As a parent, it can be hard to balance child rearing and tasks at home. While quality time with our children is important, we must encourage them to entertain themselves so we can address other chores and responsibilities. While using technology as a distraction is sometimes easiest, it's not always the best choice for a child’s development or behavior throughout the day.
When it comes to non-technology ways to help our kids entertain themselves, it is best to go back to basics. Here are a few simple, affordable activities to keep your child busy without using technology.
Age-appropriate puzzles are a fantastic way to keep a child entertained, while simultaneously encouraging his or her mental development. This is an affordable option, so you can keep more than one puzzle on hand for when you need a few minutes to get something done.
Be sure to find a puzzle that suits your child’s level of development. If you get something too easy, they’ll be done before you’ve finished your task. On the other hand, if it is too challenging, they are likely to get frustrated and ask for help right away. A foam floor puzzle is a great way to help younger children with smaller hands stay engaged. For older kids, try an interesting scene with smaller pieces.
Coloring is another easy, affordable way to keep your children busy. If you know you’ll be busy, stop by the local dollar store and pick up some different coloring activity books. A new coloring book is a surprising treat for your kids, and a great way to keep them inspired and interested in their art.
If you don’t have time to plan ahead, print off some free coloring pages from the internet. This will give you an opportunity to choose exactly what you want and keep things fresh each time you need a spare moment to complete a task.
In a pinch, you can also commission a piece of art from your aspiring artist. Let them know that you need a new drawing for your desk, dresser, or the fridge and you’d love if they could contribute.
Building a Fort
Give your kids some blankets, pillows, and other gear to start building a fort. For an added bonus, throw in a large box for them to turn into a castle. While fort building can turn into a large-scale project, it is relatively easy to clean up afterward. It also encourages critical thinking and engagement, as your child (or children) must plan out the space and figure out how to make everything stay in place.
Fort building kits are also a great, last-minute gift idea. Assemble some sheets, string, and wooden dowels and encourage the children to start building.
New or Recycled Toys
Children often get bored with the toys they have. While running out and constantly buying new toys isn’t the best way to handle things, having a special toy for when you need to get something done can keep a child entertained. You may choose to have a small toy on hand if this isn’t a regular occurrence. Alternatively, you may have one toy that goes away for the rest of the time, and comes back for special visits when you need to get work done.
Consider recycling your toys. Capitalize on the “out of sight, out of mind” theory and put away your kid’s toys for a while. When they start to get bored with the toys they have, bring out the hidden toys to trade places with the ones they’ve grown bored of. When they start to get bored again, repeat the process. If you align this cycle with your main chore day, you’ll be laughing.
Take a trip to the library and borrow some new books to keep young readers interested and engaged. Let them have a say in the books they choose. For younger children, books with vibrant pictures or activities can keep them busy, even if they cannot yet read.
Not only will this action keep your child entertained, it will create a positive association with reading as your child develops and learns.
You will find that the less you allow your children to use technology, the less they will ask for it. Limiting screen time will encourage your child to be imaginative and find ways to create his or her own fun and entertainment!
Written by Natalie Bracco for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.