We’ve been using Kidslox for some time as a way of maintaining our schedule: the kids devices are all locked for the morning when they need to be getting ready for school, locked for an hour and a half before dinner so that they can do their homework and if they don’t manage in that time we use some extra sessions after dinner to make sure that they don’t get distracted by the tablet until their work is done.
Moving beyond the schedule
The system works for maintaining the (relative) peace, but we’ve noticed that with such a strict schedule in place, the kids almost feel that when the device is available to them, they have to play on on it. We’d prefer it if they chose to use their free time away from the screens, so we’ve decided to start modelling some other fun ways for them to use their down time. For now we put their devices into lockdown mode so they can focus on these activities, but the hope is that with time they’ll be choosing to engage with these options even when the devices are available to them.
Things to do
Dressing up – it’s a classic way to spark children’s imaginations and leads to all sorts of fun games and scenarios. It’s not hard to put aside some of your old clothes and even buy some more unusual items at a 2nd hand store but it’s surely worth it as your faded sparkly top suddenly becomes a King’s robes or a popstar outfit. The great thing about having some dressing up clothes at the ready is that every time you get them out is different.
Working in the garden – there’s something about the outdoors which the kids find really exciting. Where other household chores wouldn’t generate any enthusiasm at all, gardening often manages to tap into something much deeper, that they really connect with. And though working in the garden often turns into playing in the garden, we’re pretty happy with that, it’s still far preferable to having them sitting at their screens all afternoon.
Making something delicious – ‘helping in the kitchen’ is an infamous byword round here for the kids getting in the way and pushing dinner time back at least half an hour! That said, they love doing it, so set aside some extra time, be prepared for things to get messy and find a simple recipe for something you can prepare and bake together.
Board games – board games are definitely enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment, especially for adults and older kids. The new interest that’s created has resulted in a lot of good games being released for younger children too. One helpful thing about them is that once you’ve played through the game with the kids once or twice, they can happily entertain themselves with it. Don’t feel that the rules are written in stone either; very often the ‘house rules’ can take on a life of their own!
Family show – tell the kids that you’re going to have a family show in half an hour and they need to prepare as many things to show as they can. It might be musical talent, dancing, acting or showing off some recently acquired skill, or it could be more like show and tell, where they draw something or find something that’s important to them and then explain about it ‘from the front’. Again, the flexibility of this activity is what makes it great; not only can it accommodate almost any available time and number of children, it’s so open ended that just about any new achievement can potentially be celebrated and shown off in this way.
Some of these suggestions will work well for you, others might need adapting. I’m sure you’ve got more great ideas of things to do when the devices are locked that you use with your own family. Tell us about them in the comments below.