When we first moved to the country, we had no TV, and things were really just fine. After that, we opted for Netflix, but just for Madeline, John, and I—not the little ones. Well, that lasted a little while but then the draw of the TV set in. Not for the kids—for ME! It’s such an easy way to occupy them—the perfect independent activity, right? Not exactly…
The TV was on before breakfast, mid-morning, while I had a second coffee, during rest time for an hour, and as I got dinner ready. All in all, it added up to about 2 hours a day.
Since I love numbers, let’s take a look at that for a second:
Over the course of a week, my kids were spending 14 hours in front of the TV. They are only awake for 13 hours a day!
That wasn’t going to fly. There are so, so, so many better things for those little minds to be doing.
With this in mind, I pondered why we used the TV so much and realized it was for a few reasons:
- to give me time alone,
- to give the kids time to chill out when they are too worked up,
- or to stop them from fighting (as a way to separate them).
…all problems that could be solved with a daily Quiet Time.
The Importance of a Daily Quiet Time
Quiet Time is incredibly important for children. Children (and adults!) need time to unplug, rest and recharge each and every day.
A daily Quiet Time allows our children to:
- enjoy a daily period of quiet reflection
- consolidate learning from throughout the day
- work through and reflect on issues or conflicts
- build fine motor, academic, and problem-solving skills
- practice problem-solving and independence
It also helps to ward off the overstimulation that often results in tantrums and meltdowns.
So while I was using the TV to give myself an opportunity to rest and recharge, the TV was not doing the same for my children. Their little minds were still processing an alarming amount of information, and they were not getting the benefits of a screen-free Quiet Time.
Having a simple, independent activity ready to settle little ones into Quiet Time does wonders! Children get time to rest their minds and bodies. And equally important, you get time to sip that coffee, rest and relax, read a book, or catch up on some work.
The Quiet Time Club is filled with simple, independent activities like these. Low to no-prep ideas to help your little one settle into Quiet Time. Take a peek right here: https://shop.howweelearn.com/pages/quiet-time-club
Independent Activities for Kids with Free Printable!
(may contain affiliate links, thank you)
I also thought I would make a list of simple, quick, no-prep, independent activities for me to throw at the boys when they need one. After all, too much unstructured time doesn’t work well for those boys of mine! While I try to embrace the “let them be bored” mentality, that often turns into “let us bother each other until Mom loses it and gives us something to do.”
So, when they need a little structure, I’m going to suggest these activities…
15 No-Prep, No Mess, Independent Activities Instead of TV
These activities do not involve me and give the boys some space from each other. So, in theory, they should be just as effective as TV.
- Get out a Quiet Bin. Quiet Bins work so much better to calm my boys down than TV!
- Find Waldo. This one is a favorite right now—and great for practicing those tracking skills too.
- Use a clipboard, a piece of paper, and a pencil and draw/write all the yellow things you can find that start with /s/, etc.
- Draw a picture of your favourite thing you have done today or what you would like to do tomorrow.
- Play with the cat/dog/bunny/chickens…
- Put sticky notes on everything that starts with /s/
- Make paper chain jewelry. My boys love doing this right now! Just cut really thin small strips of paper and loop them together to make necklaces and bracelets.
- Play with the Lego.
- Do a dot-to-dot or another activity page.
- Make up a song/dance to perform after dinner.
- Use facepaint. My boys love doing this, and the sensory experience really helps them to calm down. Often this leads to some great imaginary play afterward, too!
- Set up a restaurant/sleepover/school for all the stuffies.
- Make a thank you card/kindness card for someone to deliver after dinner.
- Grab some pipecleaners and beads to make jewelry.
- Get out the playdough!
There you have it! That’s my plan. Nothing crazy, nothing fancy—which is precisely the beauty in it.
My hope is to keep my little ones mostly off of TV, with the occasional movie night (or afternoon, or heaven help me morning) here and there.
You can download the Free Independent Activity Pack Printables below, which includes the 15 activity ideas plus 17 activity pages including coloring pages, dot-to-dots, mazes, and more!
I hope you are having a lovely start to summer, my friend. Thank you for reading!