How to Keep Kids Away from Screens this Christmas

Kids and screens, the eternal dilemma.  After a summer holiday that probably featured more screen time than you wanted and a possibly half wasted half-term, with the children's faces stuck in screens of one form or another, you may be slightly dreading the school Christmas holidays.  Just how can you keep the kids away from screens this Christmas?

We all dread becoming one of those families with everyone sat round the table on their own phone/tablet/game thingy.  And goodness only knows what grandma will have to say about the recalcitrant teen or tween who barely lowers their screen all Christmas! **shudder**  Read on for three ways to re-engage kids and keep them away from screens, not because you tell them to, but because they want to!

I was tempted to subtitle this feature 'Hint: it starts with choosing great presents' but that hardly explains what we are trying to achieve here when many of the top toy guides feature endless coding, games/apps, and electronics.  Believe it or not there are plenty of toys out there, and things to do, that don't involve any electronics or even batteries!

The Number 1 Way to Keep Kids Away from Screens this Christmas

Whatever your usual Christmas traditions, why not embrace a calmer, gentler, more traditional Christmas this year?  Book your panto tickets, head out to see the Christmas lights, plan days out at the beach or a walk in the woods, and embrace a simpler approach.  Reflect this in your gifts too.

A return to more traditional, hands-on gifts that you can play with or use with your child will benefit both of you.  So put your phone away, resist the urge to check Instagram or Facebook, pull down the curtain on your email and WhatsApp, and take a week or more off yourself.  Time to embrace simpler pleasures and make amazing memories with your kids.

One quick tip, try to get all your Christmas prep (planning, buying, wrapping) sorted before the schools finish so you resist the temptation to use tech as a babysitter in those last frantic pre-Christmas days!

3 Ways to Keep Kids Away from Screens this Christmas

That old adage about kids wanting your presence not your presents is more true now than ever before.  We're all so tied up in work, social life, life admin, the news, TV and all the rest that we never spend enough real time with our kids.

Maybe that subtitle should be 'Hint: give them the gift of your time'?!

This year keep your physical gift giving simple with these amazing toy ideas, and then give your kids the real gift this Christmas: TIME.  Spend time reminiscing about your own childhood toys and creating wonderful memories with similar toys with your own children.  Here's how:

1. Get outside

Outdoor play and even traditional garden games aren't just for summer.  What better time of year is there to get outside to fly a kite?  This traditional diamond shaped kite is just the thing to recall your own youth, and create those fun memories for your own child.  Even better if Mary Poppins is on TV this Christmas!  Let's Go Fly a Kite...

Or keep it simpler with this fun string disc launcher.  A classic from a 1970s or '80s childhood, this cool disc launcher will keep them entertained in the garden for ages - even more so if you're running around picking it up for them!  That's one way to work off that last mince pie anyway...

And who could forget the simple pleasures of playing Jacks sat on the pavement outside your house or on the garden path?  Introduce your child to this slightly addictive game and they'll be hooked on this instead of their phone.  They might even get their friends involved!  The perfect stocking filler, and don't worry the instructions are included in case you've forgotten 😉

2. Rediscover nature

You've read the statistics about kids spending less time outdoors than prisoners, I'm sure.  We all have.  And even the best parents are probably guilty of spending way too much time indoors; I know I am!  (And I write articles like this!)

Despite appearances to the contrary, winter is one of the best times to get out exploring nature in the UK.  Look for mammal tracks, which are easier to spot in mud, frost and snow.  Birds are also easier to spot with less foliage and you'll see groups roosting, as well as migratory visitors and lots of wildfowl who over-winter here.

Help children get hands on with the right equipment like this two-way insect viewer and Nature Trail binoculars.  Teach them about the different insects you find together, or the birds you spot.  If you are learning alongside them just grab a field guide or two to help you.

Getting your child interested in nature at whatever age, i.e. right now, can help foster a lifelong love of nature as well as providing multiple health benefits.  The key is really participating and getting stuck in; feeling, hearing, touching, seeing and tasting nature.  The closer they are, the more they will engage and appreciate everything nature has to offer.

Nature reserves, RSPB sites and wetland centres aren't the preserve of dedicated twitchers and many will put on fun family-friendly events over the Christmas holiday, so get out there and get stuck in.  Or just head to your local forest or patch of woodland and explore.

We love this beginners' introductory microscope which comes complete with slides and tweezers, perfect for examining finds.  It is very lightweight and has a battery-operated light so you can easily take it out with you on nature adventures.

Collect leaf litter, mud or pond water and see what you can find in it; or look at fallen leaves, moss or lichen to see the amazing patterns of nature.  You may even be able to study a snowflake.  The perfect gift for budding scientists!

3. Stay in

OK we're talking about the UK, in winter.  There are going to be some down days.  Rain, fog, cold, drizzle, even snow if we're really lucky.  Not to mention those dark afternoons and the long down days between Christmas and New Year.

So, amongst all your outdoor adventures, there will be some indoor time.  But do they (and you) need to turn straight to screens to WhatsApp, message or play?  No way!  There's still time for plenty of good old-fashioned fun indoors, whatever their age.

Challenge your littlest to balance as many sticks as possible on the back of cute little Elvis the Elephant.  Sounds simple, but just give it a try and you'll see.  Those little fingers will be trembling with anticipation and when Elvis tumbles it's hilarious.  So cute, and the perfect family game to play after dinner and before bed on a dark evening.

For older children, these cute fairy tale dice are such a great idea.  Sit in front of the living room fire on a rainy afternoon and tell a long story about fairies, wizards, mermaids and magic castles.  What could be more fun?  We recommend baking some delicious cookies first!

Tatiana has been asking to learn to sew for the past few weeks, so this lovely Make and Sew Suitcase is the perfect thing for her and any other child aged 6+.  It contains everything they need to get started including fabric, thread, stuffing and equipment to make five different items.

Sitting down to teach Tatia to sew brings back such lovely memories of my mum teaching me.  Although to tell the truth I feel like that about all of these gifts.  They all bring back childhood memories of kite flying, story telling, bug hunting and more.  And isn't that what we want for our own children?  To set aside the screens and just play in a fun, old-fashioned way?

Fill their stockings with these fun games and activities, then offer your time to play with them, and your kids will be more than happy to step away from their screens this Christmas.  Who can resist a return to good old-fashioned childhood fun, and what better time than a family-centred Christmas to make it happen?  Have fun!

All products available from Rex London

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Related posts:

The Perfect Prescription for Happier Kids
How to Encourage Imaginative Play Outdoors
How to Limit Kids Screen Time the Easy Way
10 Easy and Fun Nature Activities to Get Kids Outdoors
8 Easy Ways to Keep Your Kids Active

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