Electronics and kids… Is this a controversial topic? Probably so. Some parents wouldn’t let their kids touch a electronic with a ten foot pole. Other parents are so thankful for them to keep their kids quiet or catch a much needed break. I, like you will discover on a lot of topics, have one foot here and one foot there. I believe this is because I find balance important. I tend not to swing in extremes one way or the other. And while this can be super annoying when your asking me where I want to go dinner and I’m up for anything, I do believe that when it comes to electronics, moderation is key.
Balancing Electronics & Activities: A FREE Activity Game Printable Below
I grew up in a rural area. I love a good farm, a quiet night where you can only hear crickets and food that you picked up from the local farmer’s market. I cherish those things. However, I also really appreciate technology and medicine and science and forward thinking. Personally, I don’t want my kids to grow up in isolation from electronics. It is because of technology, we have been able to do more now than ever. If my kids have an interest, I want them to be able to learn and grow and become one of the best in their fields. And let’s be real, my kids are already teaching me things… I can only imagine what it will be like when they are adults.
With that being said, I am a HUGE fan of experience. Some of my favorite memories when I was a child was when I was outside exploring and building forts. With my kids, I promote strongly, riding your bike, take a hike, run and play tag. Breath fresh air. Draw and paint. Explore, imagine, make believe! Build towers and play games… that include dice or cards or a game board.
So, for me, it comes back to balance…
For us, we don’t allow electronics in bedrooms at night. It’s reading or books on tape. We have boundaries on screen time, and usually, whatever responsibilities fall on the kids that day, need to be addressed prior to the privilege of game time.
Our eldest, who is about to be 11, is actually pretty conservative when it comes to electronics. She likes to text with her girlfriends and loved ones, but I am not concerned about her gaming out because she doesn’t have the interest to do so.
My step-son is also fairly mild. He enjoys some good game time, but doesn’t crave it and will ask if he can have time.
My son, Dexter, who is 6, is really attracted to gaming and electronics. We have gotten into it a couple of times when we are not on the same page. I am trying to make a habit of sitting down with him when he is asking for game time, and talk through what our plan is for the day. We will discuss our schedule and when it might be appropriate to have game time. I have found that taking a minute to do this with him, helps prepare him and prevents him from asking me over and over when and if he can have time. It also prevents him from taking advantage of the situation and either 1) expecting that it is normal and okay for him to do without permission or 2) that he can do it as much as he likes. For example, If we have to go grocery shopping after school and then we will be home for the rest of the evening, I might decide that his game time is in the cart at the grocery store. That way I can focus on shopping faster or shopping and dealing with my toddler, and he remains entertained and quiet. Yes, to all of you out there that think I’m a horrible mom, he has actually done the grocery shopping with me. But if I did that every time I needed to shop, let’s be honest! It would take 2 or 3 times as long!! The result of this example is that he knows that when he is home, it’s homework, reading, playing outside, Legos, whatever. But then he won’t ask me again and he will independently find something else to do.
One weekend, we had all the kids home with us. We didn’t have a lot of plans and it was cold outside. I wanted to think ahead and come up with a way to entertain the kids and keep them stimulated while also making sure not to indulge to heavily in the electronics.
My kids love to play spy’s. They will go upstairs and create this whole imaginary world and then quietly tip-toe down and “spy”on the adults (as they say). It’s pretty endearing really because they giggle and are so happy and they think they are being so sneaky, when in fact, (dare I say) they sorta stick out like a sore thumb!
I decided to make a SPY Certificate with 7 different activities that they had to “graduate” from in order to receive their certificate. The idea was to create a bunch of different activities (that would be pertinent to becoming a spy) that we could space out over the weekend and have a blast doing! This way, electronics would take a back seat and engaging my children would be front and center!
I’ve created a free printable at the bottom of this post for you to print, so keep reading… But here was my original that I created that weekend…
I did this “training” with my 10, 8, and 6 year old – all together. We had a blast! We sat down at the beginning of the weekend and made a plan of attack for how and when we would be able to accomplish all of our goals. Read on to get a description of each!
Precision & Focus: Bubblegum Blow
All you need is a pack of bubblegum. I bought a pack for each child. It is a little more exciting when you have the freedom to try piece after piece or put as much in as you want! It is not everyday that happens! The goal: Try and blow the biggest bubble possible. And if they don’t know how to blow bubbles, try and teach them! Regardless, it causes a lot of laughs and the littles will squeal trying to pop your bubble!
Creativity: Imagination Station
All you need is crayons, markers, any kind of drawing device and paper. I had plain paper and then I picked up some of the stenciled drawings where you color in the lines. During this activity – the coloring in drawings seemed to be more popular than the free hand. But every child is different! The point is just to create art! So do whatever your child loves to do… if it’s sculpting, then grab the play-dough! The goal: Create one finished piece of art.
Construction: Marshmallow Madness
What can a child’s mind create when given marshmallows and sticks? While it can get sticky, it is surprisingly pretty mess free. Give them the supplies and let them get to work! You can even set a timer if you want put a little spin on it. I provided my kids with little, regular, and jumbo size marshmallows, plus toothpicks and wooden skewer sticks. The goal: Create a marshmallow structure and describe it.
Brain Power: Book Fair
We should all be reading every day, right? So work this into the “game” and choose a good book, make a cozy spot and get busy! The goal: Read for at least 20 minutes.
Get outside and do something! Ride a bike, take a walk. Time the kids on how fast they can do sprints down to the end of the block and back. Don’t make them race, the little one always loses! But if outdoors is not an option, turn up the music and have a DANCE PARTY!! The goal: Shake your tail feather for at least 15 minutes to get your heart rate up!
Problem Solving: Puzzle Off
Here’s the thing about puzzles. I absolutely love them. They are like building Legos. It suites my fancy and I could do them for hours. My kids… Not so much. There was a little grunting when it came time to do this activity. But let me tell you… The more they do, the more they enjoy it! I went to the dollar store and picked up three puzzles that were appropriate for their ages. And in the evening, all three kids had a different spot in the living room, quietly working on their puzzles and Bleu and I rotated between, helping them out. The goal: Complete one puzzle.
Agility: Laser Obstacle
Okay, so this is the only game we had previously purchased that I incorporated into this weekend of events. If you want to see what game we own, click here and you get the idea. Really though, you could set up your own obstacle course. Crawling under tables, over pillows, inside of a fort, outside to touch the mailbox and back. If you need help with obstacle ideas, please comment below and I promise to reply and send you some great ideas. The goal: Create an obstacle and successfully complete the mission (timed or not).
So we turned the electronics off and went on our way to becoming true spies! Download this free printable and get started on yours! HAVE FUN!!!
Here is a list of items you need to pull this off. And really, this wasn’t too expensive at all! This is taking into account you use whatever you have at hand ( a bike or music) to complete your “Stamina” task and you can get creative or email me for obstacle ideas. Moderate as needed!
A pack of bubblegum. I would go with Hubba Bubba.
Crayons, markers, pastels (any kind of drawing device)
Marshmallows (small, regular, and jumbo)
I hope you try this out and have a fantastic time connecting with your kids! While electronics can be fun and valuable, go ahead and set them down and have some fun! I would love to hear if anyone gives this a shot!
Cheers! And until next time,