I’m a big fan of iPads. A big fan. As a single working mother of two kids, it is HARD to keep kids entertained and/or quiet while meeting a deadline or on a client call. With young kids getting only about an hour of schoolwork a day, it’s extra hard to find ways to keep them busy.
So, yes, my kids have gotten more screen time than usual the past few months. However, I’ve also rediscovered a few great pastimes from my own childhood:
An atlas or a globe
It’s amazing how fascinating maps can be for children. Not only are they learning about where places are in relation to each other, but the endless tiny details are magical for young kids. Maps are also a great giant coloring/drawing space.
Oh, Candyland. How did you ever seem so magical to me as a kid? As an adult, I see now that you are one of the simplest, and possible the most boring, games of all. And yet you captivated me and you captivate my kids. It really must be magic. Other old school favorites: Guess Who and Chutes and Ladders.
As the saying goes: “Teach a man to fish…” Teach your kids how to entertain themselves by teaching them War (if you have two or more kids) and Solitaire (if you have one child).
A Pogo stick
There really isn’t a more delightful way to get exercise than bouncing on a pogo stick. This is a great investment for any kid. Other ideas: Jump rope. Skip-it.
A friend of mine asked her kids to make a piece of art by coloring every individual paver stone a different color. Two hours later, the kids were exhausted and happy and their entire long front walk looked like a rainbow.
A light board
I recently remembered how much fun it was as a kid to trace pictures. Tracing today has gotten an upgrade with the availability of light boards, which cost about $10 a piece and mean you can trace on any paper, not just the thin tissue-paper-like tracing paper we used to use as kids. Tell your kids to trace magazine pictures, coloring book pictures, or print out pictures from the internet.
A rubber ball
Send your kids outside for an hour with a pink rubber ball. Those provided hours of entertainment for my sister and I growing up, while we waited for our brother’s sports practice to end.
It’s amazing how much young kids LOVE to clean. Give them some rags, a broom, and some non-toxic cleaning spray and ask them to clean your windows, floors, bathrooms, etc. They probably won’t get much thorough cleaning done, but they’ll have a blast and feel “grown up.” (Unfortunately, this gets old for kids around age 5 or 6).
Who can forget pogs, THE collectible game of the 90s? On eBay you can buy a set of 100 for around $10. Your kids will have fun discovering the joy of this game they’ve never heard of and collecting the pictures. Older kids will love Magic: The Gathering.
It does involve a screen, but you can purchase a simple handheld Tetris game for $10-$20, and it’s a lot better than watching endless movies and episodes of My Little Pony.
Sometimes the simplest entertainment, without all the bells of whistles, is the best entertainment. And if all else fails, buy a puppy and fence in your yard. You’ll have to drag them in for dinner every night.