50 Screen Free Activity Ideas
It can be so helpful to have a go-to list of activities that you can pull out of nowhere when you need it. In a moment of chaos with active kids bouncing off the walls, throwing the clean washing everywhere, I can often find myself looking to the TV babysitter to step in to get some peace. Once I do that however, it can be very hard to get them off without a big annoying drama. Having some activities ready, such as a bucket of playdough, can be a win-win for everyone.
Some activities take more effort and are messier than others and some may not be appropriate for all children’s ages. It is so easy to underestimate the benefits of creative play (which not always means a big mess!).
- Look for bugs under things. Take a microscope.
- Make a pretend campfire
- Nature collage. Get some PVA and create a picture
- Create pet rocks or gumnut babies
- Footpath artwork with chalk
- Make ‘perfume’ concoctions from flowers in water (who didn’t do this as a kid?)
- Plant some seeds or collect seeds from the garden for a ‘seed bank’
- Make a bird feeder
- Tie-dye old clothes
- Hopscotch with chalk
- Make a painting using a fly swatter
- Cotton bud painting
- Make an outdoor cubby
- Cook up a storm in a diy mud kitchen
- Throw stones into the creek (can keep little kids entertained for ages!)
- Collect and make a painting using flowers and sticks as brushes and stamps
- Totem tennis (I picked up one from Aldi very cheap)
- Press flowers (do remember doing this?)
- Give some crumbs to ants and watch them carry them away or make an ant farm
- Paint using matchbox cars
Indoor (or Outdoor)
- Build a cubby/fort with blankets and have a tea party or use a torch for a scary story
- Turn off the lights and have a disco with glow sticks
- Play charades
- Have a silly dance party
- Bake or cook something. (Today we just made these super simple 2 ingredient biscuits with ripe bananas and oats and then added whatever else)
- Grow a beanstalk – put a bean in a clear glass with cotton balls and water
- Create and illustrate your own book (Just staple some A4 paper down the middle)
- Get a few age appropriate board games or adapt older age versions
- Thumbprint painting. Make some funny creatures
- Create a thankful tree
- Get creative with pipe cleaners, buttons and blu tak or play doh
- Play a Pictionary game where you guess what the other person is drawing or making with play doh
- Write a letter to distant relative or friend and post it
- Make a collage using any print material you have lying around
- Put celery or flowers in food dye and see what happens
- Lego or building blocks
- Card games like snap, memory or UNO
- Make cards and wrapping paper for upcoming birthdays
- Make a car or shop from a box
- Dress ups
- Puppets / magic performance
- Homemade jewellery with uncooked pasta and wool
- Make a crown
- Ziplock bag painting
- Potato stamp
- Make an egg carton caterpillar
- Make sheep with cotton balls
- Read books – sometimes we only read at bedtime. But anytime can be story time!
- Make your own movie
- Make play doh
Take some photos and let us see what fun you create together!
- Lis Kate
Tips for Getting your Child’s Screen Time Under Control
As a mother of two young kids I am known to chuck on the TV or hand over the tablet in order to get a few minutes of peace. As tired parents caught up in the constant demands of everyday life it is just so easy to rely on technology to keep our kids happy while we get some stuff done such as tend to younger siblings. I don’t think all screen time is bad, but it’s definitely a slippery slope. All of a sudden you find that your little people are consuming more digital content. It starts to cause fights, they are asking for it like it’s crack cocaine, your kids start to look like zombies and you don’t even know what they’re watching anymore. It kinda gets out of hand really quick!
Unlike our own childhood experiences, our kids are really surrounded by technology from the get go. No getting bored in between TV shows on the box, it’s now a constant streaming on demand, back to back smorgasbord with everything a click away. It’s a whole new digital age and the long-term effects are not yet fully understood. There are lots of upsides of this digital age, but even Steve Jobs is said to have limited the technology his kids used at home. So why should we be mindful of how much screen time our kids consume? Dr Elizabeth Kilby has identified the main areas being affected by screen time which in Britain has more than doubled in the last decade.
- Social issues (with ages 4-11 developmentally very important in terms of socalisation)
- Increased physical impacts, including poor core muscle development and obesity from inactivity and ‘text neck’ where spines are unusually bent due to leaning over devices
- Impacts on focus and concentration
So how can we gain some control over this beast that is screen time?
- Be consistent and confident with your plan of attack. Parents need to be on board and fully committed. Oh yes, this is a hard one. But remember you will see positive benefits in your child as you persevere.
- Be a good role model. The saying goes that children may not listen to you, but oh boy they are watching everything you do! I am trying to put my phone away from at least 5-9pm every day and this has its benefits for me too.
