With school holidays just around the corner, I'm starting to think again about how to manage the constant desire of my kids to be on screens. Whether it be the TV or iPad or computer, I feel like I'm battling against an addiction to be connected to technology. I know I'm not alone and am passionate about getting some balance for my family.
Why? There's a lot of research coming out about the detrimental effects of not enough outdoor play. Natural play (climbing trees, building dens, cooking outdoors etc) encourages children to think about how to climb a tree or get across obstacles such as boulders or fallen trees. Physically, muscles are being used and stretched and calories are being used. Mentally, concentration is improved and confidence, self-esteem and creativity grows. To me, it is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle.
How? Great question ... I thought I'd have the kids earn their screen time with outdoor play time. A nice little "green time vs screen time" chart to use can be downloaded and stuck on the fridge. I've got my eldest looking for ideas of outdoor activities that we can have to choose from through the holidays.
I love this story of a family who set themselves 100 outdoor challenges in a year to try and lure their daughters away from the TV. Rather than banning screen time, they took them to forests, caves and rivers and now they only watch about three hours of TV a week. With an average spend of ~$9 a challenge, this is achievable for most families.
So go on, get outside! There's an amazing world to explore ... and I'd love to hear your stories.Claire.