Screen Free Time: Activities, Tips & Inspiration

Screen Free Family

Why Screen Free Time?

Becoming a mother seems to have successfully brought out every ounce of guilt that’s in my pores.

Do you feel the same?  It’s like no matter what…..BOOM, there’s the guilt, lurking around every corner just waiting for me.

I banned the word “busy” from my vocabulary and spent the past few years simplifying our lives, and I feel like things are so. much. better.

but there were still a lot of days when I wasn’t taking the time to CONNECT with my children.  
I felt like I wasn’t getting that QUALITY time with them (especially on weeknights).

Evening hours with my family are SUPER important to me, but, they are also my HARDEST time of day.
In addition to everyone being tired after a long day, my husband and I are also attempting to prepare a healthy meal and all sit down at the table together.

There’s A Time For Screens 

Screens play a really important role in our world.  I believe there are many benefits of using screens, such as:

  • helping with homework (games and apps for math, science and reading)
  • learning about the world
  • staying connected with family and friends

However I feel that balance and moderation are the keys to success with screens and screen time in general.  Not just for my children but also for MYSELF (and changing our own habits is always the hardest part, right?)

Screen Free Time Is For The Whole Family

I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired, I find it so hard to be creative, and it’s so easy to just go the simple route and turn on the TV for the kids, or mindlessly stare at the glowing screen on my phone, because then I don’t have to think….or do….or feel.

It’s EASY, but most of the time it doesn’t FEEL right, and out creeps that guilt again.

So, I came up with a plan.

I decided that the solution is to make screen free time easy for myself and my family and turn screen free time into a routine.  No thinking.  Very little preparation.

We have chosen to have screen free time in the afternoons when we get home (I have lots of activity suggestions below), and also plan special “screen free days” on the weekend (about once a month or so) where we can focus on spending time together as a family.

Watch Alison’s 4 Tips for Screen Free Time For The Whole Family

Planning Your Screen Free Time: Summary

1. Put It In The Calendar
Having set times for screen free activities helps makes it easier to follow-through and be consistent with your screen-free schedule.

2. Prepare Your Children In Advance

Talking about your screen free time in advance can really help your children be prepared and prevent negative attitude around screen free activities. I prep my 7 and 3 year old to know when screens will and won’t be allowed.

3. Make A Plan

Make screen free time FUN! Plan fun activities and things to do together as a family.  See some of my suggestions below.

4. Tell Important People About Your Screen Free Time

I encourage everyone in the family to be screen free and that includes phones.  If there are people who might be trying to reach you during your family time, it’s a great idea to let them know in advance “hey, I won’t have my phone nearby on Sundays because it’s family time…if you need to reach me in an emergency, do X”

Screen Free Time For Kids: Activity Ideas

  1. Go for a Family Walk or Hike – My children LOVE exploring.  It’s so easy, and doesn’t cost a thing.  Find some nature near you and explore.  I am always amazed at how much learning my daughter does while we are hiking (leadership, safety, counting, observing, wellness and more!)
  2. Build Together with Legos or Blocks
  3. Play Board Games – some family-recommended games for younger children include Trouble, Uni, Connect 4, and Guess Who.
  4. Do Age-Appropriate Puzzles Together
  5. Go To The Playground or a nearby Park
  6. Build A Fort
  7. Try A Science Experiment
  8. Go To The Library – bonus, find out if your local library has a free storytime.  We love going to our local library
  9. Make homemade cards or write a kindness note
  10. Bake or cook together – even really young children love to be “kitchen helpers”
  11. Visit friends
  12. Make your own play dough
  13. Play dress up and use your imagination
  14. Make puppets or shadow puppets
  15. Make a collaborative family painting – have everyone paint on the same piece of paper or canvas
  16. Read together
  17. Paint Faces
  18. Look at Family Photos Together – my children love to look at our photo albums and at their baby pictures
  19. Help Out Around the House – my 3 year old loves helping with laundry and my 7 year old loves helping with cleaning (squirt/spray bottle fun), if they ENJOY doing tasks, let them help!
  20. Have a fancy tea party
  21. Make a Craft
  22. Plant Some Seeds
  23. Take Silly Photos of Each Other
  24. Go To Your Local Farmer’s Market
  25. Build Something From A Cardboard Box – use your imagination – a house, a car, a spaceship – the sky is the limit!

Screen Free Time Tools & Resources

I created Petit Mail story postcards as a way to slow down, take a breath and create those quality moments with my child that I felt I was missing. It’s a simple and fun way to start focusing on screen free time with your preschooler.

Listen to Alison’s interview on the Raiseology Podcast with Dr. Sharon Somekh.

Do you have a hard time thinking of activities for screen-free time like we do? Tune into this episode of the Raiseology Podcast to hear Sharon interview Alison Butler on her trick to make screen-free time SIMPLE. We know that this tip will work even on those tired days when it would be easier to just turn the TV on.

Book:  The Joy of Missing Out by Christina Crook

Screen Free Time