- Decide on firm screen time limits. You may not be wanting to cut it out altogether. Some recommend cutting out the morning time (yes, I know this is often the babysitter until mum or dad fully wakes up!). TV in the morning has been shown to have adverse effects on children for the rest of the day, by kind of slowing down their brain. Personally, I have noticed the difference in just getting my child ready after TV and after no TV (less agitation!).
- Find a new routine for your child that replaces the screen time. I love board games so have been collecting a few from op shops. We are trying to add board game time during weeknights. Not as easy as it sounds when you and your partner are tired but it’s a great opportunity to connect and engage. Other ideas include Lego, dance
- Tell your child in advance about the new routine and don’t try to dismiss their feelings because obviously the are not going to be happy chappies about it and will need to express that.
- Set a timer for their allocated screen time. This is really effective in avoiding fights.
- Always monitor what they are watching. Slower, less frenetic shows are meant to be better content. Watch this TED talk by Dr Dimitri Christakis to get informed on what TV does to your child.
- Don’t worry if you fall off the horse! When we get sick, when it rains for four days straight, when we travel somewhere it is very easy to fall back into bad habits. Just admit you let it creep back in again but you are again setting the limits so they can think better, sleep better, learn better and their bodies can grow and feel better.
None of this parenting gig is easy. But as is often the case, the important stuff takes the most persistence and plain hard work! Also feel free to check out our list of 50 Screen Free Activity Ideas
- Awesome Assistant
Tips to Make Your Child's Bedroom the Perfect Sleep Zone!
We know that sleep is important for your child’s development. We also know it’s important for your own sanity. However, you might be like most parents who find themselves wondering why their baby can’t just they, ‘sleep like a baby’. It’s comforting to know that problems with settling, no routines, feeding to sleep (because any other way is just too hard), is more common than we probably realise. While I can’t give you a magic bullet for your, or soon to be, lack of sleep, I can give you some tips for choosing the right nursery furniture which may help set your child up for a night of peaceful (and hopefully unsettled) rest.
Curtains & Blinds
Dark rooms are ideal for putting your child to sleep. This is especially relevant for those with children who need daytime naps as well as those of us who live in areas with daylight saving. Our bodies are simply designed to sleep when it’s dark. This is because the hormone melatonin induces sleep but is supressed by light. So when settling down, it’s best to turn off the TV and iPad and any other bright lights.
Lamps & Lighting
Further to the point above, a dim lamp or setting on your lights is the ideal level of lighting to use when putting your child to sleep. Using a bright light can give your child the message that he or she should be awake. If you need to go into your child’s room during the night, try to have a dim light handy you can use.
A baby monitor with video function can be really worth the investment as during the night your child may make a few grizzles but then settle him or herself. With a baby monitor you can check on your child without having to sneak open the door to see if they are okay. Also, if your room is further away it can be very handy.
A mat on floor can provide a very welcome soft padding on a hard floor to aid your oh so quiet exit out of the room after your child has nodded off. It will also provide a warm, soft place for your child to play on in the colder months. On carpet, a floor mat can provide your carpet with the perfect protection from the all too common spills, playdoh, textas and all the fun but messy stuff. A children’s floor mat can also enhance the character of the room with many fun design options available.
Winding down to sleep is all about creating a soothing and calm atmosphere. There’s nothing worse when you’ve ticked all the boxes with a bath, a book and a goodnight cuddle and you’re feeling like, hey, I’ve got this, but then you get surprised with a sudden nappy change… but you aren’t sure where the wipes are and you can’t find the Sudocream anywhere. Baby is getting unsettled as you are rummaging around. In no time at all you’ve undone all your good, soothing work. Having a good storage system in place can help you stay organised because if anything is guaranteed you will be required to grab any of your hordes of baby stuff at any given time. Baby change tables and wardrobes are handy nursery furniture options which provide great storage.
Stuff at children's height
Providing an interesting space is important so that your child enjoys being in their room. Having their stuff at their level, such as toy bins, book shelves, little children’s lounge chairs etc. allows your child to interact with their belongings and feel like it’s a special space for them where they feel safe… and to hopefully sleep a lot in!
- Lis Kate
4 Tips for Choosing the Right Kids' Bedroom Furniture
Are you like some parents who didn’t think too much about their children’s bedroom and nursery furniture and have ended up with impractical spaces, a lack of storage space and mismatched items? Or maybe you are ahead of the game and in the research stage. Matching your child’s needs with the right furniture is definitely worthwhile to maximise the functionality of your space. If your house is short on play areas, getting the bedroom set up to host a range of activities makes life that little bit easier – especially on those rainy days! Whilst perhaps more expensive, you may find some pieces provide multiple uses, like kids’ table and chair sets or beds with built in storage, or allow for an increasing age range through adjustable features.
