We've all heard the buzz about the toll that too much screen time takes on children's physical, social and academic development. But while it's easy for experts to say "limit screen time," it's harder to come up with affordable replacement activities, especially on lazy holidays away from school. We're here to help with a few of the best ideas for families on a budget.
Get Their Energy Out(side)
Encourage physical activity by kicking them out! Have them take your dog for a walk (or borrow someone else's) or teach your pet a trick. Go for a family hike or play a game of catch, even in the snow. Have them build a backyard obstacle course and hold time trials. Host a dance party (perhaps introduce them to some of the music you listened to at their age). Visit friends, neighbours or family.
Engage Their Brains
One of the best places to go with your kids is your local library. In addition to housing actual books, they typically hold great free programs for children (and adults). Turn your kitchen into a home laboratory and create some cool science experiments. Invent a secret code. Fill a time capsule. Build a card house. Check for free admission days at local museums and attractions. Encourage them to take a cooking class or pick up a new skill such as origami, painting or playing an instrument. Check out your local community theatre, where they can get involved or see a show without breaking the bank. Haul out old family photo albums. Visit a friend or family member with a special talent, hobby or interesting job.
Change the World
Volunteer as a family at your local humane society, food bank, senior's centre or other worthy organization. Collect donations of clothing, small appliances or household items to give to a charity thrift store. Introduce them to performing random acts of kindness. Have them write a letter to your local newspaper or government representative about an issue that matters to them.
Get them to clean their room (gasp!) or the pantry, fridge, drawers and closets. Have them help with chores ranging from matching socks to washing baseboards. Look for lost change in the couch. Sort and donate old toys. Have them help plan this year's garden.
Pit Them against Each Other
(Not really. But kind of.) Crack out classic board games and challenges and expand games into tournaments. Encourage them to make a trophy or medals to hand out. Remember all those unplugged games you used to enjoy? Chances are they'll like them too. Make paper airplanes, play ping pong, have a family game night with charades or bingo, play hangman, have scavenger hunts, or hide and seek … and the list goes on.
Let these ideas inspire you and your children during your spring break, and you'll have no problem keeping them from going stir-crazy without relying on TV or devices, and without breaking the bank.
Find more entertaining ideas to thrill your kids on the cheap.