It’s probably the biggest question for modern parents at the moment, isn’t it? How can you keep your children occupied in a way that’s safe, stimulating, and entertaining for them, without resorting to the TV or a tablet?
First off, there’s certainly nothing wrong with a bit of solo screen time. All parents need a break sometimes and it’s completely fine to put on ‘In the Night Garden’ so that you get 20 minutes to yourself. It’s just not advisable for this to be the only thing you do, however, so here are 10 ways to keep the kids busy without technology.
1. Make a busy box
Encourage independent play by having a box full of toys and activities that don’t need adult supervision, like dolls, cards, and colouring books. Tell your kids that if they’re ever bored and you’re busy, they can go to that box and pull out anything they like to play with.
2. Accept their help
Children like to copy their parents, so allow them to help you cook or clean with age-appropriate chores. This might be setting the table or separating clothing for the washing. Make the most of them being happy to help because you might long for it in the coming years.
3. Have them do some fun science
This doesn’t mean seeing what you can blow up in a chemistry set, but rather seeing what will stick to a magnet or what will float in a bowl of water. It’s simple, but entertaining and can often be done with items from your kitchen cupboard as they show you here.
4. Chalk it up
If your garden is covered in paving stones, grab some multi-coloured chalk and let the kids create an epic artwork. Alternatively, they could also work on the pavement with supervision. Then, after it rains, they can start all over.
5. Get them into nature
Children love being outdoors, especially if they can get really messy. Put them in some old clothes and let them run about in the nearest park or green space without worrying about mud or puddles.
6. Do a scavenger hunt
The best part is that you don’t need to write out a whole list. Just give your kid a task, i.e. “find something you use for drawing”, and let them search. When they bring back a pencil, ask them another, i.e. “something that begins with the letter M”. If they need a reward, then let them choose what they have for dessert. If you want to take it up a notch, look here for some tips.
7. Get a Bouncy castle
All kids love to bounce around and get rid of that excess energy, so why not get them their very own bouncy castle for the garden? You can even get ones shaped like a pirate ship or attached to inflatable water slides. If you want to look at some of the options, check out: https://bebopfun.co.uk/collections/bouncy-castles.
8. Give them a job
Children will feel important and special if given a task to keep them occupied. One really cool way is to give them the blank cards that you get from a craft store and ask them to draw a picture on the front. For instance: “It’s Uncle Jon’s birthday next week, do you think you can make him a really cool birthday card?” (These also save you from buying pre-made cards and are loved by relatives and friends alike.)
9. Grow something
If your kids like pretty flowers or have a favourite fruit, why not try to grow your own? It’s fun, a little messy, and it teaches them something about nature. Plus, you might even save some money on grocery bills.
10. Make them a photographer
If you’ve got an old digital camera lying around (or you see one offered for free on a Facebook group), let your kids fool around with it and figure out how to take photos. Then, they can come back in and show you what they’ve done.
These 10 tips should have given you enough ideas to keep your kids busy for a while. The important thing is to see what your kids respond well to, so that you can focus on that more than pushing something they’re not interested in. This will help you get them away from their screens for a bit, while raising creative, intelligent kids.