“Can I have the iPad?” “Can I watch?” “iPad Pleeeeeease” things I hear daily from my 4 year old when he comes home from school. He started kindergarten this year and was having some trouble sitting during circle time. If he had a good day, he was able to watch Netflix on the iPad when he got home after school. I will admit it was not necessarily the best choice in reward, but with a brand new baby in the house this mom was going to do what she needed to at the time. However, now it has turned into a habit, and not a good one at that. If I let him, Monkey would be on the iPad all day every day. And while yes it keeps him out of my hair and from making a mess, it also keeps him sitting on the couch not being active or playing. Not exactly the way I had pictured my parenting, especially since Monkey didn’t really watch any TV before he was 2! But the great thing is that I can change that – NOW – before it becomes a bigger problem. Because there is so much more to experience in this world then what you see on a 7 inch screen.
With 3 kids under 5 years old I know how tempting it is to hand over an iPad while you try to get the dishes done, or cook dinner – I have done it many times. However, I am also realizing that it comes at a cost. When I tell my boys to go play, they ask if they can play with the iPad… um No, how about you play with the hundreds of toys we have in the house? I remember back to when I was a child and we would play Barbies and X-Men for hours, building lego forts, and creating castles out of cardboard boxes. Those are the memories that I want my kids to have too, not that they were allowed to watch TV. It is time to make room for play in our lives and I am making an active effort to lead the way for my family.
Here are ways that we are make room for play in our household
1 – Get the kids involved in daily tasks – Yes it may take little longer to get the laundry done (get them to match socks while you fold), and you might end up with some water on the floor while doing dishes (that is what tea towels are for) but you are connecting with your kids. It gives you a chance just to talk to them while working, and allows you to teach them life skills. My kids are going to know how to take care of themselves by the time they move out of this house!
2 – Get outside – I get it we are in Canada, and it is COLD in the winter. But we are Canadian, embrace winter and get out there (with your snow pants, boots and hat on!). Build a snow fort, find a local park to toboggan, or make snow angels. It can be tricky to get out when you have really little children, by way to work around that is to dress the baby warmly, put them in a baby carrier and head out the door with them in tow.
3 – Get back to basics – Find games and toys that your kids can play with without you needing to be right there. Right now my 2 and 4 year old think Lego Duplo and Mr. Potato Head are the big winners. They can get out the toys and play together without needing my assistance. Maybe for your child it is arts & crafts or sports, find what they enjoy and encourage them to play!
Need some ideas for outdoor games to play with the kids? Check out the ParticipACTION Cold Weather Activity Checklist – I think a snow treasure hunt might be in store for this weekend! There are also lots of helpful tips on balance screen time with playtime for all ages on the ParticipACTION website. So now it is time for me to get off the computer and go play with my kids.