Life in a pandemic often means people spend more time in front of a computer or television, and I worry about the amount of time my kids spend. So this summer, we declared “screen fasts,” or screen-free days.

It’s often challenging. My kids sigh “I’m bored” daily.

But we set clear ground rules, redirected kids to other ways of being entertained, and we succeeded. Our last, and longest screen fast lasted five days.

Taking screen-free days was worth it because we were able to have more family time, play some games that we had been wanting to get to all summer. We baked and cooked and the kids picked up a lot more books now that they had more time.

This week, my kids are getting ready for remote school, and my youngest just got a new laptop, so screens are back in our lives. But now limiting screen time is easier than it was before. My kids now now know they can do other things.

Here are some of the things we did:

Exercise

It wakes up the mind and keeps your body healthy. Go for a walk, ride your bike or scooter, jog, or get the blood flowing with simple exercises like jumping jacks, situps or burpees. Create an obstacle course and make it a competition. See how many exercises your child can do in a minute.

 

Game on

Pull out the board games or cards to play with family for some together time and friendly competition. My kids currently love Battleship, Uno, and Sleeping Queens.

 

Take it outside

Rain or shine,  being outdoors is just the ticket to keep boredom at bay. Take a hike, visit a local park (mask up and keep your social distance) and enjoy nature.

 

Be a bookworm

Libraries are open for curbside pickup. Graphic novels, picture books, mysteries, thrillers! Crawl into another world through a book! Many bookstores, such as Third Place Books, are open for browsing.

 

Hands-on activities

Science and art are always wonderful things to explore. Choose an easy art project or experiment, print or write down the directions and create away! With so many mediums like clay, crayons and paint you can keep the project open-ended and allow your child to explore their creativity using their own imagination.

Trading spaces

Move some furniture, rearrange a room, clean out a closet! There’s so much that can be done at home to make it feel fresh and new before school starts. Have your child pick out toys or books that can go to the donation bin. Or let them have a book sale with neighbor friends (arrange times where people can browse your books and leave payment in a box).

 

Garden

You don’t have to have a large plot to have plants. Use pots for fall flowers or start to plant your spring blooms. Little hands can help with digging and weeding too!

 

Take a nap

Children need so much more sleep than adults. Let them catch up on their zzz’s.

 

Build something

A fort, a Lego village, a world made of sticks and stones outside. Have your kids immerse themselves in a bigger project like building a piece of furniture or a treehouse. There are so many life-skills (link) that kids can learn when not on screens.

 

Read together

My kids love sitting on the couch and snuggling under a blanket with books to read out loud. Have your child read each character’s part, while you read the narration – it becomes a lot like a play!

 

Make your great escape

If your family feels comfortable with travelling locally, make those final road trips for the summer. Rent an RV, go camping, head off the unbeaten path. It will be a nice way to end summer, together.

 

Let them be bored!

My son’s summer anthem was “I’m bored!” My response: “It’s good to be bored and I’m okay with that!” Being bored is the best time to give your brain a break and a great way to think of something new!

 

More tips for a healthy summer: Getting kids to wear masks: tips from a doctor, Parents: Find meaning during the COVID crisis

About the Author

Jasmin Thankachen

Jasmin is an Eastside mom of two boys and enjoys parenting with lots of love and laughter. Co-Founder of PopUp StoryWalk, she also loves children's picture books, essay writing, and community stories.