13 ways to get them to disconnect!

Pull Your Kids Away From Their Phones and Tablets This Summer

by Dawn Summerson

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With things like Netflix, cellphones and tablets, it is hard to get kids away from technology. The Kaiser Family Foundation did a study suggesting kids today are spending up to 75 hours a week on things like the internet, Netflix, and smart phones. Recently, I came across a quote by a first grade teacher that said, "Yes, kids love technology, but they also love Legos, scented markers, handstands, books, and mud puddles. It's all about balance." Why not try these 13 successful summer activities that will help to get your kids to look up from their tablets and cellphones?

Visit the library: It sounds old fashioned, but the kids loved it! I got them their own library cards and my stepson went from fighting us to read to reading at least two books a week.

Camp at home: My 8-year-old really loved the idea of pitching a tent in the backyard and camping out with his dad. If you already have a tent, it is a really great idea for some quality time, and you can snack on things like s'mores.

Make them a photographer for a day: If you have an old camera or phone with a camera lying around, give it to the kids and let them go crazy. We caught all kinds of moments on "film." We got to see things through the eyes of our children and printed out our favorites to keep!

Museums: It sounds boring, but today there are so many different types of museums, including science, art, children's, and music museums. Many have free admission or half off during the summer. I even get emailed offers from my bank for free admission days to local museums.

Related: Taking Advantage of Museum Reciprocal Programs

Write to pen pals: It's a great way for kids to get to know others while improving their writing skills. You can find people across the country or half way across the world and learn about new things with your kids. Check out places like Amazing-Kids.org, or if you think they would like to write to a solider overseas, AdoptAUSSoldier.org is a good one.

Acts of kindness: I don't think I am alone when I say that many of us would like our kids to learn to think of others more frequently. Occasionally, I like to put each family member's name in a bowl, have each member pick one name, and give them one week to do something nice for their chosen person.

Related: Free Happiness for Your Kids!

Make a rock garden: Pick out some rocks and let the kids paint them. After they dry, spray them with a clear coat to protect them from weathering. We let the kids find a place in the garden to "display" their work. It's something we will be able to keep for years to come.

Start a summer reading challenge: Get a poster board to keep track of books that were read and offer rewards for reading!

Discount movie day: Many movie theaters are offering movie tickets for as little as $1! Regal Cinemas is one that I know of in my area.

Make your own water park: Bring out the sprinklers and kiddie pool. Make your own larger homemade slip and slide using a piece of vinyl, some pool noodles, and the hose. If you want to add a little speed, just add a small drop or two of tear free baby shampoo.

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Find kid workshops: Many chain stores (Home Depot, Lowe's, Michael's, Barnes and Noble, etc.) offer workshops for kids for little to no cost. Lowe's and Home Depot offer the kids an apron as part of the workshop where they get to build things. Barnes and Noble offer story time for kids while the parents get to shop around.

Get involved: Volunteer! It sounds silly, but it is a great way to show the kids the importance of helping others. Volunteer.gov is a great site to find places near you looking of all kinds of volunteers.

Write a short story: Get a notebook and make up a short story the kids get to illustrate! My 14-year-old wrote the story while her brother got to draw the pictures.

All the things listed are low cost to free and with minimal use of electronics. Try out a few of the things on the list and you might be surprised at how little your kids will miss the technology!

Reviewed June 2017

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