Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Five ways to get your children off screens and outside

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Children are increasingly spending an excessive amount of time on screens which could have a detrimental effect on their overall wellbeing. This became more apparent during the pandemic  where children (and adults) – confined to their homes because of lockdowns and restrictions – added more screen time to their days.

For many parents, screen time for children offers a break, some relief and a distraction as adults try to juggle work, life and other responsibilities. With the ongoing school holidays, children of all ages have more time on their hands to be attached to phones, tablets, computers and televisions. However, you can decrease the amount of time your child spends staring at screens and, instead, get them out and about. 

Here are fun and creative ways to get your children outside over these holidays. 

  1. Plan nature walks and hikes

Depending on how old your child is and what their fitness level is, you can plan for mild to moderate walks and hikes. If you are in an area that is close to a park, like The Arboretum or Karura Forest, you can head out as a family for regular walks. Alternatively, a walk around your neighbourhood will do wonders for all of you and give your child some fresh air and a break from screens. 

  1. Go on a safari

If you have the means, plan a holiday out of town for the family. There’s no better way to keep kids off their devices than to physically take them to an area that encourages disconnecting. Lake Nakuru and Amboseli National Parks are excellent choices for families, as kids and adults alike will be captivated by the animals, the smell of the outdoors and the wide open spaces. The beauty of these parks is that they are not far from Nairobi, so you won’t have to worry about travelling long distances with a car full of restless children. Game drives, nature walks, and bird watching are just a few of the activities available there. You could also plan to visit attractions surrounding the parks if you have a longer stay. For instance, while at Lake Nakuru National Park, Lord Egertons’ Castle, Hells Gate, Elsa Mere, and Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site are worth visiting.

  1. Relieve your house manager

Consider giving your live-in house manager some time off to see her family, rest and recharge. Assign some light tasks around the house to keep the kids occupied while she’s away. Have the older ones help with meal preparation, and the younger ones tidy up the living room.

Also, keep in mind that it’s the school holidays, and you don’t want to put yourself or your children under too much pressure with house chores. Engage a vetted and trustworthy cleaner from SweepSouth to come in once or twice a week to help you thoroughly clean the house. SweepSouth conducts criminal and reference checks on all domestic workers on the platform, giving you the much-needed peace of mind while your cleaning is being done.

  1. Involve them in different  activities

Despite their ages, look around for activities within and outside the home to engage them in. Teenagers can take up volunteer opportunities in children’s homes, or you can also take them upcountry to help their grandparents or other elderly relatives. This fosters responsibility in them.

For younger children, plan activities around the home that they can engage in with ease. If you have an outdoor area, whether it’s a backyard or a balcony, consider getting potted plants or a pet that they can tend to. This not only gets children outside, but also gets them excited about doing their part for nature. Activities like baking, reading, or arts and crafts are great indoor ideas.

SweepSouth can also help you organise your outdoor space to make it more child-friendly for extra fun and activities in no time. Alen Ribic, Co-founder of SweepSouth and dad of three, notes that even if your outdoor space is small, you can make it a fun and enjoyable space for the whole family if you have the right type of help.

  1. Set up outdoor play dates with other parents 

The great thing about school holidays and being a parent is knowing that there are hundreds and thousands of other parents going through the same thing as you. Most parents out there are wondering what on earth to do with their children over the holidays. So, why not set up outdoor play dates and activities together? Each day could be a different parent’s responsibility to come up with something fun. And it doesn’t have to be the whole day, either. It could be an afternoon visit to the Nairobi Safari Walk, a picnic in the Ngong Hills, an evening walk with other parents and children, or even a creative play day where children get to engage in their hobbies.  

School holidays can be fun for both parent and child – you just have to plan ahead of time. This not only ensures that you have enough activities to keep your child busy and off their screens for a while, but it also gives you time to adequately prepare for all the games and activities.

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