How is it only February 8th? Was January 2018 the longest month in recorded history… or is it just me? I certainly can’t relate to being cooped up inside due to a “Bomb” cyclone (what?!), feet of snow or freezing rain, but San Diego has its chilly winter days (believe it or not) so our little family is definitely ready for a warm spring and all the outdoor activities warmer weather has to offer. I sent all the good vibes and positive energy I possibly can to Punxsutawney Phil last week, but that little guy still predicted 6 more weeks of winter, so I'm hunkering down and preparing for more cold rather than warmth.
Speaking of hunkering down... the amount of time spent indoors typically correlates to the amount of time spent on electronic devices or in front of the TV (for my family). It’s all too easy to hand over your phone or tablet or turn on the TV for a little distraction mid-meltdown or when you can’t bear to build one more fort (trust me, I’ve been there). Heck, 98% of households with children under 8 now have access to mobile devices and that’s up from 52% just six years ago, so know we’re not the only ones! (1) But with more and more research about the negative effects of too much “screen time” for our little ones (2), I’ve been trying my best to keep them occupied in other ways when I can. Personal development and effects of digital media of course vary from child to child, but in a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), no screen time for infants 18 months and younger, one hour per day for children 2-5 years old and limited digital media for children 6 years and older was recommended. (3)
Now allow me to play devil's advocate. I agree that no screen time or a few hours here and there is all well and good in theory, but we need to take reality into account. This Wall Street Journal article summed it up all too perfectly with the following quote: “Any parent who’s driven screaming children on a highway would give the Nobel Prize to the inventors of the iPad.” And at times, I couldn’t agree more. With all the studies around harmful effects of screen time, we must also look at the flip side and consider treating active and passive screen time differently. There’s a growing consensus that “active” screen time (creative apps, educational games, etc.) are a non-harmful and potentially even cognitively beneficial activity. (4) And educators and researchers are beginning to acknowledge the ways technology can be a tool for learning and development, rather than merely a danger. (5)
Whether you’re a screen free home or simply looking for ways to limit that screen time when you’re stuck inside all day, today I’m sharing a few of my favorite indoor “unplugged” activities for the kiddos, plus a few more I’ll be testing out over the next few weeks of winter!
In the Kitchen
My little ones are always in the kitchen with me. It’s how and why I started Once Upon a Farm! Here are a few of my favorite recipes to make with my kiddos. They’re simple and quick so you won’t get ditched half way through for something more exciting ;) Plus they’re delicious for both mama and baby!
- Yogurt Bark: Need an easy snack for the kids or a new idea for baby led weaning? This yummy yogurt bark is simple to make and there’s no cooking required. Just spread, squeeze, sprinkle and freeze!
- Muffins with Applesauce: This Simple Mills recipe calls for water, but we substituted our Sweet as Apple Pie Applesauce to add a touch of apple cinnamon flavor.
- Mango Filled Cupcakes: We celebrated our second Once Upon a Farm birthday by teaming up with Foodstirs for these delicious Magic Velvet Mango filled bites of heaven.
Making a volcano explode with baking soda and vinegar never gets old… in my opinion. But if you’ve tried that project already, here a couple more of my favorites!
- Grow Your Own Garden: Get a head start on your spring garden by growing seeds indoors then moving them outside when it’s warm enough. Kiddos can care for them by making sure they get enough sun and water during the day. Use this handy gardening calendar to decide what to plant based on where you live!
- Elsa’s Magic Touch: If your kiddos are fans of Frozen, this project could not be more perfect. Watch this video to learn how to freeze a glass of water with just one touch.
- Fluffy Slime: Make slime for different holidays by simply switching up the colors you use! Follow these directions to have slime in no time ;)
- Color Changing Play Dough: You may need to plan ahead for this one so you have thermochroic pigment on hand, but it’s totally worth it! Click to learn how to make heat sensitive play dough or slime!
When outside isn’t an option and the novelty of “I’ll time you running here to there” has worn off, these energy-burning activities are essential.
- Yoga for Kids: Keep this in your back pocket for tantrums and mini melt downs (or just a fun activity!) as breathing and movement can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. (6) This yoga chart simplifies each pose for your little ones.
- Dance Party: Turn up the tunes! And if you have a disco ball handy, it will entertain the kiddos for hours. This activity is especially good for the days it gets dark early.
The activities are endless and this website has a lot more to try!
With more winter weather coming our way and most likely being inside more often than not, I’m trying to be a bit more conscious of screen time with my little ones, but every child and family is different. You can’t believe everything you hear, but if you’re looking to limit screen time in your family or just want a few new activities to try indoors, I hope this list is helpful for you!
Cassandra Curtis, Co-founder + Chief Innovation Officer, Once Upon a Farm
Cassandra is a mother of 3 girls. She lives in San Diego with her husband, daughters, 2 cats and a dog. Cassandra works full time as co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Once Upon a Farm and as a mom. In the rare free time that she does get, she loves to do Yoga (she is a certified yoga teacher), cook healthy meals, run, travel, and spend time with friends and family.
- Kamenetz, Anya. “5 Things To Know About Screen Time Right Now.” NPR, NPR, 3 Jan. 2018, npr.org/sections/ed/2018/01/03/572875689/five-things-to-know-about-screen-time-right-now.
- “Negative Effects of Excessive Screen Time For Children | SSISA.” Sports Science Institute of South Africa, 4 Apr. 2017, ssisa.com/child-really-need-screen/.
- Middlebrook, Hailey. “New screen time rules for kids, by doctors.” CNN, Cable News Network, 21 Oct. 2016, cnn.com/2016/10/21/health/screen-time-media-rules-children-aap/index.html.
- Gay, Jason. “Screen Time for Kids Is Awful-And I Cant Live Without It.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 26 Jan. 2018, wsj.com/articles/screen-time-for-kids-is-awfuland-i-cant-live-without-it-1516986617.
- Mims, Christopher. “What If Children Should Be Spending More Time With Screens?” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 22 Jan. 2018, wsj.com/articles/what-if-children-should-be-spending-more-time-with-screens-1516539618.
- “Calm Down Yoga Routine for Kids: Printable.” Childhood101, 23 Jan. 2018, childhood101.com/yoga-for-kids/.