Keeping Kids Busy

iain's first soccer game june 2008My three year old son started playing soccer last week. My daughter’s in gymnastics and piano lessons. My wife goes to the YMCA for exercise regularly, and I play World Of Warcraft.

I watch less than a couple of hours of television a week, but the kids watch it a lot; it’s their baby-sitter. We want to reduce our dependency on it, keeping them busy with creative and engaging activities instead.

I know a couple people who are tv-less, which I respect a lot. I’m doing some googling about breaking the tv-habit, but I could use any advice and ideas:

How do you keep a 7 year old and 3 year old busy
without a television and without destroying the house?

7 Replies to “Keeping Kids Busy”

  1. crack or heroin addictions should assist in the tv withdrawl…the crystal meth tends to be a bit messier around the house..we find this works best with our 10 and 7 year old

  2. I have to get them in the habit first and I can’t afford it. That’s the only reason.

    We’re not unplugging the tv cold-turkey without a plan on how we’ll deal with the chaos afterwords. Wally spends a lot of time outside (his own choice). Maybe we should lock the kids out there with him.

  3. Honestly do the tv thing cold turkey. Our kids are allowed one movie or one hour on the computer every second day. The inbetween day they must find other “things” to do. The house does tend to come undone a bit more on non screen days but not horribly so. We do not have a yard but the kids are old enough now to go the park a couple of blocks away. We will often have one of the kids friends over and this is not done to be altruistic, it saves the child from strangulation by preventing them from telling me they are bored a thousand times in twenty minutes and hence avoiding the restricted airway…

  4. Even though there are no kids around here, I kick Alexander out of the house as much as possible. Being an only child, he finds stuff to do outside. We bought a swim mask for him so he could look at the fish in the brook. Got him into soccer, which I coach (moan!) Next week he will be starting swim camp at the Aquatic Centre and then he has Zoo camp at the beginning of August. The dog is always outside with Alexander and that makes me not feel so bad.

    I am exclusively working from home now, so for the summer holidays, I have to figure out ways to get him amused.

  5. Music is good if they have any natural talent.

    You can trade tv watching time for music practice time. We’ve done this to get ours over the hump of not being good enough to be too interested. Our kids music teacher used this trade with computer games to get her son into the Conservatorium before he’d finished school.

    Discovering nature is good too. I love setting little projects like – collect 10 bugs, photograph 10 different birds, plants etc then use the book to identify them.

    But of course, the magical thing about kids is that if the tv is not an option (and neither is the computer) they will find things to amuse themselves. They tend to lie around going “I’m bored” a lot if they think they’ll break your resolve and be able to watch tv again, but once they realise there’s no alternative they build cubby’s, cook (pancakes, chocolate cake are popular, and meringues will keep them going for hours if they mix it by hand), explore, role play, read books, play lego and so on.

    My son (10) is so into lego now that the main computer game he plays is lego starwars.

  6. i am 20, and i will tell you RIGHT NOW that your children need good old fashioned, wholesome LEGO. i suggest getting them a good set or a couple buckets… minimum 1000 pieces [they were sold in 500 piece buckets in my day… dont know about now]. DO NOT buy the pre-fab sets that show you what to build. get them generic buckets that they can build ANYTHING with. they also need a couple bases to work off of [two or three]. suggest that they build things like houses, cars, or their favourite animals. LEGO is seriously the most amazing thing ever. and even if they end up watching tv while playing with the LEGO, they will still be focused on being creative rather than just watching TV.

  7. One of our grandkids lives in a tv free zone. She (7 yr. old) has tubs of dress-up clothes and art supplies. They let her have their old digital camera and she is encouraged to photograph things, print them out and write about them. Her parents play lots of games with her, Uno, Clue, Sorry and lately Chess. She also goes out and gardens with her mom. Books! This kid reads like a 5th grader.

    The cooking is a great idea. When the above child’s mother was young she would make up chocolate chip pancakes, put them 2 to-a-bag and freeze them. Each morning she’d pop them into the toaster and have them for breakfast.

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