Great TV Free Play Alternatives

No one understands the convenience and bliss of a child quietly watching TV than a busy parent!

You come home from work or a busy day out with the groceries, unpack everything, put on a load of washing, make dinner for the family, feed and bath kids, put another load of washing on, iron something to wear tomorrow, and all around your little cherubs who have been helpfully pulling things out of cupboards, opening the fridge and making a general mess that causes you an extra half hour of work!

When your child watches TV it is bliss - you take your time to make dinner, no one tips groceries over the floor and you all manage to get through 'witching hour' with your sanity and patience in tact. We have all been there (yes, even the Our Little Treasure girls) where 5 minutes peace and quite is like winning lotto.

TV every now an then (a few short sessions a week) can be a great way to keep kids out of your hair and give then some valuable 'down time' after a busy day. However, used over and over for long periods throughout every day it can create a mini couch potato out of your child, providing no long term benefit to their development. You may get peace and quite every afternoon, but at what expense?

At Our Little Treasure we have collected a few of our favourite TV-free alternatives to share with you, hopefully giving you a few ideas to turn the box off and provide something a little more meaningful for your child to get you both through the day.

  • Small Child-Sized Furniture and a Drawing/ Writing Table - Drawing at a small table is a great way for children to work quietly and at their own pace without having to disrupt you while you are busy. Make sure the table has a shelf nearby with lots of writing materials (pens, pencils, paper, notepads, rules, etc) and your child should not have to bother you while you unpack the dishwasher (for little ones, pop them in their high chair next to you and chat while you work and they draw).
  • Play Dough - Easy, fun and very relaxing, play dough is a lovely way to help your child wind down at the end of a day. Keep a stash in a sealed container in the kitchen and pull it out when you need two minutes to get things done. Rolling pins, cutters, paddle pop sticks and cutlery make a fun and interesting addition.
  • Pegs on the Washing Line - Using an indoor drying rack, place a basket of face washer, tea towels, pillow case, etc with a bucket of pegs and encourage your child to 'peg out the washing'. It is great for fine motor and kids love to pretend they are grown up.
  • Posting or Sorting Box - Place 20 scissor holes in the lid of an old shoe box and give your child some paddle pop sticks to push through into the box. Another great fine motor task and a really good activity to use with 1-3 year olds while sitting in their high chair next to where you are working or cooking. Alternatively, place a variety of objects into a shoe box and ask your child to find all the different colours. Great for colour recognition and improving language skills.
  • CD for Dancing - Get out your favourite kid's CD and have a 5pm boogie around the house. Perfect for releasing any extra energy in time for bed! To make it extra special, place the music near a mirror so that your child can watch their disco moves - children love to be able to see themselves so don't underestimate how much time they will spend doing this one! The Our Little Treasure Team particularly like this for 'dancing out the bad day' at the conclusion of days you are glad to see the back of. Even mums and dads can benefit from a 5pm boogie once in a while.
  • Indoor Cubby House - The good old-fashioned cubby house can never be beaten for value when it comes to a great activity for kids. Fill a cardboard box with some dress ups, bags and hats and place a mirror nearby. Hours and hours of fun. Leave it set up for when you come home at the end of the day to save you from having to get everything ready on top of your normal evening routine.