I’ve got exciting news for you today. After a bit of a hiatus in 2018, I’m thrilled to announce our Real Talk with Real Moms series is back! While I don’t talk about my tiny human around here that much – I find we can always talk about parenthood! And as I focus more and more on taking a very intentional approach to life, I feel like there’s no better time to trade as many tips and ideas as we can.
So over the course of 2019 I, along with a bevy of other powerhouse blogger mamas, will be diving back into topics that we suspect plague all you parents out there. Today we’re talking the ever-controversial screen time, but also play ideas.
We actually tackled the technology topic about a year and a half ago. As we approach my kiddo’s fourth birthday (how is that possible???), I’m pleased to report we remain a screen-free household. Call me crazy, but I remain firmly against screen time for young kids. That means we still do zero TV, no iPad games, no time playing with a phone. And I swear, it’s really not that hard.
Well ok, it’s a little hard. Plane flights aren’t my favorite. We don’t brave extended road trips. I have to do some major parental backflips to keep a pre-schooler engaged while trying to get dinner on the table. Yes, it is a bit harder on me. But I still firmly believe it is so much better for him.
I talked about this previously, but in case you missed it, you should know that studies have proven that technology screws with our brains – but particularly the brains of children. There is article after article after terrifying article about tech’s detrimental effects. I’m sure you’ve read many of them. If not, click on one like this. Even tech executives are severely limiting or straight up eliminating their kids’ screen time.
Of course as my son has aged I’ve allowed the occasional exception to our zero-screen-time rule. A quick animal YouTube video here. Katelyn Ohashi’s perfect 10 floor routine there. Yes, we FaceTime with the grandparents. I’m not a barbarian. And don’t get me wrong. Of course I’m excited for him to experience Mr. Rogers. I can’t wait to have Friday family movie nights. But in due time.
The unintended consequence of limiting my son’s screen time has been the dramatic decrease in my own. Where TV used to be a big part of my world, I now only turn it on to binge the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I recognize my own phone addiction and am doing more to mitigate it (do you check your usage stats?? They can be scary).
Now onto play ideas. I wish I could say I have some magic tricks in my bag, but I’m not the Martha Stewart of playtime. A lot of construction gets played. Lots of trains. Lots of art time. We just started board games. We turn a lot of home maintenance into “projects” and give him the opportunity to use a drill, a hammer or a KitchenAide mixer. We go outside. A lot.
One thing I’ve found that really helps keep things fresh is cycling toys. Put things away for a while. A month at least and then suddenly bring those toys back out and it’s like a whole new thing again.
Never underestimate how much fun you can have with a ball.
And then there’s “What’s on My Butt.” I can’t take credit for this. I heard about it from the podcast The Longest Shortest Time. This for the end of the day, I’ve got 30 minutes left before bedtime and I’m running on fumes time. You literally lay on your stomach, have your kid grab a household item and place it on your butt and you have to guess what it is. Just make sure they have to put it back! Bonus points if you can play with glass of wine in hand.
If you have any favorite activities for the 3-4 year old set, I’d love love love to hear your favorite ideas. For the rest of the mamas’ takes, click the links below!
The Effortless Chic || Studio DIY || Natalie Borton || The Life Styled || A Daily Something
For the entire Real Talk, Real Moms archive, CLICK HERE. I hope you’re excited as we are it’s back.
images via anna truelsen, maison pomme frite and anna landstedt
What do you think?
Zingo is a winner in our household. My now 5 year old and I have enjoyed evening games for a couple years and even my 2+ year old can participate now. Another favorite is just having them run around and touch things around the house. “touch the front door” “now touch your bed pillow” “go touch the fridge”. They just run around the house and get the wiggles out.
Ok, looking up Zinogo immediately. And I love the run and go touch things idea!
We just started a few months ago to do little or no screen time. We let them watch maybe one or two shows on the weekend. The result is amazing – our kids, especially the older one is literally more relaxed, less crazy, can concentrate longer etc etc. we love doing preschool books after dinner and lots or outdoor time especially on the weekend!
We limit screen time at home (a little TV while I make dinner, a couple fun videos here and there), and definitely come off as weirdos to some families we’ve met. That said, I feel like I can see a big difference in concentration ability versus classmates with lots of access to tablets and video games.
Anyway, I’m confident you can do a long-distance trip with minimal stress (it’s easier than the plane, really). We’ve driven cross-country with no screens a couple of times and it’s totally doable. We get a bunch of kids audio books from the library to download in advance. For age 3+ we’ve loved short stories like Frog and Toad, Owl at Home, or Beatrix Potter. For age 4+, we’ve added Roald Dahl, especially The Enormous Crocodile, The Magic Finger, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Professional story tellers like Bill Harley (Monsters in the Bathroom) are another big hit with the kids. These are all adult-friendly selections, most importantly!
The kids pack their own backpacks for the trip and I always have special travel-only snacks (treats they don’t normally get, like gum) and a bag with gift-wrapped surprises to break out when things start to go bad (maze books, picture books, little toys, etc.). It gets easier as they get older, I find, as they can finally count trucks or look for license plates. At rest stops I make the kids run as much as possible.
For air travel, now that they’re older, I give in and let them have ridiculous amounts of gum, cookies, and movies on my phone (super special treats!). It’s so stressful dealing with TSA, arriving on time at 6am, schedule changes, keeping everyone quiet and from kicking seats that I feel like I’ve earned a little time to read a book, lol.
We eliminated the tablet (save for a long car ride or two) a few months ago and noticed a considerable difference in our 4 yr old’s behavior. He’d have access for an hour after school so we all could decompress after work, and then maybe 2 hrs on each weekend day, which I thought was modest but then the tablet became the End All, Be All and he’d lose it when we told him time was up. Since then, he actually plays with his toys, reads more books, does more puzzles — it’s wonderful. He rarely asks for it now. He might get a 30 min show on the regular TV after school sometimes but even then, he maintains calm when we turn it off. Added bonus is he’s not watching stuff above his age range and reciting things he probably shouldn’t as a 4 yr old.
ALSO! Card games like Go Fish, Old Maid, War, a memory/matching game, and board games like Bingo, Monopoly Jr (which he loves) have been a new fun activity for us.