Play Time Before Screen Time

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There’s no denying that technology and screens are a part of everyone’s life today. I know that in my house, we’ve struggled to find a healthy balance of screen time and activity.

By implementing play time = screen time, I feel like I’m finally breaking through and regaining control. Until recently, I felt like I was constantly saying that it was time to shut down the TV, computer, or the Kindle and do something else, sound familiar?

Kids are meant to spend a lot of time running and playing, and not meant to spend too much time sitting.  Movement and activity is necessary for their growing bodies. The following is a list of some reasons why it is so important that they play every day:

Why Play is Important

  • Builds strong muscles
  • Establishes strong bones
  • Creates a healthy heart
  • Boosts their immune system
  • Keeps them lean
  • Improves coordination
  • Boosts mood
  • Curbs the appetite
  • Prevents constipation
  • Improves sleep

Tips for making Play happen 

  1. First and probably most important, is to set a rule that, play time happens before screen time! For every minute they play, they can have equal time in front of a screen. 
  2. Be a good example.  Active parents have active kids.  Let them know that you enjoy working out and exercising, and limit your own screen time.  I know that time is limited, but try to find time to do what you like to do to be active. It doesn’t have to be going to a gym, it could be going for a walk every day after work, joining a running group, yoga, or my personal favorite – playing tennis in a league (check out https://tennislink.usta.com/leagues to find a local team to join, I promise there are leagues for all levels). 
  3. Play as a Family.  When you play together as a family, you are creating lasting memories for your children.  Choose hobbies that everyone enjoys, like bike rides, family walks (do some treasure hunting), games in the backyard or going to the park.  For other ways to spend time together as a family check out my Family Time post: https://www.metronomewellness.com/motherhood/family-time/

What about when the weather is cold and wet?

I realize that this time of year it can be tough in some parts of the country for kids to play outside due to the weather, so here are some fun ideas that kids can do INSIDE the house:

Indoor Play Ideas

  • Twister – an oldie but a goodie, who doesn’t like twister?
  • Dance – (one of our favorites) turn up the tunes and get down!
  • Balloon toss with or without fly swatters, use the swatters to hit the balloon back and forth.  Try to see how long you can go before the balloon touches the ground.
  • Indoor Basketball, with a mini over-the-door hoop.  If you have a ball player in your family and don’t have one of these, you must get one.  My son will come out of his room a sweaty mess after an intense, imaginary game of mini basketball.
  • Indoor beachball soccer.  You’ll need a little space for this one.  Use a couple of cardboard boxes or laundry baskets as goals.
  • Beachball bowling.  Fill empty liter bottles ¼ full with water, dried beans, or sand and use them as bowling pins.
  • Yoga. Have a little mini yoga session with your kids.  We have this yogaspin game, that is lots of fun, and a good way to avoid screens.
  • Have a fitness contest – see who can do the most push-ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, squats, etc.
  • Try an activity video on YouTube.  The only thing I don’t like about this, is that they are still looking at a screen, but if it gets them moving, then go with it! (my kids like GoNoodle).
  • Indoor obstacle course.  Make a tunnel out of blankets and chairs, hop over a step stool, weave around pillows on the ground, use your imaginations to make a fun and challenging course.
  • Play in the garage if possible, (dribble a basketball, jump rope, kick a soccer ball against the wall, hit a tennis ball against the wall – take caution if anyone else is around!)

Make it a priority to encourage your kids to play, EVERY DAY!  Teach them to feel the difference in their energy levels and moods before and after.  By incorporating some of these fun activities, and setting screen time limits, my hope is that they will create healthy habits that will last a lifetime!

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