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How to Help Kids Unplug for Screen-Free Week

by Ivy B

Parenting in 2018 is problematic as our children become addicted to screens.  I’m sharing ideas to help your kids unplug for screen-free week (and all year long) while still having FUN,

Our daughter recently lost privileges over how much time she could spend on her iPad.  I’d gotten lazy and let her have free reign over the iPad once homework and chores were complete.  But, my laziness back-fired.

She began giving us attitude about everything.  A request to put the tablet down to come to dinner or get ready for bed came with a huge sigh or an eye roll.  “Can I have one more minute?” she’d  ask, despite the 5 minute warning.  And if we obliged, we weren’t thanked.  She’d act perturbed and angry when it was, in fact, time for bed.

The more she used an iPad or tablet, the more she needed.  She’d gotten caught sneaking her tablet up to bed or sneaking out of bed early in the morning to play.  It prevented her from getting ready for school in the morning or she’d try to play before she was ready.

We’d had enough.  My husband and I sat down together and, as a team, came up with a plan to limit her screen-time.

The rules were:

Weekdays – 1 hour of any tablet ONLY after she completed homework.  If she was ready with plenty of time in the morning, she could earn tablet usage until it was time to leave.

Weekends – We reserved tablet usage for our toddler’s nap-time.  This gave us all quiet time.

We may have worried about what this meant for the mood of the house in the coming weeks, but we laid down the law.

Finding a lizard; Screen-free fun outdoors | www.sahmplus.com
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My daughter shrugged her shoulders, and on the first day of the rule, she ran out to play.  Not once did she even look at her tablet that day.  We were both shocked and relieved, and it’s remained civil in the house.  More often than not, she prefers real play over her tablet now, and it’s been almost a month.

When I was approached to review Screen-Free Fun, I knew this was a must.  I believe this is a common problem among parents these days.  Our children are growing up educated and entertained by electronics.  And, with screen-free week right around the corner, this was a timely request.  I received a free review copy of Screen-Free Fun.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

How to Help Your Kids Unplug for Screen-Free Week

Though I’ve been known to let the iPad babysit my kid(s), I’m aware of the issues too much screen-time can cause.  This was discussed thoroughly in this article, Screen Time Syndrome.  I’ve seen, first-hand, how cranky each of them become when they don’t just play!

Screen-Free Week is April 30th – May 6th, 2018.  I want you to be ready to help your kids unplug for screen-free week while remaining sane.

I’m sharing 4 ways to maintain your sanity during a screen-free week with the kids.  Don’t forget that modeling what you wish to see from them is the best thing, so you will be expected to be screen-free.  We work and have lives, so it’s understandable if you can’t be screen-free yourself all week.  But not making an effort to reduce your own screen-time weakens your message to your kids.

kids unplug for screen-free week with the new book Screen-Free Fun | www.sahmplus.com

Plan activities

Participating in activities will help your kids unplug for screen-free week!

I know how difficult it is to come up with ideas at times.  As a work at home mom myself, I’m already wearing so many hats I drop the ball on a lot.  It’s part of why I became lax about screen-time in the first place.  So, I completely understand that planning more activities isn’t always easy.

The book Screen-Free Fun by Shannon Philpott-Sanders is a life-saver for busy parents.  Its release is well-timed for screen-free week.

Shannon offers over 400 family activities in her book.  The 4 areas in which you can seek screen-free time (and some of my favorite ideas in each) are:

  • Creativity Activities: Tell a Group Story, Write New Lyrics to Favorite Melodies, and Create Music Shakers
  • Outdoor Activities: Create Sidewalk Chalk Art, Play Simon Says, and Host a Hopscotch Contest
  • Being involved in your Community: Visit a Lonely Neighbor, Host a Toy Exchange, Call a Long-Distance Relative
  • Local Travel/Day Trips: Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt, Create Zoo Sketches, and Play Road Trip Rhyming

With so many options in this book, you’re certain to find a lot of ideas everyone can enjoy together.  This will help with a smooth transition through screen-free week.

Planning activities doesn’t have to be difficult or annoying either.  Doing something together can be as simple as working with a fuse bead kit like this one.


