The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.
This 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.
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.”
My family isn’t a TV-free household, and I don’t want to give that impression, especially as we do have a family ritual of having a Friday Night Nest and watching a movie together every week, after all. However, we do limit the television we watch, especially for the kids.
Aside from football season and IndyCar, and my love of watching Once Upon a Time and Bones, the TV isn’t a main source of entertainment for the adults in our house and so therefore it isn’t for the kids.
But, 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.)
This week, I challenge you to consider covering up the TV, or even moving it to another part of the house (can it live in the garage until the end of the week?) and unplugging for a week. Can you do it?
I’ll be honest, even though we talk about it ahead of time, my family isn’t exactly thrilled at the start of the week. If your family is like mine, they might need a bit of coaxing to accept the idea.
Alternatives to Television
Here are a few tips and suggestions for turning the TV off this week. Even if you don’t go “cold turkey” from all screens, I would encourage you to at least keep the television set off in the evenings and spend that time together as a family.
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.
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 if everyone chipped in and did it together.
Our window bird feeder is one of the highlights of our Spring. 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.
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?
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 (head over to Simple Bites for some inspiration). Try out some ice cream recipes and come up with a signature family flavor.
Jigsaw puzzles come in a variety of themes and levels of difficulty, so you can really cater to your individual family members. Get out the card table and work on some puzzles together. Maybe you could stage a Family Lego Creation contest? Assign a theme to each day and see who can come up with the most creative invention.
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. Have picnic in the park, in your backyard, or on your living room floor.
Set up some playscapes for your younger children to inspire play. Create a scene with their dolls or blocks or other toys before you go to bed so that they have something to catch their interest and inspire creative play the next morning (a time when many parents, including myself, can be tempted to turn on the television).
Get outside. Take a walk, play in the backyard, go to the park, or take a bike ride. Remove yourselves from the temptation of the television by going somewhere else.
If the weather won’t cooperate with outdoor play (and I’ll admit that right now our midwestern forecast leaves a little to be desired) consider visiting the library, children’s museum, or that kid-friendly cafe you’ve been wanting to try.
Take a trip to the art supply store and pick out materials for a family art project that you can work on the rest of the week together. Or, recycle some items from around the house and create some free and eco-friendly art as a family.
Need more help?
- 20 Indoor Activities for Kids ::: Simple Mom
- Creative Pretend Play Props and Ideas ::: Simple Kids
- Host an Outdoor Art Group ::: Simple Kids
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 this 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!