“Mom, Dad, I’m bored!” “There’s nothing to do.” “I don’t want to go outside, I want to keep watching my show.” Sound familiar?
There is so much programming on TV geared to children of all ages that it can be tough to get them interested in spending their time doing something else.
Studies have shown that most children watch about three to four hours of TV a day – adding up to more than 20 to 30 hours every week. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced that children under the age of two shouldn’t watch any television. Older children should keep their total screen time to less than two hours a day.
But let’s be honest, sometimes a video or TV show can be a big help to calm a child down and give parents some time to get things done around the house. Don’t despair -here are some top alternatives to TV for your family to try:
1. Visit the library. You don’t have to spend money to borrow some new books, see a performer or learn a lesson.
2. Reconnect with family and friends. If your children are old enough, have them write a letter to a friend or relative. Younger kids can draw a picture, such as a self-portrait or one of their favorite things, to send to a relative.
3. Get outdoors! Create drawings with sidewalk chalk, play hopscotch or practice jumping rope.
4. Take a nature hike. Collect seeds and leaves. Have your child make a collage with the materials you collected together.
5. Organize a neighborhood scavenger hunt.
• Give children a list of things to find at home and around the neighborhood.
• Develop a theme based on color, size or shapes, for example:
o Find a red flower, blue car, white house
o Find big trees, little bushes, big dog or small cat
o Find rectangles (doors), triangles (yield sign) or circles (wreath)
6. Pretend! Set up a fort in your room using pillows and blankets. Encourage your children to come up with a story to explain why they’re inside the fort.
7. Grab some play dough. Kids can make their own pretend food, animals or even people with the right ingredients. Making your own dough is easy:
• In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups flour, ½ cup salt, 2 cups water, 2 TBSP cooking oil, ¼ cup cream of tartar and a drop of food coloring.
• When mixture looks smooth, let it cool and it’s ready to play with!
You can store the extra or leftovers in the fridge. Give kids cookie cutters, bottle caps or toothpicks for creating objects and patterns.
8. Get musical. Play a CD of your child’s favorite songs and have a sing-along or dance party. Create toy instruments using saucepans, boxes of pasta or even small cans of food. A wooden spoon makes a great drumstick!
9. Play board games or card games together. Games can teach a child math, science, reasoning, reading and logic skills. And many games have an age range, so you can play together as a family.
10. Bring a meal to life. Take one of your child’s favorite stories and create a menu around it. Does she love Winnie the Pooh? Have biscuits or muffins and honey. If Alice in Wonderland is a favorite, plan a tea party. The Very Hungry Caterpillar eats his way through a lot of fruit and could be the perfect inspiration for fruit salad. Does your family love pasta? Have an Italian night inspired by Strega Nona!
Remember, cutting down on children’s TV time can make them more active and engaged in the world around them. Less screen time can help them reduce the chance of becoming overweight, feel healthier, sleep better and even perform better in school.
Author Bio: Erin is a writer for the MindWare blog and resides in Bloomington, Minnesota. MindWare is a company that offers educational toys for kids that promote brainy thinking and family fun! Erin loves cooking and movies and is expecting her first child in a few months.