Have them plan activities

Kids playing on a piano screen-free activity | www.sahmplus.com

Have your kids create a screen-free week bucket list of things they’d like to do.  If they get bored, they can refer to their own list (or yours) to see if anything prompts excitement.  They can look through the Screen-Free Fun book to help pick activities they think they’d enjoy.

Carve out quiet time

With all the extra parenting you’re doing, make sure everyone  gets some down-time.  Have printables, books, or age-appropriate arts and crafts available for independent activity.  Quiet time is the perfect opportunity for mom to have a quick nap or catch up on work or chores.

Screen-free entertainment can still be educational!  How about screen-free coding?  Like this …


Let them “be bored”

There is going to be at least one moment when the kids become bored.  Let them be bored!.  Boredom is a great exercise to teach kids to rely on their imaginations and creativity to get out of a funk.  Teach them not to rely on you for everything and let them sit staring at a wall. This could be the motivation they need to devise their own activity.

Technology has taken a huge place in all our lives.  It plays a role in education and, many times, becomes an easy parenting solution to lean on.  But, we need to remember, there is a time and place for technology.  That time is not all the time.  We should teach our children healthy screen-time habits.  Helping your kids unplug for screen-free week is the perfect opportunity for this!

Tell me: Are you ready to help your kids unplug for screen-free week?

Did you order Screen-Free Fun yet?  You’re going to want to prepare before screen-free week.

How to survive when kids unplug for screen-free week. The book Screen-Free Fun gives tons of screen-free activities and ideas to help you, plus other ways to stay sane | www.sahmplus.com

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Janine Huldie April 5, 2018 - 7:51 am

These are great tips. I admit my kids use their devices more often here than we probably intended when we first got them. But as they are getting older it is getting harder and harder to curb the amount of time on them as they use them for school, too now. But love the idea of a screen-free week. And may have to see what I can do over the summer time with this, especially when school is out for the year here.

Ivy B April 6, 2018 - 7:54 am

We’re planning some summer activities with friends ourselves to try to reduce screen-time then too. Nothing wrong with enforcing healthy screen-time habits as kids get older 😉

Gail April 5, 2018 - 10:27 am

Great suggestions. Thank you for posting this!

Ivy B April 6, 2018 - 7:52 am

Thanks 😀 I’m looking forward to trying screen-free week

Catie April 5, 2018 - 12:07 pm

We are dealing with these same screen time issues with my 6 year old right now. The more she consumes, the more she craves it and acts wild if she doesn’t get it. Thanks for the great Screen-Free week tips! We’ll be sure to add some into our daily no screen time.

Ivy B April 6, 2018 - 7:52 am

Was she also extra moody with it? We were given so much attitude about EVERYTHING if ours got too much.

Genny April 5, 2018 - 1:32 pm

Yes, kids need to be more active and doing more creative things instead of being in front of a screen. Good article 🙂

Ivy B April 6, 2018 - 7:51 am

Thank you! Yes, kids should be active and playing, that’s part of growing up and how they learn

Margaret Westhoff April 5, 2018 - 2:08 pm

My 10 year old stepdaughter definitely needs a screen free week. I like your activity ideas and how to prepare kids for a week unplugged. Sometimes my stepdaughter gets grounded from her electronics, and she struggles at first, but then she starts playing Legos, or doing arts and crafts, and after awhile, not having the computer or video games is more fun than playing with them.

Ivy B April 6, 2018 - 7:50 am

It’s amazing what they’ll do when they’re not glued to electronics, isn’t it?!

Brittany April 6, 2018 - 9:37 am

I love this! I definitely have seen kids attached to their gadgets. I think it is so important to have screen-free play time

Sarah April 6, 2018 - 2:20 pm

I’m looking forward to the nice weather. It’s so much easier for us to get outside and play rather then watching tv or playing on iPad. It can be hard for my daughter too because there are so many toys she’s just not interested in.

Farmhouse Mama April 7, 2018 - 1:09 am

I like this idea! My baby isn’t even a year but we don’t allow screen time. Our goal is no screens until 2 but we’ll see if that happens 🙂 once he is allowed, I love the idea of limiting it!

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