If you find yourself looking to set effective screen time limits for your children, you’re not alone. By now we are all aware of the research exposing the dangers of excess screen time, particularly for little ones. But as families become increasingly dependent upon our devices, it’s hard to implement boundaries . . . especially when screens have become our go-to method for keeping our kids quiet and entertained, filling the time previously occupied by the afternoon nap, or helping them wind down at the end of a long day.

For those who are looking for independent, screen-free alternatives to help your child unwind, here are some fun, easy, and relatively mess-free activities for your family to try.

  1. Set up a reading corner or fort, complete with a basket of books for silent reading. If your child is a pre-reader, try audiobooks on CD. (Fun fact: you can still find old-fashioned CD players on Amazon!)
  2. Assemble a LEGO kit.
  3. Build a tower with blocks (we love Magna-Tiles).
  4. Make a collage, wish list, or dream board using pictures cut out of old books or magazines.
  5. Paint a picture (or go for a mess-free alternative if you’d like to keep clean-up to a minimum).
  6. Experiment with origami.
  7. Put together a jigsaw puzzle.
  8. Write and illustrate a story.
  9. Do a paint-by-sticker picture or a wacky face sticker book.
  10. Build a marble run or domino track.
  11. Play with play-doh or silly putty.
  12. Work on a book of puzzles, word searches, dot-to-dots, and mazes, or have your child design their own.
  13. Have fun with a Lite-Brite or geoboard.
  14. Create pictures with pattern magnets.
  15. Use rubber stamps to decorate bookmarks or cards to send to friends.

You can set a good example for your kids by utilizing this time for a screen-free leisurely activity of your own. Try writing in a journal, taking up knitting, gardening, baking, doodling in a sketchbook, writing encouraging notes, taking a bubble bath, starting a scrapbook, or getting lost in a good mystery . . . because we moms need independent down-time, too!

What are your child’s favorite (screen-free) toys, games, or activities?

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