Spring is here and it’s time to make room for play!

Spring is here! With that comes nicer weather, and kids playing outside. I know that my guy loves to get out and play. He relishes in the chance to take his shoes off and run in the grass, play soccer and climb all over the playground in the park.

Sadly, though, this isn’t the case with all kids. With so many great TV shows on and video games galore, a lot of kids just aren’t getting outside to play as much as they should. Out here on the West Coast, we get a lot of rainy days, and after a stretch of inside time, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to get kids back outside. “Mom, just one more level!” Is something that
I would imagine is heard a lot around the country when parents try to limit screen time.

Or, if you are anything like me, every once in a while you get doing something and forget just how much time your kid has spent watching cartoons or a movie. We are all busy. I get it, trust me. No judgment here.

I’m lucky though. My kid LOVES to be active. I often joke that if I copied what he did for the day, I probably would make it to around lunch time before I’d collapse from exhaustion. I know that not all kids are like that though, and that there are a lot of parents who are desperately trying to encourage more outside play time for kids who would rather play their games from the comfort of a couch.

If you struggle with this, Participaction has launched a new campaign to help with tips and ideas to encourage replacing screen time with active time. I’ll give you some here, but you can also visit the website for downloadable tools and resources to enable others to reduce screen time and make room for active play at home, at school, or in the community.

•Avoid making television watching part of your regular daily routine.
•Make family rules that limit how much screen time your kids are allowed each day.
•Eliminate background TV as it’s likely to draw your child’s attention. Instead, turn on music.
•Kids naturally play more actively when they’re outdoors, so head outside with them every day.
• Set a good example and limit your own screen time.
• Unplug for a day. Designate one day a week or month as a screen-free day for the whole family.
• For younger children, avoid using screens as an “electronic babysitter”.
• For older children, after-school is a key timeslot for activities, so register them in active after-school programs in the community.
• For older children, don’t allow a TV, computer, or cell phone in your child’s bedroom.
• For older children, explain to them that decreased screen time is not a punishment, but a healthy choice
• Let them make their own choices in their room too. Involve them and give them choices for their room. Stuff like would they like a Leesa or casper mattress? Would they like curtains or blinds? It makes them feel more involved.

There are really good reasons to limit screen time in kids. The time kids used to spend running, playing and being physically active has been replaced by the screen – whether it be TV, smartphone or computer.
• Canadian kids spend an average of seven hours and 48 minutes a day in front of screens – that’s almost a 40-hour work week. Yikes!
• Only five percent of Canadian kids accumulate the minimum 60 minutes of moderate- to- vigorous physical activity daily.

I know that when I am in front of a screen for too long I can certainly feel it. I can see a difference in my son when he does too. He tends to zone out, is more hyper around bedtime and takes longer to settle. It makes sense to me. We naturally have energy that we need to burn, and although our brain is engaged when we watch a show or play a video game, our bodies are not, and that energy just builds until you start to become restless.

• Too much screen time can make it hard for a child to sleep at night; raise kids’ risk of attention problems, anxiety, and depression; raise a child’s risk of gaining too much weight; and leave less time for active, creative play.
• Science has shown that when children increase their daily physical activity, they decrease their chances of developing many diseases, such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes and are generally healthier and happier.

Ideally, we can all find a balance between spending time indoors watching TV and playing games and spending it outdoors, burning off energy, running around like crazy and connecting with the beautiful outdoors. If you are looking for somewhere to start when it comes to finding the right amount of screentime for your child, take a look at this:

• The Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for children recommend:
• No screen-based activities for children under two.
• Limiting television watching to one hour or less per day for children ages two to four years.
• Limiting screen time to less than 2 hours per day for children five and older.

We all know what is best for our families, and these are just ideas and suggestions. No one is saying that sitting down to watch Saturday morning cartoons or play a video game is wrong, or at least Im not. I just want to be able to give you a stepping stone if you have a reluctant player or want to reduce the time spent in front of screens as spring and summer unfold. I’m sure we can all remember our childhoods, though, and how much of them were spent outside, and that is probably where a lot of our best memories came from. I’d just like my kid, and all kids, to be able to look back and think the same thing when they are our age.

This post was sponsored by Participaction, however, I feel really strongly about the importance of outside play, which is why I chose to share this with you. You know I wouldn’t share anything I didn’t believe in, and didn’t think you might find helpful or interesting.

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