In this increasingly digital world, it is not uncommon these days to see kids sitting on their Ipads at a café, watching an Iphone, and in front of the TV and computer playing video games…..
As parents, technology is a great babysitter guaranteeing hours of quiet time, however the long terms effect of this screen time is proving to be not so good.
‘Technology is not a drug, but it might as well be. It works the same way…… it has the same results.”- Robert Lustig, Professor of Paediatrics University of California.
Research has shown that screen time interferes with fundamental factors in healthy child development: sleep, healthy eating, exercise, conversation and social skills.
While it is unrealistic to eliminate technology completely from our lives, we must be conscious of introducing balance. Think about some of your best childhood memories….. I guarantee they involved being outside, playing in the street with others, exploring. Children are naturally curious and seek engagement- getting outside WITH your child is the perfect way to fulfil both these needs. Here are 5 examples of activities you can do together:
Plant a garden/vegetable patch
This is a great way to get the kids involved in a whole process….. take them to a nursery, look at the seedlings, discuss which will grow well at that time of year and why, choose some and then get planting! They will get so much satisfaction from watching the fruits of their labour come to life, and learn a lot in the process about how to take responsibility for nurturing a process.
Rug up and get wet
There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! Kids love jumping in muddy puddles and playing in the rain if they are warm and waterproof- and so will you! Get out of the stuffy heating and go see how fun the outdoors can be if you can’t feel the cold.
This could be in your backyard or at a nearby park. Take a rug, bring the teddies/a ball/ frisbee…. Feed the birds! Kids love nothing more than the novelty of setting up a picnic. Delegate some jobs and watch the teamwork between you unfold.
An excellent way to get kids outdoors is to make a big game of it…. All kids have a competitive streak and love the thrill of looking/exploring/finding. Write a list of 10 things they must find and if they get them all in a certain time frame they win a prize.
Get on your bikes and explore along a bike path. Take a backpack with some snacks and stop at a park/beach along the way. Choose your new destination together, sit down when you get home and ask them to draw a picture of stuff they saw on their ride.