My son wakes up in the morning groggy, binky in his mouth, blanket in hand. The first thing he asks me is, “Can we watch Roman’s show, Mommy?” TV. That’s the first thing on this kid’s mind when he wakes up. The battle against screen time has begun. In a previous post, I talked about the effects of too much screen time and how spending unplugged quality time with your kids is so vital in their development.
Unplugged Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Because of the nap time thing, (My kids sleep for about 2 hours every afternoon, and my daughter sometimes needs an additional hour in the morning.) I really hate spending money on admission. We have a Children’s Museum near us and I love it. It is interactive and educational, really geared toward young children. But it costs $12 in admission for my son and I (my daughter is free), and between naps we can only ever go for a few hours.Trying to find unplugged activities has its struggles:
We have to plan around nap time.
My kids aren’t familiar with the concept of inside voices.
They are pretty much destruction on wheels.
Visit the Library
The public library is free!!! Thank you, America! Books, and movies, and music! Our library even has a telescope you can rent out!
When I take my kids to the library, my kids’ favorite part is the train track table. My son could spend hours building and rebuilding his own town out of train track pieces. There are also puzzles, board games, sensory toys, coloring pages. In addition, the library has a calendar of events and activities for babies through teenagers. All free.
CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY –>https://librarytechnology.org/libraries/uspublic/
Take a Hike
It’s not quite winter yet. Right now, northwest Ohio is a windy 55 degrees. The nights are cold, but the warm part of the day is the perfect weather for taking a family walk. My kiddos love to explore the great outdoors. I take them to a number of local parks and nature preserves and let them roam free. My son loves to pick up acorns and super cool rocks. My daughter loves to have wide open space; she just runs as fast as she can.
CLICK HERE TO FIND A PLACE TO HIKE NEAR YOU–> https://www.alltrails.com/
Food is my love language. Seriously, the way to my heart is through a really good taco. Sharing meals has always been a way for families to connect. Creating delicious food from scratch is a way that generations pass down their ways and traditions to their children. My son loves to be, “my good helper.” Cooking together let’s him create something he can share with those he loves and gives him something to be proud of.
He loves to bake cookies and cakes. Recently, I shared with him a family recipe for Chapatis, an Indian flatbread that my mother taught me how to make as a child. Today, we are making personal pizzas for dinner.
CLICK HERE TO BUY A COPY OF “THE COOKING WITH KIDS COOKBOOK” –> https://amzn.to/2Cf91A2
Have a Camp Out!
Get out your tent and set that baby up in your back yard! There is a magic that happens when kids sleep beneath the stars. Getting to stay up past bed time, sleeping in a sleeping bag, making s’mores over a fire. These are all things that little ones will be over the moon about.
If you think that your child is too young to have an actual back yard camp out, adjust it. Start with building a fort in the living room, move on to a back yard bonfire, and work your way up to sleeping in a tent. I promise they will love it and you will officially be the coolest mom ever.
Make an Art Project
This one feels a little Parenting 101 to me. Kids like to color and paint, right? And in my house, that’s usually all I do. But once in a while, I like to go all out, and actually do one of those creative Pinterest crafts I have had pinned for years.
Since my kids are so small, I am selective with the projects we do. I do any cutting with scissors ahead of time and gather all the supplies to make it simple and straight forward for them. We don’t do any projects that will require more than twenty minutes or so of their attention. And we do craft day and bath day on the same day because it is likely the kids will get messy.
Workout or Dance Together
This is one of my favorite unplugged activities to do with my children. We crank up our favorite songs on the speaker and have crazy dance parties. My kids love Raffi and any songs from their favorite movies and TV shows.
During the week I babysit, and when I have a house hold of kiddos, sometimes we do a kid friendly workout to get their sillies out.
Here is the workout we do together –> https://motherhood-made-simple.com/workout-kids/
Explore Your Community
One of my favorite features of social media is how it connects communities to the local events and culture in a given area. Connect with a group like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) , connect with parents at your church, or join a community based Facebook group. Check out local events and group gatherings geared toward young children.
I really depend on the activities in my community as a source of unplugged activities for my family. Some of our favorites include agricultural fairs, art fairs, carnivals, public concerts, and public play dates.
When you run out of ideas, or money, or the weather is just too awful to leave the house, you can always go back to the natural way children play – pretend! Let your children take the reigns on this one and see what they come up with. Getting on the floor and really playing with your kids has no substitute. This time in their lives goes so quickly and the beautiful creativity of their little minds is an amazing thing to witness. Take time to engage with them and you are sure to benefit even more than they do.