Keep the Kids Busy without Television

So what are you going to do if you once you turn off the television?

First enter to win the Subway P.E.P. kit. 🙂

Go outside. There are so many things to do outside with your kids, sidewalk chalk, play catch, ride bikes, scooters, roller blade, walk, hike, explore, go to the park, look for bugs, sandbox, water table, sprinkler…

If the weather is still crummy there are many inside activities to replace television. Play a game, read a book, get out the puzzles, build with blocks or legos, play dolls. Have an indoor picnic, or tea party.

Crafts are also fun. Take a risk and get out the play dough. Even better make your own play dough. Stickers, colored pencils, construction paper and scissors (if they are old enough) can keep kids busy for hours. You can even use old shoe boxes to create miniature scenes from their favorite book.

One way I am able to fit in blogging, paying bills, writing emails, and other household admin tasks is to work along side my kids. Last year I wrote about some of our favorite table top toys that help keep my little children busy while I work.

I realize that many moms use the television to babysit their children while they do important things like take a shower or make dinner. I’ve been there, done that. Sometimes, especially with active little ones, television seems to be the only thing to keep them mesmerized while you get something done. I would encourage you to involve your kids, even the little ones, in your meal prep. They can help set the table, mix food together, and do other small jobs. Something I would do with one particularly active child was to fill up the kitchen sink with water and bubbles and let him play with a few of his toys in the water while I made dinner. He made a mess, but it was easy to clean up and he stayed occupied and in my line of sight.

As for getting that ever elusive shower, from the time my children were very little we encouraged room or crib time. We would put the kids in their room or cribs with a few safe toys and then leave them alone. We even put on “room time” music. This let our children know it wasn’t nap time, just time for them to stay in their rooms and play by themselves. When they got a bit older we would sometimes put on an audio book for them to listen to while they played in their room. The key to this technique is to make sure the rooms are kid friendly. If there are things your child could get hurt on in their room this is not a good idea. I found that if we started this when they were young (a few months old) by the time they were three or four years old they really enjoyed their room time. Usually we have special toys that only come out during room time as well.

We did put up a safety gate to keep a few children in their rooms during room time. This was more for their protection and to keep them from running around the house, or possibly outside while I was in the shower and couldn’t hear what was going on.

Turning off the television definitely takes extra effort on the part of the parent. It means getting organized and planning activities to keep your kids busy throughout the day. As with everything in life the best things are usually the hardest things. It might be hard to limit the television at first, but you will definitely reap the rewards.

Check back tomorrow for some ideas on what you can do with your no TV time, plus a giveaway!


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  1. This is a on little different vein, but every once in a while we have a tv-free week (my kids are a little older). You remind me that it’s about time for another one!

  2. I’ve been seriously thinking about how to reduce my little one’s tv time. Thanks for the thoughtful tips.

  3. When we moved in January we couldn’t get cable. Talk about re-discovering other ways to entertain ourselves.
    I actually spend time cleaning our home, cooking, exercising, talking with each other, etc.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Right on! Great idea on “room time”–the shower is my last tv holdout.

  5. Thanks for the excellent tips! I really like the idea of “room time” and the “playing-in-the-sink-while-mama-makes-dinner” is a fun idea too.

    You’re right when you say, “the best things in life are usually the hardest things.” But taking the time to be creative and limit or eliminate television is so worth it…

  6. Thank you for posting this. I think it’s super when we don’t watch tv. 🙂 In fact, my parents took away our tv when I was 5 years old, and I have never had one since. I love it!! Though sometimes I do feel like I live in another planet because I don’t understand the commercials people talk about, actors, or tv shows. lol

  7. Thank you for the great ideas! I am loving having the tv off, and surprised that my girls haven’t missed or asked for it at all! We will definitely be continuing this!

  8. Lol–yesterday I had a couple students over a historical movie, and it was the first time my nearly two year old actually watched something.

    I totally agree, there are so many better things for little ones to do than sit in front of a screen… it really helps them be creative and learn to entertain themselves better too.

  9. As for ideas of what to do, my kitchen is tiny, so while I’m washing dishes I often set her in her highchair with paper and crayons and let her draw pictures.

    During morning clean-up time she helps me make the beds and put laundry in the laundry basket, etc. I find that as long as she’s occupied with simple tasks, I’m able to get things done just as quickly as I would if she were occupied by the tv *and* still spend time with her.

  10. We’ve been TV less for almost 15 years! It was hard in the beginning, but now we don’t miss it at all. I got my news from the internet news – I can turn off the commercials. We watched lots of old movies. My children know some of the great past actors/actresses better than I do. LOL!

  11. I like the idea of room time. We really haven’t done that, and I think I will try to do it with my youngest. She doesn’t like to be out of my sight, and although I suppose it is flattering, it is also quite exhausting. She needs to learn some independence, while being in a safe environment.

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