Turn ‘screen’ time into ‘serene’ time.
We are so lucky in the Okanagan to have nature right on our doorsteps. No, literally. I just watched a deer hop the fence and wolf down half of our hedges! The reality is that screens seem to have taken over modern life, and changed the way we interact as a family. Don’t panic yet though, there is a simple solution – be outside more! Studies, including one at UBCO, confirm that nature makes us happy, and can help relieve stress, anxiety and depression. If that’s not enough reason to be outside more, then just take a look at some of the negative effects of excess screen time put out by the Canadian Paediatric Society in 2017.
So now you are probably wondering what the trick is to convincing the rest of your family to put down their devices and actually go outdoors. I hate to say it, but it comes down to you. Parents and caregivers have to lead by example and make it a family priority. Schedule in time to be outside, whether it’s a quick stop at the park on the way home from school, a day at the beach, or a trip up to Big White for a family ski day. Making it a part of your routine will ensure your children expect that as part of your lifestyle. While I am waiting on becoming a mom myself, my experience as a teacher and nanny may be helpful to some, or just amusing to others. Either way, I hope this encourages families to put down their screens, and get outside together!
Here are some ideas:
- Walk or cycle places instead of driving
- Give kids a task such as a scavenger hunt (make up together or look online), collecting nature bits for a craft (I use Pinterest for inspiration), or building a fort in the backyard
- Create a family ‘bucket-list’ of places you want to hike/outdoor activities to try and tick them off as you complete them
- For teens, try to reward them for using screens less and going outside more with your chosen reward system
- Join an outdoor sports league such as baseball, or soccer
- Start a club! (walking, running, tobogganing, canoeing, etc.)
- Keep an eye out for free, family-friendly activities/events in town such as skating in Stewart Park, and Parks Alive in the summer
- Get other parents involved, and you can all plan things together so your kids will feel like they are missing out if they don’t join in!
– Article by Meghan Keeley. Get to know here below.
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Get to know the author.
Hi, my name is Meghan Keeley and I’ve been gaining a lot of experience working with children ever since I was old enough to babysit! I’ve worked in camps, daycare, as a nanny, and as a teacher. I also studied psychology in my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph. I’ve had a unique journey to teaching by working in the field, and then finally deciding to go to teacher’s college in New Zealand. After graduating from that programme, I was offered a teaching job in London, England and was lucky enough to teach there for two fantastic years! Through all of my experiences, and with a background in psychology, I have become very compassionate about children’s mental health and those with special needs – especially when it comes to education. I hope to continue to support families in a holistic way starting with education. As the Kiwis teach, ‘education is about the whole whanau (family)’. I am happy to share my opinions and international experience to help others. Thanks for reading!