Blogging Baby Size 6: Turning off the TV and computer

Filed under: Tweens, Teens, Activities: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies, Toys, Gadgets, That's Entertainment

We notice such a vast difference in our kids in terms of their behavior, their calmness, and their creativity when we force them to turn off all of the screens in the house (as Mary P. calls them): The TV and computer screens. We usually let them play their games or watch TV in the summer mornings while we adults are waking up and having coffee and showering and starting our day. My husband is a college professor who is off for summer, and I am self-employed, and around all the time (unless I am on the road). But our general rule is that the screens go off, even during the heat of the summer.

Even though there is a certain amount of moaning about this rule, here is what my kids have come up with to entertain themselves when the screens are off:

6. They have begun sewing clothes for their Lego Bionicles. I got them some black fabric at Walmart for $.75, and some black thread, and I often find them sitting on the living room couches and sewing accessories, capes, clothing, pillows, and backpacks for their little creatures.

5. They read books. They love to read, but I have noticed they are more likely to do it if they have no electronic options.

4. They make houses out of boxes. My youngest child and his two best friends pulled down boxes from the attic (and all of the styrofoam pieces that were inside them) and got out fabric paints and magic markers. They decorated the boxes, filled them with stuffed animals, and stuck the styrofoam pieces on as decorations, attaching them to the wet paint. They played with these for about a week in my living room.

3. They play in the sprinkler. I am lucky that my kids (12, nearly 10, 8.5) are old enough to set up the sprinkler on their own. They go out and get thorougly set, and this keeps them both cool AND outside.

2. They play with water balloons. We have a studio in back of our house with a sink. They use that to fill up their balloons. The big challenge is that they often try to run through the house as "base."

1. And the number one way my kids entertain themselves when we turn off the screens? They clean the house. At our house, since I am the one who pays for the games they play, we have a rule that the kids have to vacuum and clean their rooms, cut the grass and weed in order to earn the time they play their games. So, yesterday morning, my youngest son and his friend (who also plays the games) picked up the living room and vacuumed, my middle son loaded the dishwasher, and my oldest son cut the grass. I supervised, and went over some spots they missed with the vacuum, but boy, did that save my back!

What do your kids do when you turn off the screens?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.