30 Minutes Outside

Ideas and reminders for a tech-balanced summer:
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The long awaited summer vacation is finally here! But while kids are so excited to get out of school, many families struggle with all the extra time to fill with their children. Camps and other summer programs are wonderful, but we all know that there is a tendency to rely on media to fill in the extra time that is in our child's summer schedules. I listened to a fellow baseball mom last week as she lamented the fact that her son had spent the first 7 days of his summer vacation on his video game. A privilege realized only during the weekend during the school year has already taken over his summer.

So what is a media savvy mom to do? Plan. Without a plan and a purpose, screens can take over your summer. While it is possible to keep screen time balanced during the summer months, I have found that for our family it is easier to go game free all together. We have much less stress, less arguing over game time limits, and way more outdoor time and creativity. Summer is the perfect time to connect with your children and help them focus on a new hobby or enrich an old one.

Here are a few ideas and reminders for a tech balanced summer:

1. Nature.
Sending your kids out in nature (in their own backyard) is a great priority for the summer. Nature exposure heals and calms the anxious child as nature deficit is a huge problem with technology overuse. Screens pull us far away from the feel of grass on our bare feet, the healing sun on our shoulders and the movement needed for healthy bodies.

2. Keep it simple.
Don't write off the simple ideas, they may be just what your child needs to get his own creative juices going. Remember that he needs simple things to build on: baseball in the backyard, a game of tag or just a nature walk trumps his air-conditioned cocoon.

3. They can entertain themselves (without a screen).
I think kids are perfectly able to entertain themselves, but for children who have been overusing technology it will be harder and a quick jump start with some ideas from mom or dad will help them get more confident forming their own ideas. I have found that I only need to suggest a few things to get them out the door and off creating their own games and fun. The key is getting them started.

4. Attachment to family.
Being attached to their family is the most important developmental ingredient to a healthy childhood. Use summer to strengthen those attachments even if it simply means having a screen free picnic lunch with your kids under the tree in the backyard or learning a new board game.

5. Read the 30 Minutes Outside series.
Because we are a game free family, many moms have asked me to share some sample summer ideas that work for us. I have created a series of over 90 ideas for easy backyard summer fun. Go to our site www.momsmanagingmedia.com and click on the 30 Minutes Outside button on the right. This list may help you plan a few outdoor ideas when frustration may be high and patience low. The ideas are boy and girl friendly and all ages will find these timeless activities fun!

The 30 minutes outside can turn into hours of fun, and over time your child will not even need your prompts. Make a plan, have a purpose and enjoy your summer months with your children. Batteries, fancy trips or screens are really not needed to make this the most fun summer yet!