A place for everything
Storage, storage, storage! We all know kids come with a lot of stuff which seems to multiply regularly. Make no excuses for their stuff to be untidy! Ensure there is ample storage at their height. Tub style storage is a must for kids’ bedrooms as it makes packing up super easy. Toy boxes are also a great option to quickly pack away all those little items and some can double as a seat. Choosing a bed for your child that has space underneath provides a great home for storage boxes or for a trundle bed for when they have sleepovers.
Providing open space for playing in your kid’s bedroom is always a smart idea and there are a number of ways you can achieve extra room. This includes choosing a kids’ bed which has inbuilt storage. Bunk beds can be very handy if you have two beds in the room. Another great way to open up some floor space is with a children’s loft bed. The space underneath can fit a desk, wardrobe or just room to play. Because of the rising demand of bunk beds and loft beds there is a wide variety of super stylish and cute designs available for all budgets.
Practical spaces for fun and learning
Creating special and fun spaces in your children’s bedroom can encourage play and learning activities whilst providing practical places to spend time. If you want to encourage your child to read you may want to consider creating a welcoming and cosy book nook. This can be done easily with a bookshelf and some cute cushions and a rug. If your child loves to draw and do craft you may want to create an activity station area. Clear tubs can be used to store different craft items. A table and chairs set can often include handy storage inside for craft materials. Attach hooks on the wall to hang up their art smocks. Yes, the fun stuff is always messy – so make sure to lay down a plastic mat on the floor to protect your carpet from any wayward glue or textas.
Using walls for keepsakes and artwork displays
You may want to consider some use of the walls for special items. Ample shelving in your child’s bedroom is a great way to display those special toys and keepsakes which are more for looking at than playing with. Super cute shelving which are divided into small sections are so great for collecting and displaying little treasures like shells found at the beach or a favourite figurine. Displaying your child’s artwork on the walls is a great way for them to feel ownership of the space and to be proud of their efforts. You may wish to do this with a pin or magnetic whiteboard, the old Blutac or a neater option is in frames which can be bought cheaply at Ikea.
Have fun creating special and inspiring spaces for your little people whilst maximising space with practical and affordable options. Don’t forget you should aim for an overall calming atmosphere in your children’s bedrooms rather than a cluttered, hectic vibe. Because we all know the thing we want to encourage most is a good night’s sleep!
- Lis Kate
Tips to make a smooth transition from cot to a toddler or single bed
We know that anything to possibly disrupt your child's sleeping patterns is a very delicate area! But there comes a time, often around 2 - 3.5 years, when your child will make the transition from their cot (or from your bed) to a toddler or single bed. We have a few tips to help make the move easy for everyone.
There’s various reasons why you may feel ready to start the process. You may have a new baby who needs a place to sleep or your child is starting to climb and outgrow the cot. A toddler or single bed can also make toilet training smoother by allowing quicker access to the toilet or potty. Or if you are like me, you hardly ended up using the cot in the end and you are finally moving your toddler from your bed into their own bed and are ready for some decent sleep finally!
- Prevent falls out of the new bed by choosing a specially designed toddler bed or using guard rails.
- Choose a toddler bed or kids’ single bed which is built closer to the ground to help prevent serious injuries.
- If you are concerned about falls out of the bed, you may want to try just using a mattress on the ground to begin with.
- Do not have any gaps around the bed and any rails that your child could get stuck in.
- Don’t forget to keep the bed away from curtains with rods which can be pulled down, securing furniture to the walls to prevent falling, and restricting access to appliances such as heaters which can cause burns etc.
Celebrate & Ownership
- Help your child get excited about moving to a bigger bed – it’s a real milestone worth celebrating.
- If you can involve them in the decision about what colour or theme the bed is it is ideal so they feel greater ownership
- Talk to your child about their exciting new bed which will be coming soon
- Involve your child in setting up their new bed
Slowing Down & Routine
- A routine, whether an existing one or a new one can help smooth the transition as it can comfort your child in an unsettling time.
- We love the idea of a gratitude tree or a gratitude jar. Every night you write down something you and your little person are thankful for.
- We know completing the full bedtime routine doesn’t always happen! Not for us anyway! But even if you skip the odd bath, small things like closing the curtains together can be done easily every night and can signify it’s time to hit the hay.
Provide a comforting and soothing space
- Aim for a soothing atmosphere in your child’s room with calm colours - not too chaotic (we know not always possible!).
- A couple of drops of lavender essential oil in the bath may help to calm and soothe.
- A familiar blanket from the cot may help.
- Make bedtime positive – say something soothing and uplifting to end the night. Bedtime can be daunting and scary.
- A dim night light can help those who are a little scared or unsure in the full darkness.
Whilst perhaps a daunting transition for your little one (especially if you are moving them out of your bed into their own bed), this is a very exciting time for you and your child. We won’t go into the joy of the 5.30am visits to the parents room in this article. But we do hope you can make a smooth transition and everyone can get some zzzzz’s.
- Lis Kate