This post was inspired by a reader who said she loved the sites but wanted her family to "unplug"! Such a valid point! I personally am on the computer most of the day working (I work full time) so for me to unplug is really hard. I get addicted to relaxing to my facebook, bloggers, and TV. Even though I've worked for 8 hours, done at least 3 hours of homework with my girls, cleaned house, cooked meals, and gone jogging by the time I hit my very comfortable desk chair at night, even I could use an unplug every now and then...
So here are 10 quick ideas on how to get your children to "unplug" and be happy about it!
1. Don't Watch Kid Shows
I hate it when my 2 year old wants to watch TV, even though we watch Sight Words, Signing Time, and Match Chase regularly (as well as Leapfrog) as part of our homework routine. She wants to watch NickJr. 8 hours a day sometimes, and it makes me crazy. So my newest approach which has been by far the most effective and easiest is rather then argue with her I'll turn on the TV to music, or to the news. It's nothing she cares about so she looses interest and goes to play with her toys!
2. Have Music Going!
If there's already something going in the background my kids often just won't even ask for the TV! So as soon as you get up in the morning put on the iPod, Radio or Music Channel it takes 2 seconds, put it to your favorite music and you'll be amazed at how much more YOU get done!
3. Only Play Educational Games!
It won't bother you that your kids are on the computer so much if ALL you let them do is educational games! Hey the fact my 2 year old is counting to 17 now is impressive to me... so when she asks to do "1, 3, 6 game" I'm good with that!
4. Have Alternatives On Hand!
Telling any kid over the age of 3 months "no" is like saying "no" in a hostage negotiation... IT'S A BAD IDEA! Besides they don't get why you are denying their wish. So don't say "no" instead when they ask to watch TV or play on the computer say "how about we play PlayDough" and pull it out like a magic trick! Hey you can set them to their high chair or up at the table, they are just as entertained and happy to have something to do!
5. Make Sure There's A Toy Out!
Something us clean mom's do, is CLEAN! Once all the toys are picked up they are out of sight out of mind, and guess where the TV is? Promptly on display! So leave a toy or two or three on the floor. Don't put them up where they are out of reach, or on display! Just leave them right there where the kids can play with them. If they are entertained they'll ask for less TV.
6. Make TV A Treat!
I tell my 2 year old she can only watch TV after her home-work is done (she get's to watch Signing Time for reading) then after her room is clean (yep she'll clean her own room), and then again after she helps me make dinner. Each time she get's this reward (which is not everyday) it's for doing something and it's still educational shows! She is proud of herself for accomplishing something, I'm proud she spend less then 1.5 hours in front of the television!
7. Spend A Day Timing How Much TV You Watch!
If you're like I was, you'll be sick. And, quite frankly ready to throw the thing away! Most people don't even realize how much TV they or their children watch.
8. Cover It Up!
If your TV is not in a cabinet then throw a sheet over it for a couple of days... Out of sight out of mind. It might still get asked for but it will be easier to distract their minds if they aren't staring at it while asking!
9. Turn The Computer OFF!
If it's off you won't be on it either. If you aren't on it then you'll be spending more time with them... if they already have your attention they wont NEED to do what you're doing to feel like they are getting attention from you!
10. Spend Time With THEM Not The Computer/TV
Parents often (like me) have the TV or computer on to feel connected with the rest of the world (other adults). By doing so we think we are keeping ourselves sane, however it's easy to get carried away and spend WAY too much time staying connected and not nearly enough time with our little ones! So unplug yourself if you want them to unplug and go for a nature walk!
Thanks Kerry H. for the reminder that sometimes teaching means unplugging!