7 Ways to Unwind and Connect with Your Kids–Without Screens
By Andrea Marks
Has it been a long day? Have your co-workers been out-of-this-world annoying, your boss completely misunderstanding, and you can’t seem to get one thing to go your way? Perfect! Now it’s time to go home where your kids will need your full attention!
This scenario doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, it’s important to find a way to destress while also being an involved parent. Your first instinct might be to hand your kids a tablet and go straight to the TV or Facebook. But you know the consequences to this aren’t worth it, and with too much tech, your kids tend to get whiny, uncooperative, or worse.
While it can be tempting to just let technology entertain your kids, you’re hopefully already trying to get your kids to take a break from too much technology. Let us help with a few useful solutions for this dilemma.
Here are 7 alternatives to heading straight for screens after a rough day:
- Have an afternoon (or evening tea)
- Establish the routine of sitting down to a cup of tea after work with your kids. You could talk about your day, tell them your plans for the next day, or share funny stories.
- Go on a walk
- A walk isn’t going to the gym and doing an entire workout, but it is relaxing and gets you outside. Even if it is just to the end of the street and back, your kids can expend a lot of energy running ahead and running back. Aerobic activities help children focus more and be less impulsive (Dewar, 2016). Just think how tired and ready they’ll be for bedtime!
- Set a timer for personal time
- With kids who constantly demand focused attention, you could set a timer. After you get home from work, tell them in 30 minutes you’ll spend time with them. You could use that 30 minutes to decompress in your room, scream into your pillow, or take a quick nap.
- Share a hobby
- This could be putting a puzzle together, fixing up a car, playing a card game, going to the gym, or hiking. Any hobby you enjoy can be shared. It might require more patience on your part, but before long you will have created a special bond with your kids in a way unique to you.
- Read Together
- According to the American Time Use Survey of 2017, parents only read to their children for an average of three minutes per day (Average Hours, 2017). We spend longer in the bathroom. One of the greatest memories of my childhood is my father reading to us. He would do funny voices, and we would talk about how the book made us feel. Studies show reading with your kids can actually improve their cognitive, emotional, and social development (Klass, 2018).
- Cook or Bake With Your Kids
- Time spent together cooking can help you bond and accomplish something you already were planning to do anyway. Also, the sooner kids learn to cook, the faster they can have dinner ready for you when you come home!
- Quiet Time
- Your kids have probably had a long day too! After school they were rushed straight to soccer practice, barely made it in time for piano lessons, and have been doing their homework for an hour. Kids need to destress just as much as parents do (Hong, 2012). Each kid relaxes in different ways. Find out how your child likes to relax without screens (coloring, reading, playing outside), and help them make time for this.
While it’s tempting to just plop down in front of the TV or get lost in the world on your phone when you’re tired from a long day, your kids need you. Help them avoid distracted living by being an example. Get to know each of your children better and understand their world.
Need fun, simple ideas to spend meaningful time with your kids? Check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child. A few minutes each day will change their lives! Choosing to connect with your children after work can be tough, but they will remember it for years to come.
Andrea Marks is earning her degree in Family Life Studies. Andrea is an avid reader with a love of the outdoors. She hopes to one day work with children in crisis. She believes the way to change the world is in the home.
America After 3PM Infographics. (2014). Retrieved November 17, 2018, from http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM/infographics.cfm
Average hours per day parents spent caring for and helping household children as their main activity. (2017). Retrieved November 17, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/charts/american-time-use/activity-by-parent.htm
Dewar, G. (2018). Parenting Science – The science of child-rearing and child development. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from http://www.parentingscience.com/
Hong, C. (2012, October 28). Kids need time to relax. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/kids-need-time-to-relax-1.1391013
Klass, P. (2018, April 16). Reading Aloud to Young Children Has Benefits for Behavior and Attention. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/well/family/reading-aloud-to-young-children-has-benefits-for-behavior-and-attention.html