How to take the fun offline with your kids

With the popularity of social media and addictive video games, it seems more difficult than ever to get kids to part with their computers, phones and TVs in favour of some old fashioned fun and *gasp* real human interaction. You can only say things like “when I was your age…” so many times before eyes start to roll and glaze over. And let’s be real – parents are just as guilty of spending tons of time online. Maybe we all need a break!

So how can you convince your kids to spend less time looking at screens and more time having fun in other ways? A good first step is to commit a block of time each day where you will not go online or use any of your gadgets. If the whole family commits to this, it’s easier for everyone to play along. Then, when it comes time to decide what your child is going to do with that offline time, try these ideas:

Get musical

For this one, it’s important to let your child choose an instrument they actually want to play! Don’t impose your dreams of being a concert pianist on your offspring, because they’ll probably never want to practice and might even resent you for it. Do they want to try their hand at the cello? The ukulele? Why not?

“But aren’t musical instruments expensive?” you ask. Brand new ones certainly are, but you can get by just as well with a gently-used instrument. Ask your relatives if their older kids have any hand-me-downs, or check your local music shop for their secondhand selection. You can also search online for people selling their used musical instruments. Just make sure it’s the right size before you buy – some instruments come in smaller versions for kids. Once you’ve got your instrument, you can start searching local community boards for music lessons in your area. Pro tip: to get your kids interested in practicing, try to find song books for their favourite popular songs so they can learn them!

Get artsy

Sure, video games can develop some creativity and motor skills, but nothing beats creating art with your hands! Look for fun DIY projects you can do easily at home using inexpensive supplies. One fun idea is to visit your local thrift store and find old flower vases or picture frames that your child can jazz up using acrylic paint, glitter, or other sticky enhancements. They make great gifts, too!

Get sporty

Exercise is always better when there’s an element of fun! Start by asking your child if they’re interested in learning any sports or joining a local league. Volunteering with your child’s team is a great way for you to get out there and get active, too. Or, if you’re not ready for such a big commitment, try organizing a friendly game with the families in your neighbourhood. Who knows… throw in some BBQ treats and it could become a regular thing!

Plant a garden

There’s something really special about planting a seed, watching it grow, then eating the beautiful vegetable that appears. It’s hard to explain – it just tastes better! Challenge your kids to grow their own food in your backyard (climate permitting of course). You can start small with veggies that are easier to grow. Various lettuce varieties are a good choice, and they keep growing as you snip the leaves for your salads. Tomatoes can be a little more challenging. Pro tip: if you don’t have a green thumb, try planting seedlings that have already started to grow to increase your chances of success. Also be sure to check what grows best according to the light exposure you get in your yard.

Build a fort

When all else fails and the weather is rainy, why not build a fort? Kids of all ages (and young-at-heart adults) love it, and you don’t need to spend any money to make it happen. All you need are a few blankets, chairs and couch cushions and you’re good to go for at least a few hours of fun.
The options for offline fun are almost as endless as the World Wide Web, so try one of these old fashioned ideas and spend some quality time with your kids today!

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