One of the biggest concerns parents have is the amount of time their kids spend in front of screens playing games, watching YouTube or texting friends. But our digital world means that a variety of entertainment is only a button press away and that can be pretty enticing for kids (and parents).
The good news is that you don’t have to spend heaps of cash on elaborate outings to reduce your children’s screentime. Getting them away from the TV, tablet, laptop and phone is easier than you think. Here are some ideas to keep your family happy and active this weekend.
1. Ditch the car.
Heading to a local café or playground? Try and avoid driving and take the kids for a walk, scoot, skate or cycle instead. We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of a local village which means if it’s not raining heavily, our kids get their helmets out and the car stays parked. On the way, we visit the sports oval and the kids have a run around with our dog, Wilbur. We also often stop at the local skate park where the kids practice scooting, skating or riding at high speed while I hold my breath and get the Band-Aids ready.
2. Go on an adventure.
Our favourite thing to do as a family is head somewhere for an outdoor adventure. Whether it’s going for a bushwalk, playing Frisbee on the beach or doing some wildlife spotting, my kids absolutely love to get their gumboots or runners on and discover new places to explore. Last Saturday, we packed some snacks and headed to a mountain range where we discovered some stunning look outs and renamed some insects (antworms?). When we got home the kids were too exhausted to nag me for the remote and even managed a Sunday sleep-in – score!
3. Get your green thumb on.
Always wanted to grow your own veggies but never quite got around to it? Get your kids involved in the process. Plant some seeds in the garden and appoint your kids as chief horticulturalists. Make a chart of the things they need to do to look after their veggie patch and get them to tick off their duties as they go along. Growing your own veggies has the added bonus of reducing the weekly shopping bill - and improving your family's diet of course. Your kids will love the novelty of eating food they’ve grown themselves.
4. Get your groove on indoors.
Torrential downpour got you stuck indoors? Put on some dance music and show your kids how you used to party circa 1998. Teach them the Macarena, the running man and the chicken dance or go full vintage by busting out some MC Hammer moves…just make sure they aren’t uploading the footage to Insta Stories or Facebook Live. If that sounds too strenuous, move onto something slightly less energetic. You can grab a bedsheet and create an indoor cubby or play hide and seek.
5. No couch screen time.
We can’t interact with our kids 24/7, sometimes we just need them to get on with it while we get stuff done (hello sky high laundry pile). When you do fire up the TV/gaming console, remember that active screen time is better than couch potato time. Get the kids involved in playing interactive games that involve dancing or tennis, aka exergaming. Exergaming is great for fitness and coordination, it’s also super fun.
Getting your family to spend less time in front of screens doesn’t have to involve spending lots of cash on outings or toys. A simple walk through your suburb, trip to the beach or fun games at home are all it takes to keep your kids active, healthy and detached from the remote.
How do you get your little ones away from the screen? Tell us in the comments section below.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Ministry of Health.
Make Healthy Normal is a NSW government campaign to reduce rates of overweight and obesity by providing small, simple and achievable tips to make healthy a normal part of everyday life; motivating people to improve healthy eating and physical activity behaviors; and directing adults and children to effective support programs to help them make the changes.