Can you even imagine have a family night that’s screen-free?! It wasn’t many years ago when TV and internet played only a small part in our lives. Maybe we spent an hour or so on the internet to check email or watch our favorite TV show once a week. Now there’s Netflix, TV, tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Every room has a screen and, if we aren’t careful, our children will lose the art of conversation and living in the here and now.
My husband and I have recently instituted a “no screen time after 8 pm rule” for ourselves and, let me tell you, it was hard at first. What should we do? What should we talk about? It sounds silly, but we can become addicted to escaping. Escaping from the present and real life. So in an effort to keep your family’s communication, relationships, and priorities in order let’s talk about how to have a screen-free family night.
How to Have a Screen-free Family Night
First let’s discuss how to prepare your family for a screen-free night. If they’re used to being on the iPad or watching TV every night you’ll likely meet resistance at first.
- Choose one night per week (or a frequency of your choosing) and designate it “screen free night.”
- Until it becomes a habit, remind your family it’ll be a screen free night so they don’t start the evening grumpy.
- Do any work or school related activities that require screens in early afternoon or, better yet, the day before.
- Put tablets, smart phones, laptops, and remotes out of eyesight and arm’s reach.
Once you’ve gotten into the groove of a screen-free family night I know everyone will love those evenings together. It may be difficult at first to make the adjustment from being entertained to entertaining, but the kids should quickly get the hang of it — and enjoy it!
One way to start the evening off right is to prepare a meal and then eat together. Children actually like being in the kitchen, learning how to cook. By choosing easy kid-friendly meals you’re getting everyone involved in family nourishment. Here are some one-dish cheesy meals (what kids don’t love cheese?). Or you can even go crazy and make some fun party food for kids! I’d encourage you to make it special so children don’t complain about it from the beginning.
Let’s move on to things your family can do on screen-free family nights. You might choose one, two, or more of these things to do on your screen-free nights, depending on what time your children go to bed.
8 FUN Ideas for a Screen-free Family Night
- Read a book together. An adult or older sibling can read a chapter (or more if everyone is enjoying it!) of a classic book.
- Play a board game. Here’s a list of over 30 perfect board games for families.
- Play charades. Charades is fun because people get up and move around, so it’s a good way to let your kids get out some giggles and energy before bed.
- Take a walk. Walk to a nearby playground or through the neighborhood. Children will often begin talking or sharing what’s on their heart if you do something alongside them.
- Start a project. Is there something in your home that needs work? Why not start a project like painting, building, or knocking something down? Kids love to get involved with practical projects, and it’s a great opportunity to teach skills involving tools.
- Go visit friends or family. It’s often hard to find time to nurture your relationships with those outside your home, so a screen free evening is a good time to focus on others together.
- Have a bonfire. And even sing kumbaya if you want. :) Roast marshmallows, sausages, and make campfire bread. There’s something magical about being outside under the stars, isn’t there?
- Do a craft. If your kids enjoy crafts, set up a big craft station on the dining room table and have fun using your hands and talking.
After you get the hang of family screen free nights, I’m sure everyone will look forward to it all week long!