3/21/13

Pshh, We Don't Need TV: 5 Creative Ways to Turn Off the TV

There are times when it seems like the only thing you can do to get anything done around the house, is to let your children sit down and watch TV. I'm guilty of it, as I'm sure many other parents are. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great educational, kid-friendly TV shows out there. Most cable packages from Cable-tv.com and other providers offer a good variety of kid friendly channels. But parents don’t need to rely on TV as a babysitter when there are plenty of other activities to keep your kids entertained. Here are some creative and easy ways to move your child away from the TV to something more active and creative.

1. Rain, Rain Go Away
Rain or other inclement weather seems to always mess up outdoor activities you have planned outside the home or away from the TV. If your child is as active as mine is, you may consider making a huge fort in the living room. Take your king or queen sized sheets and tuck them into the couch, bring over some dining room chairs and tie the other ends to them. Make it as cozy and comfy as possible. Let your child bring their favorite toys or books inside it with a flashlight. In my opinion, children of all ages love flashlights and feeling like they're camping or visiting an exotic place. My philosophy is if you can't physically go somewhere, pretend you can with what you have.

2. Cooking Is For More Than Just Eating
Cook with your kids! I absolutely love doing this. You have to make dinner (or lunch) anyway, why not allow your children to be part of the fun? Kids love to help and love to feel like they are helping. Let them carefully add the pasta to the water, mix ingredients in a bowl, or mash the potatoes for dinner. It's no secret that kids love desserts. Why not make cookies where they can plop the dough on the cookie sheet, or make a cake they can decorate to their heart's content? Studies have shown that kids are more likely to eat what they cook, so cook up some veggies with your youngster tonight!

3. Fun with Ice
Summer is approaching and it's like children know they can play in water. Even an inch of water can be scary, especially for younger children. That's where the giant ice cube comes in handy. Make a colored ice cube with little toys inside. Just fill a big Tupperware container with water, add some food coloring and their favorite little toys. Maybe green or blue with toy soldiers for boys, pink or red with Barbie accessories for girls. Freeze it overnight or for a few days. Then, let the kids outside with plenty of sunblock and their swimsuits, and give them few "tools" to break apart the mass. Kids will dig at it for hours, and it's easy to monitor them while doing other things like gardening or reading. What's not to love about that?

4. Cleaning is a Game, Right?
Cleaning is just a part of life, we can't avoid it. Kids can be a bit messy resulting in more cleaning for mom. Teach them to help you clean up by giving them simple chores like putting their dishes in the dishwasher, wiping the table when it's messy, teaching them to set the table, or even help mopping by giving them a Swiffer. All very easy things that kids can do on their own, while you're tackling other messes. You can even make a game out of cleaning. Make a race out of who can get their chores done first. The faster you finish, the faster you can move on to something more exciting.

5. Nuture The Next Picasso
Crafts galore! Crafts should probably come before cleaning, but crafts with kids are so much fun. Spread out an old sheet on the kitchen table, with your kids wearing old clothes. Then let them go wild while painting canvas from your local craft store. Your children will absolutely love tapping into their creative senses, and you'll get an abstract art piece to hang up around the house or in their rooms. The great thing about canvas is that you can paint over it again and again, if you want. Also, most paints, like acrylic, easily wipe off hard surfaces like chairs and tile floors.
It is can be so easy to step away from the TV and get creative with your children while you get other stuff done. Try out some of these activities or test some ideas of your own. How do you keep your kids away from the TV?
-Contributor: Kevin Browne
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