This post is by editor Kara Fleck.
Next week is Screen-Free week. The purpose of the week is to encourage families to turn off the tv, unplug, and spend the week “free” of the screens in their lives.
Turn off your TV April 18 – 24th
From the Screen-Free Week website:
“Screen-Free Week is a national celebration where children, families, schools, and communities spend seven days turning off entertainment screen media and turning on life. It’s a time to unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore, and spend more time with family and friends.”
Aside from football season and IndyCar, and my love of watching Bones and Project Runway on Hulu, the TV isn’t a main source of entertainment for the adults in our house and so it isn’t for the kids.
But, as I admitted on Rockin’ Granola this week, computer screen time and cell phone screen time are both things I could probably stand to give myself a more restrictive diet of. Ahem. (I was going to call this a side effect of being a blogger, but I have to admit that would just be making an excuse.)
I’ll be honest, even though we talk about it ahead of time and with the limited amount of television we watch to begin with, my family isn’t always exactly thrilled at the start of the week. But by the end of the week, we’re glad that we took some time to be together and unplug from the television set this way.
20 Alternatives to Television
Here are a few tips and suggestions for turning the TV off next week. Even if you don’t go “cold turkey” I would encourage you to at least keep the television set off in the evenings and spend that time together as a family.
1. Take a Walk When we first started cutting back on the amount of television we watched as a family, taking an after-dinner walk was a helpful step for us. Instead of flipping on the set to catch the news, which then led to the evening sitcoms, we kept the television off after dinner and took a family walk instead.
2. Clean Up and Declutter Yes, doing household chores is not the most fun and cleaning isn’t going to top anybody’s list of exciting things to do. However, you’ve got to tidy up anyway and even mundane chores are more fun when done together. Just think how neat and organized your home could be after a week spent together decluttering if everyone chipped in and did it together.
3. Make Bracelets. Craft Hope has announced their newest project. Project 12 is an Orphan Outreach project and this time Craft Hope is asking crafters to make handmade bracelets. They can be woven, hemp, beaded, or fabric, as long as they are handmade. Go to the Craft Hope site for more details, gather your supplies, and then spend some time next week creating bracelets for a good cause.
4.Hang Up a Bird Feeder Our window bird feeder has become one of the highlights of our Spring so far. The birds actually come and eat breakfast with us, right outside the window in our dining room. We purchased our bird feeder, but you could certainly make a bird feeder, too. Go to your local library and pick up a bird identification bird and learn about your feathered neighbors.
5. Speaking of the local library … Have a Family Read-a-Loud Why not pick a book and spend the evenings taking turns reading it out loud to each other?
6. Shake things up in the kitchen Learn some new recipes, try some new to your family cuisines, make something from scratch you might not have considered before (what about graham crackers and marshmallows?) Try out some ice cream recipes and come up with a signature family flavor. Make next week the week you ramp up your culinary skills and play in the kitchen.
7. Look Up Become star gazers for a week. Observe a week’s worth of sunsets. See what you notice about the weather without the local TV weatherman filling you in.
8. Create a large piece of art together as a family This is something that has been on my personal bucket list for a while now. Perhaps next week will be the week we create that giant family painting I’ve been dreaming of?
9. Grow Something How are those Spring gardening plans coming along? Start some seeds together or purchase a few new houseplants and spend some time learning about them. Start a container garden on your kitchen window sill or plant some some culinary herbs for your kitchen adventures (see idea number six).
10. Board Games When was the last time you played monopoly? Checkers? Or Apples to Apples?
11. Paper Games Tic tac toe, hangman, crossword puzzles, word searches are all favorites. Head here for a few more ideas.
12. Do some dandelion painting These yellow flowers with the bad reputation have been popping up all over my neighborhood. If they are invading your area, too, why not turn them into some art?
13. Jigsaw puzzles They come in a variety of themes and levels of difficulty, so you can really cater to your individual family. Get out the card table and work some puzzles together.
14. Family Lego Creation contest Assign a theme to each day and see who can come up with the most creative invention. Head over to the Lego Quest blog for some ideas to get you started.
15. Explore your neighborhood. Become a local tourist. Go into that little shop or cafe you’ve been meaning to step into every time you pass by. Learn the names of those trees that line main street. Visit your town’s museum.
16. Have picnic In the park, in your backyard, or on your living room floor.
17. Look through family photo albums
18. Make a sock puppet for each member of your family This one has some hilarious potential, don’t you think? And, you will make good use of those solo socks that have been hanging around your laundry room.
19. Go See the Game One of the things I loved that Dr. Thomas Cooper suggested during this past week’s Feed.Play.Love. session on kids and media was to go SEE the game instead of watching it on television. Get out there and DO stuff together!
20. Call Grandma and Grandpa or Great Aunt Ester. Even better, if it is possible, go visit them. They would love it and how many times have you been telling yourself that you’ve been meaning to drop in on them anyway? This is the perfect week to do it. Make a phone call, bring them a meal, and enjoy each others company.
- Megan’s post at Simple Organic on Resources to Inspire Your Screen-Free Week
- Screen Free Week official website
- Frugal Family Fun – one of my favorite blogs for inexpensive family-friendly fun
- Get fit! Visit Fit Family Together for some inspiration
Even if going TV-Free doesn’t become a habit, perhaps you could make this week the start of an annual family TV turn off tradition? Have a great time!
Will you be going TV-free next week? Or, if you are already a TV-free family on a permanent basis, I’d love to hear your tips about how you transitioned to becoming a TV-free family and I’m sure other readers would, too. Here’s to unplugging!